19 March 2022

What are Scalper Bots and How to Stop Them

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While having a business on eBay, there is much to keep in mind. What you post for sale matters significantly, and how you post your items matters greatly as well. Many people who want to buy something but can't find the item quickly may look for another site instead.

What are scalper bots

A common issue with online stores these days is that they restrict how many times the same person can place bids or bid amounts per day. eBay and other websites have implemented this to prevent someone from buying out all of the available stock of an item and reselling it again at a higher price - scalping.

You might know this as "bots" or "scalper bots." Several different bots will stop at nothing to buy out all of the stock, even if it means making hundreds or thousands of bids in just a few minutes.

What are Scalper Bots?

Scalping bots are computer programs that automatically place bids on massive items left by other people for sale. They can also be used to bid quickly and repeatedly, but this is much more difficult to do without getting caught - which we will explain shortly. So, how do scalper bots work? There are different types of scalper bots.

Form Fillers

First, there's a form filler bot. This type will automatically fill out your item listing with information from previous sales about the product you're trying to sell, along with other data such as how many sold and at what price point. It then uses this information to place bids on the same item.

Auto Refreshers

An auto refresher bot works similarly. The difference is that it will refresh your webpage until some information changes, such as an increased price point or new inventory available for sale. Once something new happens, the item gets added to its search-and-buy list, and it will start placing bids again until it runs out of funds or the auction ends.


A pre-bot is just like any other scalper bot. It automatically places bids at specific points in time, but what makes these bots different from others is that they're set to go off at regular intervals during the week - usually early in the morning when you may not be at your computer.

This means they can buy up as many items as possible before you even have a chance to bid on an item yourself.

Scalper Bot Goals

In general, the goal of scalper bots is to purchase as many of certain products as they can before anyone else has a chance to place a single bid. Once the auction ends and all of the stock is bought out, the bots will then turn around and sell those items for an enormous profit - usually on another website targeting customers looking for deals online.

The bot operator then gets paid by the site, which gets its cuts from each sale made through its service. In other words, they make money every time someone buys something from them.

Is it Illegal?

Scalping itself is not illegal. However, many people would argue that scalper bots are tantamount to using automated programs to place bids and quickly buy up all of the inventory.

Some also call the use of a bot underhanded since other people have no chance of winning an auction when someone uses a bot to outbid them - even if it's just a few seconds before they bid on the item.

Stopping Scalper Bots

There are various ways you can try and stop scalpers from using their systems against you. First, take your own actions by placing increasingly higher maximum bids for any auctions you're involved in. In other words, price yourself out of the market. This is a tactic people would commonly use to deter scalper bots back when they first hit the scene.

There are other tactics you should follow as well that can help prevent them from buying up your inventory, such as setting the alarm on your smartphone to go off at least five minutes before each item's auction end time - just enough time for you to schedule your bidding robot accordingly.

You might be wondering how so many people got caught by scalper bots in the first place. The answer has to do with security measures by eBay and other websites that allow third parties to sell products online through their service. eBay places restrictions on how much information third-party sellers can share about items they intend to sell.

This is done so that the business won't gain an unfair advantage by using bots or other automated systems to gain information about their competitors' product lineups.

So, how can scalpers find out what items people are selling on eBay before accepting bids? The answer boils down to which listings they can view without bidding themselves.

If you've ever seen the "Browse Similar Items By Category" links under certain items in your search results list, this was put there by eBay as a way for shoppers to compare similar products between sellers. It most likely has little or nothing to do with making sure buyers know all of the options available when trying to make a purchase.

Scalping Can Harm Your Business

If you've ever thought about selling your own products on eBay, you probably know the first thing scalpers will target is popular items. It doesn't matter if it's a used or new item, as long as there's a lot of traffic that goes through that single product page every day.

If they're able to find out what type of item is being sold, they can scrape the product listing for sale information and use one of their bots to snag up all of the auctions before anyone else has a chance to place a bid.

This might not seem like such a big deal at first glance. However, by using these automated systems to purchase everything so quickly, you're depriving yourself of the chance to sell your own inventory and potentially generate profits - which is what we're all trying to do in the world of e-commerce.


While scalping bots may seem like a clever idea to some people, all kinds of problems can arise when you allow them to buy up your auctions. The best thing you can do is be proactive in protecting your sales from scalpers by following all of the advice listed in this article.

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