A Disturbing Search Trend – Shill Bids for Sale?

It’s no wonder with the rise of “Facebook fans for sale” sites (these have been a real hot mover in recent market snapshots) that we’d eventually encounter a demand for organized shill bidding in auctions — if you can buy fans, why not bids?  Looks like it might be on its way.

While going through my recent search logs, I was pretty disturbed to see a fair amount of traffic coming to the site for phrases like “buy Flippa bids.”  You see, shill bidding is easy to spot when it’s a single user registering multiple accounts and bidding on his own auction.  You can track ip addresses, cookies, or more closely monitor recently created accounts.

This type of bad behavior is much more difficult to track when it’s not just one bad actor, but instead is the result of collusion.  Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that anyone is offering this type of service, but if the demand exists (people are searching for it), some shady character is likely to provide the supply.

Hopefully Flippa (and any of the other marketplaces) are staying on top of bidding patterns to prevent this from becoming a reality.

  • They need to ban them like eBay does. Disgraceful.

  • This certainly is a bit of a concern. Flippa have done something really great with thieir auction extending when bids are placed at the end of an auction, however, I can see this kind of thing happening more and more. Although I think that spotting this kind of bid activity would have to be quite easy, as if the dud bidder wins, they are going to have to pay for the site, right? Then what happens when it is listed again…