I've mentioned this before on my blog as this has happened to me before. But this scam is cropping up through American sellers now, not just Chinese ones - and there seems to be zero mention of this online -- so I felt the need to publish another post.
The scam is simple.
1.) You purchase item worth a decent amount of money
2.) Sellers ships item with tracking number to you
3.) You receive item that is a sticker or something cheap, worth pennies
4.) Seller claims "item arrived" because it had tracking
eBay will normally not favor you, the buyer, since the seller can prove they did ship something.
Especially if the seller is a "powerseller", seeing as they favor them as they net eBay tons of money. You won't even be able to leave negative on a powerseller right away because eBay protects them. You have to wait a certain amount of time.
If you buy something, be aware of the shape and size, even weight, of the package it arrives in. If the item seems off, too light of flat when it should be bulky, DO NOT OPEN IT. Your best bet is to take photos just as it is and then return for your money back, if possible - by showing pictures and trying to reason there is "no way" a ceramic figure would be mailed flat in a thin mailer for two stamps, for instance.
I might recommend a video if possible, of you opening the package if you feel you must. Show both your addresses and show that it is sealed in it, of course, before opening. Keep this handy when you file a claim.
We have to fight these disreputable pieces of shit, because if folks keep getting ripped off they'll just think they have it made. We can make them pay - and if worse comes to worse, remember to leave that negative feedback!