Fake Pokemon Cards Online: Guide to avoid scams and scalpers

Recently, trading cards have been trending worldwide, and the hobby's sudden surge in popularity has added countless new members to the massive crowd of Pokemon card collectors.

However, it's important for new card collectors looking to expand their collection to be able to spot bad-intentioned sellers manipulating card prices and product listings targeting new members to the trading card community. 

It's important to know what to look out for as sites like Yahoo Auction do not offer buyer protection, making it difficult to obtain compensation from sellers looking to take advantage of you.

*ZenMarket is not affiliated with Yahoo Auctions or any auction sites. ZenMarket can not bear responsibility or enforce the refund or reimbursement of customer losses in the event of malicious sellers - please bid with care.

Below are a few things you should look out for when purchasing trading cards from an auction site like eBay or Yahoo auctions to avoid potential online scams or sellers trying to scalp prices.


1. Fake Bids: Seller's Raising Prices


What to Look For:

Malicious sellers can participate in bidding on their own goods with fake accounts to raise the auction price to the highest possible.

This does not necessarily mean that you will have any issues with the authenticity of the item being sold, but you may end up paying a higher price than you otherwise need to. 

Example of actions taken by a malicious seller:

  1. List an Item for Auction 
  2. Prepare a few fake accounts
  3. Sellers will raise bids when they see that the real bidders are not too active.
  4. They deduce the user's highest price possible by placing high bid amounts
  5. The seller will then canceled their fake bids
  6. Using another fake account, a seller may raise the bid little by little to increase the actual auction price paid by real sellers. 

How To Avoid:

  • Take care of sellers only selling a few items from a single category (like trading cards).

  • In many cases, if the auction starting price is unreasonably low compared to the item's estimated value, it may be best to avoid bidding on the item - be wary of $0.01 or 1 Yen starting price!

  • Check the bidder's number of reviews or bidding history:

If the account that overbids you have less than 20 reviews, there is a possibility that the account isn't genuine and could be a fake account.

  • Start bidding with a small amount:

Avoid bidding large sums of money out of fear of missing out (especially for rare items).
Check the seller's and other bidder's review history; if the seller is new and you are bidding on a very rare card, we would recommend avoid bidding. 


2. Misleading Titles and Descriptions


What to Look For:

Some sellers are using English words that may sound appealing to bidders, but leave room for misinterpretation.

Popular English search terms for cards that refer to a card's grade like:

  • "Mint"
  • "Perfect Mint"

However, although you may find these terms in the title or description of the item, that does not mean the cards have been officially graded to meet those standards. 

For items not graded by an authentication company, the use of the terms is purely based on the seller's personal opinion.

Seller and buyers may have different opinions on the condition of a card when an officially grading company is not involved. 

These terms are not always used maliciously by sellers. Still, we advise that you confirm whether what you are buying has been officially graded ["Near Mint," "Mint," "Perfect Mint," etc.] or whether the grade is simply the opinion of the seller. 

In some cases, words like:

  • “Box”
  • “Box set”
  • “Original back card”

can be included in item titles or descriptions.

Item pictures may look like a complete box or a full set of original back Pokemon cards, but the description uses misleading language that can imply that only an empty box is being sold or only a few cards included in the box have the Original Pokemon card backs.

Example: “Eevees Box set 10 BOX

A listing like this might only be selling the physical boxes and not include any cards with the boxes they are selling.

How To Avoid:

  • Check item descriptions carefully.

  • Ask questions to the seller.

If a seller doesn't have an answer that clearly defines what is being sold to make up your mind about the auction's contents, avoid bidding.

  • Check the seller's reviews/History.

If the seller is brand new, avoid placing a bid.


3. Only Packaging Images and Bulk Sets


Some sellers use unreliable images of just the packaging or show rare cards in their images that won't be sent to the buyer.

What to Look For:

Some sellers sell a bulk set of items which includes thousands of cards, but use pictures of rare cards, implying that the buyer will receive the rare cards advertised, but never actually stating that these rare cards will be included in the sale of the bulk set.

In this case, cards in the picture may be attractive ones, but the rest of the set is basically cards with very low value, or some items in the image might not be included at all!

It's not possible to check what is in a box before placing a bid on auction sites!

Avoid bidding on auctions only containing pictures of cardboard boxes since the content of those boxes is unclear, and you cannot be sure what you are bidding on.

How To Avoid:

  • Listings that do not clearly show the entire contents of what is on sale. 

If the picture is not showing the whole set or all items being sold, do not bid on the listing and avoid bidding on other items by the same seller. 

  • Ask questions to the seller.

If you don’t receive accurate and clear answers on the contents of the listing, do not place a bid.

  • Check the seller's reviews. 

If the seller is using a brand new account, avoid placing a bid.

*ZenMarket can not force Japanese sellers to send or add additional images to their listings. Please keep this information in mind when asking questions to the seller.


4. Item Without Shrink Wrap


What to Look For:

Especially for Pokemon extension booster sets, some sellers indicate that they have taken off the shrink wrap (plastic that seals the new item).

Sellers may also add in the description that the item is still "unused" or the booster box's opening is still intact.

In this case, there is a risk that the seller has taken out the rare cards supposed to be included in the pack and replaced them with other booster contents.

The use of the word "unused" does not mean "unopened."


How To Avoid:

  • Check the item description carefully.

For Japanese auction sites, check for the following phrases in the item description:

  • Unused = 未使用
  • Unopened未開封

"Unused" is not the same as "Unopened" in Japanese. Confirm that the listing you are bidding on uses the phrase "未開封" (Unopened)

  • Check the seller's reviews. 

If the seller is using a brand new account, avoid placing a bid.


The above is no a comprehensive list of every scam you may come across online that involves Pokemon cards, but these are common ways in which ill-intentioned sellers may try to take advantage of new Pokemon card collectors. 

It's best to take caution when buying any collectible cards secondhand or from any auction sites such as eBay or Yahoo Auctions!

If you ever find yourself unsure about a certain listing, it's best to avoid bidding until you reach out to the seller first and have any concerns about the listing resolved. 

We hope this guide helps those of you beginning on your Pokemon card journey to stay a little safer as you try to Collect 'Em All!




How can you tell if a Pokémon card is legit?

As a general rule, a Pokemon card is legit if it posses black lines of ink running along ripped edges. Multiple methods can be used to check the authenticity of a Pokemon card, such as the Light Test.



What does the back of a fake Pokémon card look like?

On average, there are 3 Pokemon card-backs types that you will find on genuine Pokemon cards. Japanese cards have 2 card back types, and all other languages have a single back type. Japanese cards changed their back type due to copyright issues. 


Are Pokemon cards on eBay fake?

As a whole, Pokemon cards on eBay and auction sites are not fake. Most cards being sold on auction sites are real, but it is not uncommon to find fake cards being sold. Auctions that do no display clear images of a card should be avoided. 
Article| 24/08/2021 | pokemon cards