3 Important Tips for Fraud Prevention in the Auction World

Auctions, both online and in-person are exciting and unique. In which other context can you peruse invaluable art, antique cars, Victorian furniture, and vintage fine jewelry in one place? Participating in an online or physical auction allows collectors a chance to acquire rare and treasured items that aren’t found in retail stores, and allows sellers to receive a good price on valuable goods that they are ready to part with. However, in order to avoid being taken advantage of by unethical buyers and sellers, it’s important to learn the basics of fraud prevention.

Unfortunately, there are unsavory characters in every industry and business on the planet, and auction sales are no exception. For first-time buyers and sellers as well as seasoned veterans of this world, scams and fraud are a threat. These unscrupulous individuals who perpetuate fraud can shortchange buyers and sellers out of prized items as well as money. Fraud prevention is an important aspect of being an informed participant in the auction world.

Whether you are buying or selling, online or in person, here are 3 ways that you can make fraud prevention one of your most valuable assets in the auction world:

Sellers should seek a certified appraiser affiliated with the International Society of Appraisers. The ISA bestowed the highest appraisal credential possible on Four Seasons Auction Gallery owner Charles S. Farr Jr.; less than 110 people in the world have achieved this designation. Wherever you choose to sell your goods, getting a certified appraisal is the only way to guarantee that an unethical buyer won’t scam you out of profit. Knowing the worth of your goods is essential. For buyers, keep in mind that every high-value item you purchase should come with easily available credentials- the seller should be able to provide you with documents that certify the item’s authenticity and value. If they can’t, it’s fair to be skeptical of the item’s actual worth, and you could be walking into a scam. Beware of rare items with prices that are “too good to be true”- they probably are!

Insurance appraisals are arguably the best way to protect your assets and to utilize fraud prevention. Only an insurance appraisal can guarantee reimbursement in the case of theft, damage, or loss. For items like heirloom jewelry, this is an important consideration. Most insurance companies won’t cover the loss of any goods that haven’t been appraised because the value is undetermined for these items. With the rise of online auctions, fraud and scams have increased as well. If you’re buying online, be sure to ask for certification of items to be certain of their value. If you’re a seller, an insurance appraisal can protect you against theft, especially online. That way, if you ship an item to a buyer and it turns out that they send a bad check, you don’t lose the entire value of the item because you can file an insurance claim to recover the loss.


Online fraud is one of the fastest-growing forms of theft in the digital age. Always know your buyer and seller. It’s best to only participate in online auctions that are conducted by reputable auction houses and galleries, rather than individual sellers. When an online auction is sponsored by a legitimate business like an auction house, you have a better chance of receiving the items you purchase in the condition in which they were advertised. Private sellers can, in fact, be scammers, who sell subpar goods, engage in a fraudulent advertisement, or fail to ship items that have been purchased. For sellers, assessing a potential buyer online is important as well. To avoid being the victim of a wire transfer scam, never agree to cash checks and re-send money back to the buyer, and always ensure that a check is good before shipping an item or attempting to withdraw or use funds.

Auctions should be fun, thrilling, and profitable for buyers and sellers. Collectors should be able to acquire prized items, and sellers should have an opportunity to get a fair price for their goods. Fraud prevention is a necessary aspect of ensuring a good experience for all parties who participate in an auction, whether online or in person. Unfortunately, there are immoral characters in the world looking to make a quick buck by scamming both experienced and novice auction enthusiasts. However, buyers and sellers with savvy can avoid becoming scam victims through fraud prevention and use of certified, reputable auction houses and appraisers. If you want to conduct business with an honest and successful industry leader that has received accolades for excellence in appraisal and auctioneering, contact the Four Seasons Auction Gallery today at 470-589-1653.