Scam Warning: Console Shortage Leads to Increase in Phony Listings

Scam Warning: Console Shortage Leads to Increase in Phony Listings


New consoles are harder to get now than ever before. Despite months having gone by since the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, the two systems remain nearly impossible to find in stock. Even if you are able to find one on a secondhand selling site, you’re likely to spend much, much more than MSRP on the item.

This shortage is due to a number of complicated factors. It’s made things easy for scalpers to make a quick buck, and it’s also made scammers come out to take advantage of the situation. Here are the scams you need to watch out for when you’re shopping for a new console.

Phony Listings

If a listing on a secondhand site like eBay or Facebook Marketplace looks too good to be true, it is. Suspiciously well-priced listings don’t stay up for long right now, meaning that cheap PS5 probably isn’t a PS5 at all, but is instead just the box. These phony listings are all too common and can lead to unsuspecting marks losing out on a lot of money.

Make sure you research a seller before you spend any money online. If you’re meeting someone in person to make an exchange, bring a friend with you to keep an eye on things and ask to be allowed to inspect the item to make sure it’s real before you hand over any money.


Another common practice with new systems is “scalping,” purchasing large quantities of the items in order to sell them for a high markup on sites like eBay. This might not seem like a “scam” at first blush, but it’s a harmful practice that makes it harder for legitimate buyers to get the new systems.

Scalpers usually employ scripts that allow them to scoop up new listings faster than normal buyers can, allowing them to buy up all of the stock and then jack up the prices.

Third-Party Hardware

Before you buy a new controller, make sure it’s not actually a third-party device being marketed as the real thing. Sony’s DualShock 4 controllers are very hard to find right now due to a parts shortage, leading to a huge uptick in refurbished or third-party controllers being sold instead.

If you’re paying top-dollar for a replacement controller, you don’t want it to be a shoddy third-party piece of hardware. Make sure you’re doing your research before you pay any money, and don’t be afraid to contest a purchase if the item isn’t exactly as advertised.