A little research can save you a big headache.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not really after you. And just because you take steps to protect yourself doesn't mean that there aren't sellers ready to sell you a lot of hot air. Fortunately, eBay provides a lot of tools to help you discern the good sellers from the bad.
Naturally, feedback (see Chapter 1) should be your first recourse, not only when you suspect a seller of being dishonest, but any time you bid on an item sold by someone you don't know. But there are limitations to the feedback system. For one, it relies on the intelligence of past buyers, something you can never count on. It also takes a few weeks for feedback (negative or otherwise) to make its way back to a seller, so a new seller—or an experienced member new to selling—may be able to sell under the guise of a trustworthy seller for up to a month before his reputation catches up to him.
You've heard it before, and it undoubtedly runs through your head when you're looking at certain auctions: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Now, there are certainly more exceptions to this rule on eBay than at most other places, mostly due to sellers who don't know what they're selling or don't do a good job of constructing the auction. (In fact, I've gotten some great deals—even to the point of effectively getting stuff for free—simply by being more knowledgeable than the ...