Beware of Online Antique Scams: A Real-Life Cautionary Tale

image depicting an online antique scam scenario
In today’s digital age, the convenience of online shopping has revolutionized the way we purchase goods. From everyday items to rare collectibles, nearly everything is just a click away. However, this convenience comes with its own set of risks, especially when it involves large transactions and international sellers. Here’s a real-life story of an individual who learned this the hard way, shedding light on the perils of online antique scams.

The Lure of a Unique Find

Barry, an American living on a modest disability income, was thrilled when he stumbled upon an antique clock listed on eBay in January 2024. The clock, priced at $1260 with an additional $100 for shipping, seemed like a perfect addition to his collection. Unable to pay the full amount upfront, Barry was relieved when the seller agreed to a four-month installment plan. He made the payments directly to the seller, bypassing eBay’s secure payment system to save on immediate costs.

A Suspicious Turn of Events

All seemed well until Barry completed his final payment. The seller, who had been responsive and accommodating, suddenly went silent. Emails to the seller’s address ( went unanswered, and Barry’s anxiety grew. The tracking number provided (CQ062892515UA) indicated that the clock was held at Ukrainian customs, but with no communication from the seller, Barry started suspecting foul play.

The Financial and Emotional Toll

Living on a small disability income, Barry couldn’t afford to lose the $1360 he had already paid. He changed his debit card to prevent further unauthorized charges but was left with a sense of helplessness. The absence of direct communication with the seller and the lack of a phone number made the situation even more daunting. Barry’s attempts to connect via international calls were futile, and he preferred handling the investigation through email due to his limited resources.

Seeking Justice and Assistance

Determined to find a resolution, Barry reached out to various authorities for help. He contacted local law enforcement in the United States and sought the email address of the appropriate police department in Ukraine. Barry’s primary goal was twofold: to confirm whether Ukrainian customs were indeed holding the clock and, if not, to ensure that the seller faced prosecution.

Protecting Yourself from Online Scams

Barry’s story is a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities associated with online transactions, especially those involving international sellers and significant amounts of money. Here are some key takeaways to protect yourself from similar scams:

  1. Use Secure Payment Methods: Always utilize secure payment platforms like eBay’s official system, which offers buyer protection.
  2. Verify Seller Information: Before making any payment, thoroughly research the seller. Check for reviews, ratings, and any red flags in their history. You can request a background check of a seller from Ukraine to make sure that this person is legit.
  3. Be Wary of Installment Plans: While paying in installments can be convenient, it also exposes you to potential scams. Ensure that any such agreement is documented and verified.
  4. Communicate Through Official Channels: Maintain all communications through the platform where the item is listed to ensure there is a record of your interactions.
  5. Report Suspicious Activity Immediately: If you suspect a scam, report it to the relevant authorities and the platform where the transaction occurred as soon as possible.


Barry’s unfortunate experience serves as a valuable lesson for all online shoppers. While the allure of unique finds and great deals can be tempting, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and cautious. By following the above tips and staying informed about common scam tactics, you can safeguard yourself from falling victim to online fraud.

If you or someone you know has experienced a similar situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to local law enforcement or consumer protection agencies. Sharing stories like Barry’s can help raise awareness and prevent others from becoming victims of online scams.