As of right now, a lot of scalpers are setting up bots that are buying up hard to get things like capture cards, Xbox Series X, and PS5s.

Is it illegal for someone to post a picture of one of these things on eBay, and then, in the description, tell people not to buy it as they are only selling a picture of the device in question, and that it is meant as a way to prevent scalpers from causing shortages?

  • 1
    Illegal, maybe not. But in a civil suit chances of the judge ruling 'you're an asshole, pay them back' are going to be really damn high.
    – Shadur
    Jan 9 at 22:41
  • A separate question, which is probably more immediately relevant, is whether it is against eBay's terms of service, and if so what they are likely to do to you. But that is not really on topic for this site. Jan 10 at 1:04
  • @Shadur do judges typically rule against legal behavior because the person engaging in the behavior is an asshole? I hope not.
    – phoog
    Jan 11 at 8:34
  • 1
    @phoog The term you want here is 'clear intent to defraud'. There was a recent case where someone who'd sold a picture of a recent gaming console to someone who thought they were buying the real thing for their kid for $500 and tried to smugly claim it was entirely legal and she was just a honest businessman and it dit not go over well with the judge.
    – Shadur
    Jan 11 at 8:55
  • @Shadur Got a link? May 6 at 1:36

As long as it is specified in the description of the item that it is, in fact, a photo, then it's their fault for not reading the description, and not illegal. If there is no such thing in the description, then it is false advertising, which is illegal.

  • 2
    Can you provide a citation for this and/or the jurisdiction you're referring to? In at least one jurisdiction, it seems like this is pretty likely incorrect. I suspect anyone attempting this is likely to run into issues with the fact that their explicit intent was to confuse purchasers.
    – Ryan M
    May 6 at 1:28

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