Government Auctions


Government Surplus Auctions: How the Scam Works

Everyone loves a good deal. With the plethora of online stores and products, there is no surprise that scammers come up with tricks that make you believe you are in for a treat. The latest scam has been occurring in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. We are talking about the Government Auction Scam, aka the Government Surplus Trap. How does that work?

A government auction is an auction of goods that have been confiscated by various government bodies and agencies. There are many types of auctions, from bankruptcy, liquidation and customs items to post office and airport lost property material. In this article, we provide you the list of the legitimate websites that offer these auctions in the four countries mentioned above. First, let's take a look at how to avoid the fraud and then we'll show you how to buy stolen goods legally.


government of canada auction

Suggested Read: CARES Act Scam


The Government Auctions Fraud Has Two Variations

In a similar fashion to the Police Vehicle Auctions Scam, criminals take advantage of naive people with a simple trick. They organize fake Government online auctions and then advertise them online, whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or by using the Google AdWords platform. Wouldn't you like to buy the newest smartphone for $89? Or a top-notch fridge for $56?

The criminals get the victims to pay for non-existent items by making them think they are getting great deals.

The scam has two variations. In the first one, the victims pay for something they believe they auctioned for, but never receive the product. It is a classic trap of getting someone's credit card information only to charge it and max it out without delivering anything. 

In the second case, cybercrooks claim to organize online Government surplus auctions for seized items, create good looking sites and say that all the objects are of high-end value and rare. They even send the buyers actual products. However, the items sent – mostly jewelry, brand name clothes, and other materials easy to ship – are nothing but cheap products made in China and then sold at ridiculous prices to victims who believe they've got amazing unique pieces.

Government Auctions in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia 

Let's take a look at all four, one by one.

If you are a U.S. citizen, watch the video below to get a good idea of how the Government auctions work:

Surplus Property Auction Video

In the United States, Government auctions are hosted by professional auctioneers. According to Wikipedia, “a wide variety of merchandise is available from several websites, both official and unofficial. The Internet provides services to various government agencies that allow them to sell surplus and confiscated items”.

On the other hand, GSA Auctions (General Services Administration) is a U.S. General Services Administration Federal Government website that does not charge the public to browse or to register. It also holds Surplus Personal Property Sales. There are also commercial sites that aggregate federal, state and local government auctions information – one of them is THIS.

United Kingdom: Bumblebee and Wilsons Government Auctions

If you live in the U.K., there are many websites used by police to sell seized or lost and found items. One of them is Bumblebee Auctions (you can access it HERE), which acts effectively as a shop front the police force and local authorities, which can use to dispose of various types of property. It is an official police website used by multiple forces across the country. Users bid on items in the same way as they would on sites such as

Another good website is Wilsons Auctions, which you could access HERE.


Government of Canada Auction Websites

If you are looking for Canadian government auctions seized property, you can check out the GC Surplus page, which you can access HERE. You could find items that you may be interested in.

Australia: Pickles Government Auctions

One of the main auctions sites in Australia is Pickles. As funny as it sounds, the website does an excellent job at what it does. They focus mainly on vehicles, but occasionally you may find other great deals.


Government Surplus Auctions Scams: How To Report

Warn your family and friends about the Government Auctions Scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:

Report To The FTC Here


How To Protect Yourself More

If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You'll receive periodic emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

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