What is Shill Bidding?

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Shill Bidding is when Sellers place bids (whether blatantly or under a disguise) on their own listings with the intent to raise the bid price in the hope that other bidders would feel forced to bid for that item at a higher price, thereby artificially inflating the perceived market value or desirability of the product that is on auction.

Often a family member or roommate may bid on the Seller’s item because they really want to win the item. The reality however, is that these bidders are in a situation where they are usually able to communicate directly with the Seller, thereby creating a unique scenario that is unfair to other bidders that do not have direct contact with the Seller. For this reason it is regarded as unfair practice for these bidders to bid on the Seller’s item in the traditional auction-style listing. Should a family member or friend genuinely be interested in purchasing the product, the Seller should resort to listing the item as a straight-forward sale with a fixed price i.e. a Buy Now. This removes the risk of misleading other potential Buyers about the market value of the product, as the price is specified and can therefore not be inflated at any point in time.

It is regarded by most online auction websites including bidorbuy as a deceitful and underhanded tactic used mostly by conniving scam artists and therefore bidorbuy has a strict policy against this sort of behaviour and would usually blacklist any Seller participating in this practice from using the site in the future. In some countries, shill bidders have been criminally prosecuted for shill bidding where such prosecutions have resulted in both misdemeanor and felony convictions and large penalties including fines and restitution of damages.

If you suspect shill bidding on an item or auction, please use the "Spot a Problem" link under the Description box to alert us to this or email communitywatch@bidorbuy.co.za. We do monitor the site on a daily basis for this practice and if users are found to be shill bidding, a range of actions can be taken against them.