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Buying a used drone? Don't get scammed!
1065 3 2020-8-27
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Martyzion
First Officer
Flight distance : 1528645 ft
United States
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Authenticity and a warranty are not an issue if you buy a new drone from an authorized retailer or DJI direct.  But  if you’re like me,  those high prices for DJI quality can lead you to look into a used product on places like Ebay or Craigslist.  You may save considerable coin but you risk of being scammed with either a stolen, defective or downright non-existent product.  Here are some things I’ve learnt from personal experience-
DJI drones have counterfeit protection through their activation process.  When the  DJI drone is new,  you must activate it through the app.  The process checks the serial number against a production list.  If the drone was stolen from the factory or a retailer, that number will be inactive and the drone will not fly.  If the number was cloned and affixed to a fake drone, the drone will not pass activation either.  This protects DJI but not the consumer. If the drone were to be stolen after activation, there is no recourse to have DJI deactivate it (that I know of).
So what are the pitfalls of a used drone of Ebay or Craigs?  You could get a drone that won’t activate.  But more likely you’ll get a drone with undisclosed mechanical issues. Camera gimbals are one element prone to malfunction from a crash and by the time you figure it out, the seller may be long gone.   I’ve bought quads which had undisclosed repairs such as hot glue reattached arms, mismatched motors, unresponsive GPS module, even water damage which eventually killed the drone.  But at least I got something for my money.
A lot of listings on Ebay are for things which do not exist. You’ll see the same photos used by different sellers- like a listing for a Mavic 2 which shows a Mavic Pro, or accessories which don’t match the drone.  Despite being often obvious,  I foolishly bought a Mavic from a seller in Israel who sent me bogus tracking info. By the time I figured it out, the seller’s account had been deleted.  Ebay was of no help at that point.  Fortunately I had used Paypal linked to an Amex card, so I was able to make a case of non-delivery to both and get my money back.  But it was a hassle to say the least.   A seller like that with mostly buyer feedback and  hailing from a distant country is a red flag.   Basically the best clue is the deal too good to be true, like a Mavic 2 Zoom package for 800 USD
There are listings for DJI drones on Ebay that are cheap toy clones sold at enough discount to entice buyers.  I'd link an example but they pop up and disappear once a dozen or so get sold.   Don’t rely on Ebay to police scams.  The fee collected for a scam sale is indistinguishable from that collected for legitimate ones.  Poor feedback from an angry buyer actually increases the fees extracted from the seller.  In any case, always use Paypal backed with a credit card so you have two forms of recourse in the event you are dissatisfied.
Craigslist also relies on its user base to police scams through flagging posts.  I avoid Craigslist on principle since the sales process is sketchy if not downright dangerous.  Instagram is also another hotbed of scams whether it's for cheap lookalike drones or part 107 'training'.
I fly a Spark and an Air, both purchased through my local drone club.  I joined through Facebook and the sellers were vouched for by other members I knew.   I could have saved some bucks buying from a stranger- but remember, a sketchy drone is not just a financial but a public safety hazard, so it’s more than buyer beware.

2020-8-27
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Montfrooij
Captain
Flight distance : 2399075 ft
Netherlands
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Thanks for the tip!
2020-9-3
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XGrey
lvl.2

United States
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thanks for the helpful advice
2020-9-3
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A J
Captain
Flight distance : 13838848 ft
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United Kingdom
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Thanks for sharing
2020-9-3
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