So far, this chapter has described a bunch of ways to tweak your auctions to increase your visibility and your profits. This section looks at some bright ideas that, when you think it through, turn out not to be so bright. Some of these practices are illegal (shill bidding); others are against eBay policy (keyword spamming and fee avoidance). Avoid all these practices to keep your eBay record (and your conscience) clean.
Shill bidding (Section 4.3.2) is bidding on your own auction, or having an accomplice bid for you, to drive up an item's price. For example, a seller might have two eBay IDs and use one of them to bid, or convince a friend or family member to bid on an item with no intention of buying it. Shill bidding can be tempting when lots of people are watching an item but no one's bidding—just one false bid to get things rolling—or when bidding is slow and it looks like an item will sell for a lot less than the seller thinks it's worth.
No matter how tempting, shill bidding is illegal. In 2001, for example, the federal government charged three men with running an art fraud ring on eBay; the accused listed fake paintings and then bid on each others' auctions to drive up the price, defrauding buyers of hundreds of thousands of dollars during a year and a half of shill bidding. Even if the feds never come after you, if eBay catches you shill bidding, you'll be suspended from the site.
Trying to attract buyers to your auction by putting ...