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A Guy Accidentally Paid €540 for a Photo of an Xbox on eBay

It's a scam just dumb enough to work.

(Screenshot via

Peter Clatworthy, a 19-year-old in Nottingham, thought he'd bought an XBox One on eBay for €540, plus €9.50 shipping and handling on November the 28th, but all that came in the mail was a [shitty photo of the console](http://Peter Clatworthy believed he had paid £450 for an XBox One console on eBay but actually received a picture of one in the post.). It's a scam almost as old as eBay itself, and it looks like it'll never go away.

Clatworthy had saved up to buy the brand new, eighth generation console for his four-year-old son McKenzie. As an avid eBay user, he says he had examined the listing before bidding and noticed an odd wording about the item being a photo. But since it was listed in the section for video games and consoles, he figured it couldn't just be a photo. He told Nottingham Post, "I looked at the seller's feedback and there was nothing negative. I bought it there and then because I thought it was a good deal."


Indeed, the old "it's just a photo" trick is from the original, dusty book of eBay scams. There's a record of it developing back in 2001 when someone sold an empty Playstation 2 box. Then, in 2004, someone sold a [photo of a plasma TV](http:// , in which someone sold an empty Playstastion 2 box). Next, it jumped to the seventh generation of consoles, with the XBox 360. It also made a cameo on Judge Judy.

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It's likely this scam persists without really evolving because it's about as sophisticated as tricking someone into sitting on a whoopie cushion. If the scammers went so far as to mail a presentable photograph, printed on glossy paper and framed, maybe they could make a case for themselves after getting caught. But Kelly from the Judge Judy clip sent those tiny little thumbnail jpegs, and Clatworthy's scammer didn't even make sure his printer had ink when he printed out that Xbox One. It looks horrible.

They also dickishly scribbled: "Thank you for your purchase," on the back of the printout. And, although the CSI team presumably won't be called in to check my rampant speculation, they probably wiped a booger on it too, before sneaking past their mum and sticking it in the mailbox.

Clatworthy contested his purchase on the basis of the listing being misleading, and so far eBay seems to agree. They informed him on Wednesday that since he paid with PayPal he could expect a full refund, and that they will contact the scammer in order to pry the money away from them.


Online shopping had to fight a tough battle for acceptance, so eBay has always had to work hard to safeguard users from scams, and balance their limited capacity for actual policing with stern caveat emptors to cover their arses. However, eBay has to devote its energy to policing for today's more sophisticated fraudulent payment requests, phishing, account hijacking and a whole world of arcane bidding trickery. This photo trick, meanwhile, is hidden in plain sight.

Sure, internet people are shitting on this guy, but he's already looking on the bright side. He told Nottingham Post, "At least we've now got something to laugh about in the years to come" – probably because he knows he played the media game right. The worst thing he could have done was stay quiet about it. Now at least he's going to end up with an actual Xbox One and an apology for his trouble.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @MikeLeePearl

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