If you want one of Nvidia's new RTX 3080 graphics cards and weren't lucky enough to nab one right as they went on sale last week, you'll be waiting for a while. A lot of people missed the purchasing window thanks to the work of scalpers and bots, and at least one person says they've decided to get even. How? Use other bots against the scalpers on eBay.
Gizmodo reports that one disgruntled graphics card aficionado who decided to take matters into their own hands has come up with a way to undermine the work of scalpers, and they may not be alone in the fight. After being directed to a now-deleted post about the retaliation scheme on Nvidia's forums, Gizmodo's reporters got in touch with its author.
The post author described their method for using a repurposed eBay bidding bot. Their goal wasn't to win one of the scalpers' 3080 auctions, but to get them shut down. By providing fake info for 10 spoofed accounts and then letting the bots run amok, their hope is that eBay's fraud detection kicks in and the scalpers end up getting banned for price gouging a $699 graphics card up into the five-figure range (at the time of writing, this listing had a bid over $90,000).
Further analysis of 3080 auctions performed by Gizmodo suggest that more than one person has put these bidding bots to work, with likely bots sometimes volleying bids on the same auction listings in mere microseconds. At least one would-be 3080 scalper has been banned from eBay, though it's not certain whether bots led to the action against this person in particular. The person in question also claims to have received dozens of abusive messages after placing their listing live.
Threats and name-calling are a nasty turn of events for an exciting GPU launch to take, but as for those who used bots to snatch up 3080 cards just in the hopes of flipping them, seeing their efforts foiled by the same tech seems like fitting justice. It's not like eBay is the only place where a scalper can flip a graphics card, but getting banned at least makes things a bit harder to flip those things to, say, folks who just want to see nice ray tracing in Control and Fortnite.
There's also the chance that scalpers who employed bots may not receive their 3080s anyway. Last week, Nvidia promised that it would review suspicious orders to weed out bots and scalpers, and manufacturer EVGA has also committed to "hand reviewing" all orders placed for its line of 3080s.
Earlier this week, PlayStation apologized for a similar PS5 pre-order fiasco, and it sounds like today's pre-order openings for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S were similarly messy. If you tried to get any of these and came up empty handed, well, you're not alone, and the prevalence of ordering bots is partly to blame.