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Reporting fraud or stolen goods to the police

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

Your transaction might not be a case of fraud or stolen goods, and it might be 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 and resolve 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:

eBay Resolution Center Items Not Received eBay Buyer Protection

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 does not involve criminal intent by the other party, it is possible that they may advise you to take civil action to recover your losses through a civil action (small claims).

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. The list of police forces in the US can be found here.

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 police report reference number in 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.

Will anyone be arrested and/or charged?

If you're making an allegation of a crime you should be prepared that no matter how good you think your case is the police may still choose 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.

How does eBay assist?

eBay provides information in accordance with data protection legislation. The following contact information is provided for use by the Police, Trading Standards and other law enforcement agencies when sending requests for information: