Safety Centre

Law Enforcement

If you've been defrauded by a seller on eBay or have reason to believe you have discovered stolen goods, we strongly encourage you to contact your local police to report the incident and ensure that you obtain a crime reference number. If the police take the matter further, the investigating police officer will contact eBay; we'll provide the information the police need to help with the investigation.

Before you go to the police

You transaction might not be a case of fraud or stolen goods, and it might that you're dealing with a seller who is slow at sending an item or keeping in contact. In these cases, we encourage you to try resolving the issue with the seller directly. If this doesn't work, there are a number of ways to resolve your issue quickly before going to the police:

Is it a crime?

If you report your transaction to the police, they'll decide if it should be investigated as a crime or as a civil dispute. If the police feel that your case doesn't involve a criminal intent by the other party, it's possible that they may advise you to take civil action to recover your losses through a county (small claims) court. Advice and information can be found here. Should you require further advice on pursuing civil matters we suggest you contact Citizens Advice consumer service.

Advice from Action Fraud

  • You can report issues via http://www.actionfraud.police.uk
  • Reports about transactions outside of eBay or PayPal may not be investigated by law enforcement, although your report will help the police to build intelligence and monitor fraud activity.
  • eBay will always assist in a criminal investigation received from Law Enforcement.

How do I make a police report?

The simplest way of reporting a crime is to go to your local police station or to call the local police operator on a non-emergency number. In most cases your report can be taken by telephone and followed up later. Some forces have an online crime reporting system, which you may be able to find on the web.

What evidence do you need?

The police will need essential details from you, such as the date and time of the offence and who the victim and suspects are. If you tried to contact the seller you may have even exchanged names and addresses using the 'contact member' system. These details will be useful to the police in trying to trace the other person and establishing whether or not they've committed an offence.

If you've exchanged emails with the other person, make sure that you keep them and print copies to provide to the police. If possible print any eBay or PayPal web pages relating to your transaction.

What happens next?

We strongly believe in working closely with the police and other government agencies to keep our community safe. We train hundreds of police and trading standards officers every year in how to assist victims of crime and we provide our support and services to them free of charge. If the police feel that an investigation is warranted they may come to us for evidence to support the investigation. We are committed to keeping eBay a safe place to shop and will always assist in a criminal investigation and, in accordance with our privacy policies, will appropriately provide evidence to law enforcement and give evidence in court where necessary.

Make sure you have your crime reference number to hand whenever you contact the police about your allegation, as this will be the best way for them to check on the progress of your case. You may find it useful to ask to speak to someone on the 'crime desk' or in the CID office.

Will anyone be arrested?

If you're making an allegation of crime you should be prepared that no matter how good you think your case is the police may still chose not to continue with an investigation. A strong deciding factor is often whether or not the cost of an investigation is proportionate to the offence committed. This may mean that if the amount of financial loss is relatively low then a lengthy investigation is unlikely.

Will anyone be charged?

The police will take into account a number of other factors. The Crown Prosecution Service have laid down a 'Threshold Test' which is used to determine whether or not a person will be charged with an offence, and it's possible that this may affect how the police pursue your allegation. eBay provides information in accordance with data protection legislation. The following contact details are provided for use by the Police, Trading Standards and other law enforcement agencies when sending requests for information: