I have been seeing a lot of listings for "please help me buy my kids a (Blank). Is this legal?

I have been seeing a lot of eBay listings for "please help me buy my kids a (insert popular item here.) The listings are described as donations to an individual seller not a non-profit organization. This can’t be legal? Right?

Here are examples of what I am taking about.

I am not even sure if this is against ebay policy (I’ve read through it thoroughly), but it does seem shady at the least. Is this a legal way of raising funds for personal use?:dubious:

Why would this be illegal?

I do believe begging is legal in most jurisdictions.

because you are soliciting funds as “donations” which they aren’t. It’s like begging on the streets but instead you are behind a computer screen. Begging is against the law, I live in a city where people are arrested to stop solicitation on street corners and chased off by the police for doing so all the time. This has got to be true for sites like eBay as well, I was wondering if anyone could explain to me in legal terms if it is illegal or not in this context.

Is that second link correct? Looks like a regular sale there. My main concern with these types of sales would be confusion between a donation and a regular sale. As a user of eBay, I expect that the items in an auction are items I am bidding on for myself, not for a third party.

I think it is the annoying people in the streets (and other public places) aspect of begging that is the reason that it has been made illegal in some places. I doubt whether most of such laws are written in such a way that they would apply to begging on web sites (and even if some of them are, I doubt whether that was the intention of the legislators). I think most such laws are directed at the causing of a public nuisance, rather than at begging as such.

Yes they are. Money that you give to a beggar is a donation. Come to that, charities that solicit donations are begging.

Imagine explains to your new cellie in Leavenworth that you’re there because of an EBay ad.

Consider the huge popularity of such sites as GoFundMe, most of whose traffic is exactly this kind of begging for donations. Nobody’s shutting them down.

Yes, even begging on the street is generally a legal activity, as long as it doesn’t cross over into “aggressive panhandling”:

This. The majority of statutes address the issue of aggressive panhandling, and include language about intimidating behavior and causing public disruptions.

Even so, many of these laws are getting challenged and overturned rather regularly, on constitutional grounds:

Begging Bans Around U.S. Face Challenges in Court.

Thanks! I am looking for a PS4 to surprise my husband with for Christmas, and was wondering how prevalent this type of listing would be. Looks like there is no way to avoid getting these listings in my search results, so I will have to be VERY careful before bidding on anything or even just buying. I’ve bid $250 in a “used” console that is listed as in working order and with all parts, so hopefully I’ll get that one and not have to deal with the scammers begging for money.

I read a rant from a guy who bought an empty bottle of Sam Adams Utopias beer on EBay. The ad clearly stated that the seller really enjoyed the beer, and the bottle is somewhat of a collector’s item. Still, the buyer was looking for a “deal” and didn’t read closely enough, just saw “Utopias” and the picture with a bargain price.

Buyer beware in this case really applies. Thanks again for the feedback. I have reported a few of the listings, but am not going to waste anymore time or brainpower to worrying about them anymore. It’s legal and they can try and make money however they choose I suppose, no matter how ethically repugnant it seems to me. :stuck_out_tongue:

Due diligence is important, but if you do wind up buying one of these scam items, I’d bet dollars to donuts that eBay would refund your money. eBay is an auction house, not a charity.

There are laws that can be applied but the violations fall well below the threshold of any government agency caring. If the person begging received an item or money and didn’t report it as income the IT’S could make a stink. (I think if it’s under $600 it’s below the reporting threshold.)

An associate of mine in Massachusetts did a Facebook campaign begging for money to keep his failing business open. People sent him money. The state decided to prosecute him in an unprecedented legal manner and won.
The judgement against him required he pay back any contributer and prevents him from filing bankruptcy.
Why they state thought they needed to make an example of him is beyond me.

There must be a point that the begging request is deceitful.

BIll gates could write it

  • My family is in a financial crisis ( unstated: they are drowning in cash)

  • We can’t get a mortgage (unstated: because every bank knows how much cash they have)

  • I can’t put anything on my credit card (unstated: because hackers keep using his details)

  • My daughter is crying to get a playstation for years . (unstated: because I will only let her get an Xbox)

  • So donate to buy my daughter a playstation…
    Is it obtaining benefits by deception or just begging ?

Shouldn’t all such people be approved ? only donate to approved beggars ?

But the internet causes problems with enforcing these rules… these approvals are done at city or state level, and the internet can let them beg across state and country borders…

Same thing with gambling… and don’t get me started on penny auctions (… Its also gambling …they should have to be approved gambling companies at least in the state of their head office. )

Some places are trying to require a license for panhandling. (around $5) Guess those are being challenged in court too.

:rolleyes:Please Help!
Need money to buy
Panhandling License.

Not “illegal” in the, erm, legal sense, as others have pointed out. But it’s definitely against ebay’s TOS: “Listings that don’t offer anything for sale or those that offer intangible items aren’t allowed”

If you go to report the listing, “The listing is not selling an item or service” is one of the reasons you can give.

And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest Father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean ‘n’ ugly ‘n’ nasty ‘n’ horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, . . . “What were you arrested for, kid?” And I said, “Begging.” And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I said, “And creating a nuisance.” And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing, Father raping [and begging], all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the bench.