Fraudsters hijack eBay parcels in a postcode lottery
Refunds to buyers rely on Royal Mail tracking using postcodes rather than signatures, and it’s helping thieves
Anastasios Siampos was suspicious after selling an iPhone for £275 on eBay. The buyer claimed it was defective and, though Siampos contested this, eBay instructed the buyer to return it using Royal Mail’s 48-hour tracked delivery service. Two days later eBay refunded the buyer, insisting that Royal Mail’s tracker showed the parcel had been successfully returned. Siampos, however, had received nothing. When he contacted Royal Mail he found the parcel had indeed been delivered, but not to his address. Extraordinarily, the tracking update only confirms an item has been delivered to the postcode without specifying the property. There are 53 properties in Siampos’s postcode.
Online selling platforms, such as eBay, rely on tracker information as proof an item has been returned and the sender can be refunded. Nowhere on Royal Mail’s website does it clarify that items are only tracked to the postcode – a loophole that has been exploited by fraudsters to steal goods.