Ended for $856.22?
Ended for $587?
Beware the Trap!
The two stamps above are neither faked nor forged, they are genuine in every respect and would certainly get a certificate of authenticity from the Royal Philatelic Society (RPSL) or whatever authoritative body there is. The issue is not the stamp but the seller. These two stamps along with other high value stamps of North Borneo and other countries have been listed periodically in ebay by a seller named marys-gems.
If you look at the first stamp:
The stamp was listed in ebay and ended on 2 Jan 2011. There are 10 bids placed on the stamp and apparently managed to push the price to a whooping end price of US$856.22! The catalogue price for the stamp in S. Gibbons is GBP750 and in Scotts is $450. Seems so far everything is benign until you click at the bids for top bidders of the item:
And when you click at the top bidder, here's what you find:
All activities of this particular bidder revovles around only two sellers! From Jan 02 to Feb 25 2011, approximately in two months period, this remain unchanged, showing that the bidder only bid on this one seller and I suspect the other account of the same seller (emmastamps). It is of course quite unlikely to bid stamps just from one or two sellers and not from the other sellers. Surely there are many more cheaper stuffs in ebay that the bidder can bid on. This raises the suspicion of shill bidding. Pay close attention on the second highest bidder as well.
Now if we look at the other example of the North Borneo $10 stamp, we'll see that:
We'll see that the top winner was the second highest bidder on the previous item! This bidder, incidentally, is no longer a registered user. And when you click on the his account, you'll see that all (100%) bidding activity is placed on the seller marys-gems involving items such from Fiji, Ireland, Malaya etc. This pushes the possibility of shill bidding even further...
What have we Known from the Seller so far?
From various discussion in stamps forum or general online site, the seller marys-gems is quite well known among other philatelic bidders in ebay. In Stampboards.com for example, there's a specific thread dedicated to this seller and some other dodgy sellers. Click here for more information on the tricks and shameful shill bidding techniques employed by the seller. From the discussions, we also know that the seller uses another account by the name of emmastamps!
All this, I believe, is to scam the non-suspecting bidders, especially the ones without good knowledge on the general market price of a particular item. Ebay of course would not care much about the rampant shill bidding because they still get their 10% revenue when items are sold. The more people spent on the item, the richer ebay will become. So why would they employ they resources to police these activities when they can pretend not to know and at the same time increasing their profit? Of course if you report these shameful acts to them under the much touted buyer protection scheme, you may actually get some seller kicked off, but many people have reported this particular seller, but I still see him/her doing his/her uusual shill bidding and scam.
As a conclusion, for a safer online bidding experience and transaction, please don't forget to regularly check the seller as well as the bidders. This will protect you against rip-off and online scams! Ebay is not protecting you enough...