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Home > Tips January 7th, 2015

Why Not to Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon Mkt

Some folks think it might be a good idea to try to save a few bucks and buy Adobe software off of eBay, Craigslist, Amazon Marketplace, or from any vendor who is unfamiliar.  It could be CS6, Photoshop, Lightroom, Acrobat, Elements, or any other item – in a retail, student, full or upgrade version… or sometimes it’s the “OEM” scam, or the “extra” volume/enterprise license swindle.

But it’s actually not a very good idea at all.  Why?

Why You Should Never Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon Marketplace

The first problem is that Adobe does not recognize these venues as valid or authorized resellers, they are fully disregarded.  So as a result, Adobe will not officially recognize any of those buyers as actually owning their software. Yes, you read that right.

Meaning, you think you own the genuine article but effectively you don’t. You can’t provide an accepted proof of purchase – so you can’t formally prove you own the products, can’t ever legally transfer the software to someone else, may not be able to get product support or upgrade to the next version, and so on…  You also aren’t able to return the software to get your money back from Adobe like you normally can.

Why doesn’t Adobe recognize the people that go through those places? Doesn’t that seem unfair? Can’t these software vendors who you’ve never heard of be trusted?

No, because in this area, reputation matters… a lot.  The simple reason is – and the real problem is – that 90% of the software sold on places like eBay is counterfeit! Yes, it’s true. And it’s not a new problem.

Adobe states, “Purchasing from known and trusted sources is the best way to avoid risks. Avoid all online auction sites — they’re rife with counterfeiters. The only safe way to purchase genuine software for download is through the Adobe Store.”

So you can be pretty sure that what someone’s getting on those auction and vendor sites is not legitimate, not able to be legally transferred, and possibly even quite unsafe.

Fake or Hacked Software –> Unsafe Computer, Loss of Money, Stolen Information, or Worse

That last part is the real kicker. A great deal of the hacked and pirated Adobe software out there now is embedded with malware. These infections include viruses, worms, and trojans that can do significant harm to your computer, personal data, and privacy (like quietly stealing your sensitive information such as logins, passwords, and credit card numbers). Or increasingly, hold your entire hard disk for ransom with no fix available.

Or put another way, you dramatically “increase your risk of exposure to viruses, spyware, or adware that can destroy (or, worse, publish to criminals) valuable data.”  But unfortunately, many people don’t learn about this until it’s too late.  Often they do this unknowingly – and are essentially paying someone to do it to them by buying the unauthorized software.

How prevalent is malware in illegal software? Well, just one example: China reportedly has a piracy rate of 79% – and a corresponding computer infection rate of nearly 70% – both are the highest in the world.

Yes, there can occasionally be exceptions – but there are many more headlines over the years: “Adobe Creative Suite Crack Harvests Zombie Computers”“Malware Writers Target Would-Be Pirated Software Users”“Rogue Adobe Product Downloads Infect Machines with Undetected Keylogger”“Bootlegged Mac Photoshop Delivers New Trojan Horses”

The second Trojan was discovered Sunday, hidden inside torrented copies of Adobe Systems’ Photoshop program. Once installed, the software silently lets someone else take remote control of the computer and the sensitive data upon it.

The risk seems obvious for older or used/secondhand copies, right?  But even advertised “new in box” (NIB) items in seemingly original packaging can easily be fake (see what the FBI says about this here) – and it’s often very difficult to tell the difference from the outside of the packaging, or even from the inside.  As Adobe says, “… it can come with sophisticated-looking cases, manuals, and even registration cards. You’ll only discover software is pirated when you try to register it and can’t, often rendering the software unusable.” Or worse.

But even if the software within is authentic, it’s still breaking the law. Per the SIIA, “As this prosecution demonstrates, it is both a crime to create counterfeit software and a crime to sell authentic software without authorization.”  So in any event, these buyers still face all the other issues above.

And if anyone ever offers a download or serial number that’s coming from anywhere else other than Adobe – it’s definitely not genuine, or legal.

The old advice applies here: anything that sounds too good to be true probably is, in pricing or otherwise… (note that Adobe’s true Student & Teacher Editions at up to 70% off including the $19 complete Creative Cloud are exceptions to this)

So what’s your best bet?

Ensure your Adobe software is genuine

The only safe and legal place to instantly download any of these products (either trial or full versions) is directly from Adobe’s servers.

And only safe and legal place to buy any boxed retail software is directly from Adobe itself, or through their officially authorized resellers or retailers.

They put all this in place to protect customers – not only from harmful or counterfeit software, but also protecting your rights as a legitimate buyer and recognized licensee of the products – fully able to receive customer service, technical support, important updates, and future upgrades.

See all the recommended tips on how to avoid Adobe piracy. And if the regular product prices are out of reach for you, see if you qualify for Adobe’s deeply-discounted education versions, or check out their affordable Creative Cloud offering including the successor to CS6 — the new CC 2014 release — which is guaranteed to be the genuine article.

See Also

Download New Adobe CC 2015 Free Trials (Direct Links)

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  1. Winston Smith

    @Winston Smith NOTE – just call E-Bay to remind them that their new “business model” is fracken EVIL

  2. Scott


    I’m sorry, but you have failed to reasonable respond to my comment with a compelling well reasoned argument. Let me make this simple.

    1) I have software purchased legitimately from Adobe. I decide to sell it on ebay. How or why is my software suddenly a hack or counterfeit?

    2) Adobe themselves have a process of ownership transfer for their software. If used software is not legitimate why does Adobe have this process in place?

    3) How many legitimate copies of software exist in the world today? When one of those owners no longer uses the software, does it suddenly become counterfeit? How? Why?

    4) There just aren’t that many pieces of used software for sale online to believe this is a huge problem affecting ALL used software. Yes, there may be counterfeits out there for sale. Does that mean ALL used software for sale is counterfeit? NO it doesn’t.

    5) Why would someone trying to infect millions of computers charge hundreds and thousands of dollars for software with viruses and trojan horses? How does the fee to get through that gate help them? That is a crazy rational. If you want access to many systems you don’t charge people hundreds of dollars for access to their system.

    What IS naive’ is your gross generalizations. If you have a SOUND argument, address each one of these numbered points specifically.

    Thank you!

    • No one ever said that absolutely every single copy on eBay was a fake, Scott, nor that there weren’t at least some legitimate products out there. That is again an overly simplistic (and ultimately pointless) argument.

      It comes down to odds. Not every chamber in the revolver has to have a bullet in it to make playing Russian Roulette a pretty hazardous idea… It’s because overwhelmingly (for all the reasons cited above) the player doesn’t know which one he will get – and the consequences of getting it wrong are bad. And statistically speaking, getting a bad draw on eBay is far, far more likely than in Russian Roulette.

      The bottom line is that swindlers have generated countless times more counterfeits than ever existed genuine versions from Adobe. As we’ve pointed out again and again, it’s cheap and the materials (if any!) are relatively simple to produce, and it has become too easy to part a sucker from his money online. Don’t be an easy mark.

      Finally, you’re way, way off base with your point on pricing. In addition to distributing malicious hacked software for free through torrents etc., scammers will also try to peddle bogus software for a price on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon Marketplace, etc. Why? Different market. Make it seem as realistic as possible. No one will believe a free (or $100) Photoshop on eBay, right? (hope you can see that) However, $499 is far more believable, and will get more traction from their victims dreaming of a “good deal” on a the real thing. So yes, the price is absolutely marked up to something credible on purpose, even if the product is fraudulent.

      Thanks for checking back and hope that makes more sense to you.

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