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Unscrupulous Sellers

johnsbricksjohnsbricks Member Posts: 210
I've recently been buying MISB lego on sites like ebay and keep the items without opening the boxes. I guess it is possible that a seller could open the box in some way, remove all lego and fill with something cheap like megablocks, then glue the box back again. It is an elaborate fraud but things like this happen with other items such as the laptop potato fraud - Thing is, for the MISB collector, we maybe holding onto boxes full of rubbish! Has this ever happened to anyone or am I being too paranoid?


  • Rainstorm26Rainstorm26 Chicago Burbs USA (and sometimes Ireland)Member Posts: 1,010
    I once bought a HP quidditch set at Target that had a small hole in the box (less than the size of a minifig). When I opened it, all the figures were gone. They were nice enough to exchange it, but it does happen. I vaguely recall another event at a TRU where this happened as well, but there was no hole. The person somehow manages to open the tape, take out the minifigs, reseal and return it unnoticed. I think someone with a bigger collection who buys/sells might be able to better answer how often this happens.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Northern VirginiaAdministrator, Moderator Posts: 5,234
    This is my biggest fear as most all of my sets are still MISB and were purchased from TRU, Target, etc.
  • DavidBrickleyDavidBrickley Richmond, VAMember Posts: 362
    Well, theft is theft. period. But whether anyone is sitting on MISB missing pieces or figures? I don't know. If you buy them to literally never, ever open them, then you'll never know for sure anyway so don't stress out about it. If you buy it for resale, and the person who buys it says "hey, it was missing pieces!", you'll never really know if you acquired it that way or if the buyer is pulling a scam. Either way, not a lot you can do about it then, either.

    I always check the lego tape on both ends of the boxes. While it may not be foolproof, it does add a measure of comfort. Recently at a wal-mart on the clearance aisle, I found a few sets where the tape had been popped and the box resealed with scotch tape. But that's wal-mart, so I wasn't really surprised.
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    I have one particular set that I am nervous about. It is the Whitecap Bay POTC set, bought from Argos at the recent sale price of £43.99.
    It has a sticker on that it has been inspected for quality contrl by Argos, but it also has a small hole in the back of the box. I have a feeling it may have been a customer return, but it was the last one at this very attractive price, so I took it. Its currently queued up behind a lot of my other MISB sets, but I might have to make this sooner rather than later based on my concerns.
    I also have a friend who worked at Toys R Us, and she said there have been instances of lego sets, in particular Star Wars sets, where 'customers' try to slip out the smaller minifig bags and then put the sets back on the shelf. For this reason I now tend to take sets from further back on the shelf and check the seals very carefully before proceeding to the checkout.
  • collect_thatcollect_that Kidderminster, EnglandMember Posts: 1,327
    I guess these are few and far between, the real pain in the @$$ ebay sellers are those who haven't grasped what complete means!! The odd piece is neither here or there most of the time, but when you receive a set and there aren't even enough pieces to fill a polybag it makes me wanna go postal!!
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,550
    I've recently been buying MISB lego on sites like ebay and keep the items without opening the boxes. I guess it is possible that a seller could open the box in some way, remove all lego and fill with something cheap like megablocks, then glue the box back again. It is an elaborate fraud but things like this happen with other items such as the laptop potato fraud - Thing is, for the MISB collector, we maybe holding onto boxes full of rubbish! Has this ever happened to anyone or am I being too paranoid?
    In 2008 there was a rash of video game console theft via the same method as the laptop potato fraud you mention. People were buying the consoles (Xbox I think though it might have been Nintendo...last console I got was a Sega Genesis!) and then returned it either replaced with wooden copies or boxes filled with rocks. The former were apparently quite good and with a painted finish looked like the actual product thus twarting return clerks who opened the boxes to check that the console was inside.

    I had too many bad experiences with "MISB" sets on eBay to trust that term there. Aside from flat-out dishonesty, some sellers try to stretch the definition. Mint is mint, not opened and built once, opened but "never built" (yeah, who opens the box but doesn't build it?) or "Mint in Sealed Bags" as more than one seller tried to claim. One even extended the term "sealed bags" to refer to the Ziploc bags that he put the pieces in.

    Combined, these experiences are why I primarily purchase Lego directly from Shop-at-Home. Yeah, it's more expensive sometimes but aside from the occassional FedEx driver apparently using the box to fight off a pack of rabid bears or something, I'm guaranteed that the MISB sets arrive MISB.
  • johnsbricksjohnsbricks Member Posts: 210
    i guess if a box looks dodge, it could be but has anyone ever experienced a mint looking box, with seals intact that has been expertly glued back?
  • pantenkindpantenkind Member Posts: 258
    My only real experiences with this both came from a store. First was the Death Star I bought at the lego store in Mall of America. I got back home a few days later and started to build it only to realize all the minifigs were gone. I called LEGO and they confirmed my purchase and replaced all of them so it worked out well. The other was not lego but I felt worth mentioning. I bought an AT-AT toy from Wal-Mart and when I got home and opened the box it was full of garbage...Literally. I immediately went back and explained to customer service what happened, although I could understand their concern I think the fact that I had only purchased it an hour or so before convinced them. I think had I waited a day or so to open it I would have been out my 100.00. I know neither of these are EBAY horror stories, but I think it goes to show you have to be careful no matter where you buy from. Both boxes looked perfect and felt right.
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    If a box looks like it may have been opened, ask to open it in the presence of the checkout person. I did that at target with a clearance set recently, and found that the set had been built, then partially disassembled, stuffed into ziplock bags, and tossed back into the box.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,717
    I guess these are few and far between, the real pain in the @$$ ebay sellers are those who haven't grasped what complete means!! The odd piece is neither here or there most of the time, but when you receive a set and there aren't even enough pieces to fill a polybag it makes me wanna go postal!!
    There is a WORLD of difference between Mint in SEALED box and Complete....
    They are referring to MISB in this thread.

    MISB (Mint in sealed box) means mint in SEALED box, by that I mean fqactory sealed (again up to opinion to some sellers and bidders, more on that later).. if the seals are broken/missing then I'd guess you'd know immediately that the auction was incorrect and therefore subject to refund. I go out of my way to stated the itemwas never opened and is still factory sealed from Lego.

    As for the other people complaining about how 'evil' and 'mistrusting' all sellers are on eBay (apparently), that is bunk.

    Also, you know, you can ASK sellers on eBay what they mean by MISB -Mint in sealed box, mint in ziploc bags... etc...
    It amazes me how many people do not do this... It really does... Instead all I hear in these types of threads is griping about how the seller mislead someone, or flat out lied.. If you ASK them what they mean by something and they LIE in an email then you have PROOF to get your money back via paypal refund.....

    In addition, look for those selling an item that show the ACTUAL item, not someone that took a picture from a Lego Database somewhere (I see this A LOT on eBay.. people too lazy to take a pic of what they are selling, or use a 'form' picture, that is, someone using a pic from a catalog).

    Also do not buy from someone selling Death stars for 100 dollars and have 100 of them..
    While there ARE thieves on eBay,(and they should be dealt with appropriately as I have gotten burned in the past) there are those with differing opinions and just flat out in too much of a hurry to note everything. It is also up to the Bidder/buyer to use common sense too and ask questions and if it appears too good to be true, then it (usually) is!

    As for those who really unscrupulous to open a box and yank everything out of it to replace with whatever.. It will happen no matter what medium (except MAYBE craigslist, but if you mean some 300lb guy with a fake lego set are you really going to try to get your money back from him?) that this will occur...
    That is what feedback is for. If someone has 500+ recent seller feedbacks then it is most likely a legit auction..
    Check the auction history, or their seller feedback, if they have a ton of positive feedback for the same items over a few months then they are probably ok, is if foolproof? By no means, but it definitely should put you in the correct direction.

    Heck some 22 yr old woman just bought a wooden iPad from guys in a McDonald's Restaurant parking lot, so anything is possible...

  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind CheshireMember Posts: 2,101
    this is why i love being a buyer who isnt bothered by MISB because half the time they dont have a box you literally see what your getting.

    I dont think there are that many horror stories your just being paranoid. Many of these things are really really really rare and can get over blown (Daily Mail for those in the UK). 99.9% of ebayers are not people who try and con you or cheat you. you just have to realise whats MISB to some people isnt to others we are al lego-tards in one way or another. When i buy lego i have to clean it. im sure no one has ever done something to it but its just my obession.

    As for people buying stuff from people iun car parks or on the street well what the hell did they expect its a guy on a street. I have no sympathy for people who lose common sense over something. If its to good to be true IT IS to good to be true i honestly think some people would buy magic beans if they were told they were actual magic beans.
  • RavenhookRavenhook Member Posts: 70
    edited September 2011
    ^^ I agree with all these tips. And while I'm sure there are horror stories, the majority of reputable eBay sellers care too much about their rating and feedback to try a stunt like the one in the original post.

    (You can also usually pick out the sharks by CAREFUL reading of the listing. Just as 99% of phishing emails can be identified by spelling or grammatical errors, scammers on eBay give themselves away too. Often by the simple presence of something being too good to be true.)

    What actually gets me about eBay is the obscene prices that some BUYERS are willing to bid to.

    Sometimes I see a set and think, "that would be good for my collection if I can get it at the right price". I research it carefully on Bricklink, seeing what past sales went for and what it's selling for in other countries.

    (LEGO is one of those products where international freight eats into a large chunk of its value, especially secondhand, so buying locally is preferred.)

    I then discount it based on visible wear and tear in the photos and description, add a bit for the "must have" factor, and come to a final price.

    Having decided on this, I then join the bidding and in some cases wait to the very end to "snipe" a bargain by not letting my bids push the price too high.

    Only to have two people come in the last few minutes with bids that I honestly think are over double what the item is worth.

    By which I mean: you could Bricklink a MISB new set from a country on the other side of the world and have it express air freighted for less then they've paid for a 10 year old teeth bitten half missing pile of pieces.

    Such careful preparation wasted!
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    It's not hard to detect if a box at Target, TRU or WalMart has been tampered with.

    LEGO has two types of boxes: "break to open" and the bigger ones that are sealed with two sealing tapes on each side. Break to open boxes are almost impossible to be "sealed back", although I've seen people opening them by the back, instead of breaking the actual seals, but still, it leaves marks on the back of the box, so it should be possible to detect any problems, if the box looks funny, specially compared to other sets on the shelf.

    On the larger, tape-sealed boxes, if you inspect the seals carefully, you can see if they were open before, and if they were, I feel comfortable opening the box myself in the store to check the contents. It doesn't need to be at checkout, just grab an employee so they will not think you are shoplifting.

    Another thing you can do is shake the box a bit and hear the particular noise LEGO bricks do when they are shaken. This will at least take away the fear of finding rocks or dirt inside the box, but of course it does not show you if there's minifigures missing and such. Comparing the weight of similar sets may help you too. Boxes with the original contents replaced will have different weight from others of the same set.

    A final advice would be to not buy anything with a "small hole" in it. Most likely there's something missing from the box. I also avoid boxes that even though they are sealed from the factory, they are also too beaten up, so the contents may not be intact.

    Again, I always check the seals, weight and noise of the bricks before buying any set in a store, and even though I make a living building online stores, I usually don't buy online, not even on eBay anymore, as I've been burned quite often. Latest one being an used Ferrari Lego set I bought in June and still have not seen the color of it because the stupid seller shipped the box to a different address.

    For me, nothing beats the pleasure of going to the store, grab the box and bring home to assemble a brand new set!

  • johnsbricksjohnsbricks Member Posts: 210
    It is interesting to hear how many shop bought lego has hadn't even occured to me that people will tamper in store or even buy, tamper then return.

    Ive had a try to see how easy it is to open some of my own boxes and reseal them and it is surprisingly simple to make it look like an unopened box.

    Lego should really improve the security of their boxes!
  • JP3804JP3804 Member Posts: 332
    I have had clerks at TARGET warn me to check the seals so I think this happens more than we think.
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    @ johnsbricks. I think this is an excellent point. As somebody who likes to keep some of his collection MISB, I don't really like the small clear seals much. I would like to see a return to the old style where you could lift the flap of the box and see the parts and some of the minfigs held in the plastic molding. I have a MISB copy of the 6494 Time Cruisers Mystic Mountain Lab, that has this very style of box. It also means you can (sort of), enjoy the contents even if you don't make the model immediately.
  • legoDadlegoDad Member Posts: 529
    edited September 2011
    Target store bought Agent set looked great, boxed perfect/mint and even the tape/seal. Sure enough, the figs missing, but Lego, with no questions asked sent me the figs. Another Target, Space Police Galactic perfect but as I'm about to head to check out, my eagle-eyed kid notice the tape was a little off. Opened up back at the aisle, all the figs and the spaceman statue fig gone. Another Galactic Enforcer on the shelf with beat up box/torn..dented...I opened it up to check(the clerk there was cool and didn't mind since I showed him parts were missing from another set)...all parts, figs, bags sealed and beautiful...would've passed on this normally with the beaten to crap box but it was all there.
    If the box looks beat up or whatever and your local clerk doesn't mind you checkin', open it up before you buy to check that everything's there.
  • AScaryOctopusAScaryOctopus Member Posts: 57

    I've seen how they do it. I saw some guy oh so gently pull the tape off the tape on a Star Destroyer, shaked the bags out, cut them open, took the minifigs out, then stuff the bags back in and put the tape back on the tabs. I'm surprised he didn't notice me. I decided to be a white knight and got him in trouble though.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,654
    I was in my local TRU the other day looking for CMF 5's and saw a shelf of about 10 large Star Wars Lego sets all marked about 30% off and decided to look at them. Upon close inspection of the tags all of the sets were missing the minifigs. It shocked me how someone would be willing to steal all of the figs out for their own selfishness. Just surprises the heck out of me.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,110
    @AScaryOctopus the guy did that right there in the store?
  • legoDadlegoDad Member Posts: 529
    ^I've heard that many times from clerks. Regardless of items, toys, whatever...some will just steal pieces, parts, etc...straight in the store.
  • malachirobertsonmalachirobertson Indiana, USAMember Posts: 268
    Minifigures seems to be a popular item to steal, probably because they are small and easily concealed. My son and I have found the figures gone from Lego watches and the special figures from DK Lego books. Then there are the ripped open CMF bags that I find at some department stores.
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    @malachirobertson yes, I see that all the time: Watches missing minifigures at Target, and at my local WalMart, there are about 20 DK books for Star Wars or Harry Potter, and they are all missing the figures. The thief had stolen bags from DK's Brickmaster books as well. About 6 of them. Not to mention the tear open CMFs. Honestly, I am yet to find a Harry Potter Minifigure DK book that actually HAD the bonus collectible minifigure yet... probably kids are stealing those from books.

    I bought about 20 randomly picked Series 5 CMFs from the same WalMart yesterday (no patience to "feel the bags" at the store, so I do them at home, and return the ones I don't want), and when I got home and started feeling the bags, I noticed one of them had a 2 inch cut on the back, probably done with a box cutter, and was taped back, with clear tape - A lousy job, may I add - so I opened and the Egyptian Queen minifig was intact inside the bag.
  • AScaryOctopusAScaryOctopus Member Posts: 57
    edited September 2011


    There's also not a single DK or Brickmaster book with minifigs or parts in them.
  • doodlebirddoodlebird Austin. Texas. Member Posts: 88
    i've seen way to many CMF s5 parts loose laying in amongst the sealed bags at my local target. who are these people that can't / won't pay 2.99 ??

    i always feel good buying from my local lego store (lucky enough to have one, i know). i witnessed a parent returning an open box, asking for a full refund. the employees were smart enough to check out the box contents. the set was 7869-1: Battle for Geonosis, with the Captain Rex that only comes in that set. they checked for figs, and figured that if the lady was honest enough to leave that guy in there, she (or her kid) probably didn't take anything else out... and then that set gets either broken down for bulk brick grab bags, or put down to at least a 20% discount for "damaged box".

    i've never had a seemingly sealed box come up short or empty, but i am thrilled to hear the tales of Lego corporate making it right.... one the many reasons we love this company!
  • BeardedCastleGuyBeardedCastleGuy Member Posts: 127
    @AScaryOctopus Certainly there are DK Brickmaster books with parts and 'figs in them. I have a DK Brickmaster Castle book within arms reach I got as a gift from my nephews, I don't see an ISBN but it has a Item # 520522 above the UPC and a UPC of 9780756672812 .
    I am sometimes leary of sets that appeared to be opened or tampered with but if it is discounted enough or I want it enough I sometimes take a chance, so far I've come out alright when I have taken chances but it's not super often I do so.
    But I've not even considered buying 'sealed' sets on ebay due to the high likelyhood of my not liking what I get or running into a scam but that's a choice I make, I already have PLENTY of ways of blowing my LEGO budget without venturing onto fleabay err ebay as well....
  • PerryMakesPerryMakes Member Posts: 73
    edited September 2011
    ^ Hey! I don't know about anyone else, but I felt left hanging - waiting for the end of the story!! ;) Was the minifig still there???
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    ^ Yeah same! Was Captain Rex still there or was she trying to do a swifty?
  • RobbRobb Member Posts: 144
    they checked for figs, and figured that if the lady was honest enough to leave that guy in there, she (or her kid) probably didn't take anything else out...
    ^ I believe the answer to your question is implied in his story. They checked and it was not missing.
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    I remember this post from Eurobricks showing how it can be done without breaking the seals. Basically just opening one of the sides without the seals and then re-gluing.

    You really gotta look carefully at the boxes before buying them. Attached is a photo of a 7676 I bought which really looked suspicious with the gluing. I bought it anyway because it was on clearance, was during extra +20% off clearance, and BOGO. I opened it at the store in case it was filled with megablocks or something. It had all the figs removed, but otherwise all the pieces were there.
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    @sidersdd that post on Eurobricks blew my mind. Specially the article with the guy arrested by stealing $200k in Legos from Target. We sure need to be careful when buying even the bigger sets. One solution to the problem would be if TLG shrinkwrap the the boxes, pretty much like the Lego Games line of products. It would likely increase the price of the product, however, it would make things a bit harder for thieves.
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,764
    ^ I think shrinkwrapping would be a really good idea, I like the way the games are wrapped. It would offer a level of protection from shelf skuffing to the boxes too.
    Not sure if it should increase the price, wouldnt have thought that the games are more expensive because of it. For a company the size of TLG a tiny bit of shrinkwrap cannot really add huge expense I would not think.
  • johnsbricksjohnsbricks Member Posts: 210
    Maybe it's a marketing thing that they don't shrinkwrap boxes - boxes of lego wouldn't 'feel' as good if they were wrapped in plastic.
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    Maybe these "losses" are part of the "game". I mean, every company has a certain amount of loss they can take in a year basis, that's why TLG does not improve the security of the boxes. They just like the way it is, with the boxes displaying fantastically on the shelves, they sell more. But if that's the case, why LEGO games are shrink wrapped?
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    ^ Is it the way the games are bagged inside? I've never bought one so don't know, but if the pieces are all loose then the shrinkwrap would be necessary. If they're all bagged like regular sets then I have no idea :)
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,258
    ^^ I think it's because they are more like board game boxes, with a lid that slides off.
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,825
    ^ Now there's a thought. Wouldn't it be nice if traditional sets came in such boxes. LEGO, if you're listening, I'd pay another £1 a set if you provided such a box. :o)
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    @ flump6523,

    I think you make a good point. Some of the UCS of collector series sets surely justify a sturdier or 'special' box, especially as with the weight, the pressure on the standard cardboard can be immense.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,717
    I thought Lego sets were shrink wrapped and one time?

    I think Lego needs to hear about this directly, if you return an item to a store then they just throw it is a bin to go back to a warehouse.. I doubt much more happens than that.. If anything, they just report the box as a theft, or 'opened', and not as a report of a possible problem with Lego's packaging.
    Sadly it is a different world out there now with a lot of people who are unethical enough to do something like this.
    like @coolpix said this is probably accounted for by the 'bean counters' but obviously this leads to an increasing loss on confidence of not being able to buy their product because of their packaging not being trusted OR having to account for losses received when people start calling up Lego customer service to ask for all the figures that were missing...

    I think though everyone does have to remember that Lego probably never expected someone to hold onto a set indefinitely to resell or to hold onto for an 'x' length of time and then it being opened..

  • sarlacc98sarlacc98 Member Posts: 1
    I have never had this happen to me but one of my friends got one from Wal-mart and it was missing all its minifigures he then returned it and got a new one.
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,825
    edited September 2011
    And then are those that just full-on open the box right there in the store. It's not as if there's anything worth nicking in this particular set (not open for discussion) :o).

    It wasn't me by the way!
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