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

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


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329 thoughts on “Why Not to Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon Mkt”

    • Correct Heather – and in fact, those are the only two Online Retailers that are authorized by Adobe!

      All others are expressly unauthorized – including eBay, Craigslist, and countless others.

      Note however that any/all Marketplace or third-party vendors on Amazon or are not recognized or authorized by Adobe… and that’s what this article is about.

      Finally, expect the number of authorized retailers to soon decrease further when Adobe discontinues the boxed versions of Creative Suite.

  1. Given Adobe charge up to $1200 more for their products in Australia than they do in other countries I’m assuming they want us to get it from someone other than themselves. If their pricing was reasonable, they wouldn’t have to worry about people getting their stuff elsewhere.

  2. I’m not sure that reasoning covers such a massive difference, but it’s nicer than saying “We charge more because we think they can afford it”. :-)

  3. It’s called “pricing to market.” Despite their attempt to explain it away, they’re gouging. It doesn’t cost any more to download a copy of Photoshop to Australia, and the offshored technical support is paid the same regardless of the customer.

  4. Yes, I did. I’m not convinced that explains all the difference.

    It doesn’t cost Adobe any more when someone downloads a copy of Photoshop to Australia. And the support is offshored to India, and therefore that doesn’t cost any more, either.

    • OK Bobby, you just repeated the same two things, and there were more than a dozen other contributing factors cited there regarding price. But everyone’s entitled to their opinion of course.

      In any event, the debate will not be settled here as there is no way for any of us to know what the exact “right” price is to set that takes into account the actual expenses and costs of doing business in overseas markets – which in any event change every day with fluctuating exchange rates to the USD.

  5. Things are certainly changing with the Creative Cloud but this sounds like a lot of scare tactics concerning the previous versions. I’ve been an Adobe user for a long time and I’ve always bought my copies on Ebay. I never buy the ridiculously cheap, no-box versions that are obvious pirates. But retail boxed copies have never been a problem for me. Many smart small firm operators save lots of overhead shopping this way.

    The good news is, Adobe’s Microsoft-style approach to business these days is driving some awesome developments in the open source community. Stay on the lookout for much more solid offerings from Adobe’s more nimble competi­tion.

    • David, it’s simply not smart – especially for a business! The fakes have gotten deceptively real-looking lately… Honestly, can you tell the difference between these two boxes? (Hint, one is genuine and the other is bogus – but nearly all buyers won’t realize until it’s too late)

      Besides, the plain truth is that Adobe clearly states that eBay etc is not a valid proof of purchase – meaning that in their eyes, you don’t actually own the software (even if legit)! And not having valid proof of ownership would impact registration, accountability, returns, support, upgrades, and so on.

      Of course, there’s also the significant risk of putting malware on your machine when getting software from unauthorized sources, as described above. It’s just unwise to risk these types of channels in an effort to try to save a few bucks.

  6. well I was planning to buy Lightroom 5 and came across this site. Frankly does not look that legit, but again they are partners with bunch of top brands.

    « link removed »

    • COMPLETELY fraudulent. They are partners with nobody, it’s just what they say. One dead giveaway is their domain name registration is hidden and masked, so likely overseas somewhere.

      Another confirmation is when you google their “physical” contact mailing address, it’s a box at some UPS Store in a random U.S. town.

      What’s more, the prices they lure you in with are simply “too good to be true” – nowhere legitimate can you buy Adobe products for that low.

      The final clue is they offer downloads of the software – which ONLY Adobe can do; all others are false. So it’s a ripoff site and don’t fall for it if you value your credit card and identity.

      There are endless horror stories about websites like those… here’s one… and another.

      As mentioned in the article above, NEVER buy from any site or seller you’ve never heard of. That includes eBay et al. because they are all no-name vendors. It’s really as simple as that!

  7. Thanks for the headsup, unfortunately I am neither student nor teacher. Lightroom 4 price did come down a bit after some time so probably give it around 4/5 months and see where it goes.

  8. I bought Adobe CS6 through an eBay seller called « name removed » and very curiously the download they sold me is accessed through your site:

    I was in a rush to buy the program – I actually thought I was buying a hard copy – and did not think through what I was buying. Now after doing some research, that I should have done before buying the download, I see the article on your site about the dangers of buying software from eBay. If your company does not recommend buying software from eBay, why does this seller use your site for his downloads?

    I’m alarmed about what I might have bought after reading your article. Can you give me some advice: Do you know this seller? Have I been scammed in some way?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Yes, if you were sold just a purported serial number from a vendor you’ve never heard of before then you were definitely scammed – and what you bought unfortunately is bogus…

      We have absolutely no connection with that seller and the reason they must use our site for software downloads is because we offer direct links to all the CS6 free trials via that URL. But no question the solitary “license key” they sold you is fake because only Adobe and their officially authorized resellers can do that.

      Hope you have some chance of getting your money back, but don’t count on it – sorry!

    • Michael, based on what you described it’s for sure a bogus copy and an all-too-common scam – you can confirm that with Adobe directly.

      If you have any chance of getting your money back, we’d strongly recommend it… Also uninstall the software and scan your computer very thoroughly with multiple high-quality antivirus tools.

  9. I read your article and am a little disappointed. There are very clear distinctions on both many websites product description as well as on the EULA (End User License Agreement) provided by both office and I believe adobe too.

    But the reselling of product keys is perfectly legitimate.

    The selling of software is illegal. No one but Adobe or Microsoft own their software. When you purchase it online or even in most stores now, you are purchasing the license to use their software. Licenses can go through many hands before the final activation process occurs.

    In addition the EULA specifically states software sold online does not have a certificate of authenticity, thus even when you purchase through adobe or Microsoft there will be no certificate, but they aren’t selling pirated software…

    Many of these people will in fact provide you with the product key before you pay and once activated properly they will put in an invoice through paypal which is of course secure.

    As far as viruses and malware goes, yes some of these sites do have scams and malware attached to the files. However, the majority of sites all give direct links to download the software through the manufacturer or developer. They provide the link as an act of goodwill (as they are not selling the software) as well as provide an email with the product key (this is what they sell).

    Please it would be helpful to get the specific details correct & understand the legalities properly rather than misleading many people who are not familiar with the legal process of online software.

    • Incredible Joshua – in over four years of running this site, that is one of the most regrettably misinformed comments we have seen… And we probably shouldn’t even publish it, but will do so only as an example of how far beliefs can go wrong.

      The simple and plain fact of the matter is there are only a very select handful of sites that are legally and legitimately allowed to sell/send you Adobe software serial numbers or license keys by themselves – and they are only big company names you’ve heard of like Adobe themselves or Amazon.

      The truth is that any other site with a name you are not familiar with is definitely a scam. This is also true for any vendor who tries to sell this way through eBay or Craigslist.

      There is no doubt about this. A no-name site cannot legally sell you a license key and then point you to a direct download link or a trial. What they do instead is use a hacked keygen to make a bogus serial number that they then try to hawk to gullible buyers.

      By contrast, the authorized resellers are the large and established brand-name companies who have contracts with Adobe as well as their own servers for supplying and delivering the products.

      Adobe explicitly says that all others are not valid, very plainly:

      “Invalid proof of purchase: … a download that was not purchased from the Adobe Online Store.”

      So, there you go – straight from the horse’s mouth.

      But it’s unfortunate this rip-off has become so prevalent that a reader might come here actually believing it to be genuine or authentic!

      If you ever have any question, then just post back here the name of the site(s) in question – and we will confirm this for you specifically.

      Or easily do it yourself – check the vendor against Adobe’s list of authorized resellers, and avoid all others because (as just quoted) Adobe will not recognize the purchase as valid!

  10. Hi,

    Thank you for your reply. I believe the key difference here is the selling or reselling of product keys. On your comment above, can you please specify which you are talking about. It is like saying if I find some Nike shoes in an outlet are on a clearance sale and I get 50 pairs for an incredible price. I then come to the knowledge that another state or country has no such outlet. I then decide to resell them there. I sell for a bit cheaper than rrp but still making a profit. This is legal unless the items came with a not for resale. Now you can only buy them from a Nike distributor but you can buy ones that others have already purchased.

    There was an article in the uk news a while back about a business that made a killing reselling volume license from Microsoft software. Microsoft of course did not like this and many people including Microsoft employees especially stated it was illegal to resell. As you say, no doubt about it then? wrong. This business was within full rights and legal. In the end they are still running and Microsoft who couldn’t beat them are now working with them.

    Of course every manufacturer wants to control the distribution of their software. However once it is out there it is much harder to legal hold onto that control. Most if not all have loopholes in their agreements that allow resale. In addition there are state laws that allow the consumer certain rights (I’m not familiar with them in other countries).

    As far as terms for resale. I could go into detail about how it is generally possible even when the company try to limit it. It is complicated but those willing to look into the woodwork will understand this. So much so that it will actually open ones eyes to how things work online. It did for me

    Finally in response to the subscription that Adobe and Microsoft have recently changed to. I am not as familiar with that so cannot respond however I do know older versions are all in circulation amongst the public.

    • Don’t be deceived Joshua. We’ve seen it too many times; the kinds of operations you are talking about are not selling or reselling valid or existing serial numbers… These are not physical products and there is nothing like an established “used” outlet or discount clearinghouse for Adobe software licenses, it does not exist.

      Put plainly, what you are talking about is actually peddling fake license keys that the scammers hope to pawn off on naïve or unsuspecting buyers who think they’re getting a “deal.” In other words, those keys are counterfeits – they are not the real thing and do not come from Adobe. That’s why they tell you to download the software from elsewhere.

      It’s really as simple as that. And it’s not valid or legit or recognized, per what we posted from Adobe in the previous reply.

      Transferring licenses directly between two individuals may be allowed under some circumstances, but don’t confuse that with the kind of thing you are alluding to.

      Finally, another common ruse is con artists saying that they have an Adobe volume license and they have “extra” serial numbers they don’t need or use and are willing to sell to you for a cheap price… Again, totally bogus – all Adobe volume or corporate licensees always have a single serial key for all licensed users (not multiple SN’s) – so don’t fall for that one either!

  11. Your first three paragraphs aren’t really saying anything except repeating that these licenses are not valid and are fakes. My use of tangible products and outlet was only a metaphor for how the process can occur. You yourself have said that there are large differences in the price of adobe from country to country! Please don’t contradict yourself, or hide certain facts. It does not bode well for the weight of your arguments.

    In addition to not having much weight to your argument I also noticed there were a number of keys points that were not even mentioned by yourself that I had brought under question. When you say don’t be deceived I feel it very much the case that certain large corporations, more so than some of these small online businesses, are trying to deceive the public and cover up loopholes purely to aid their own control and profit. Which I believe is dishonest, unethical and immoral. I do understand that there are many in these companies who are upright, ethical and moral and do honestly believe what they are told.

    I’m a little confused, as once the licenses are provided, when the manufacturer is contacted regarding if they are genuine or not, they confirm the licenses are fully authentic and will activate with no problems. In addition, the software links provided are often from the manufacturer’s own website and often through an actual account which provides links to download the software as keys are purchased. Therefore how can you honestly say they are not selling valid or existing licenses…? Also something to keep in mind is prices do vary from country to country.

    Again your comment on transferring licenses is agreeing with my point above, but then saying that’s not what I’m talking about… Simply… It is.

    First off, it is not necessarily what the agreement states, but more what it does not state. Secondly, the license agreement varies from region/country to country. Then you go into details as to once the license leaves the ‘person who signed it’ how do they then apply. For example if I was to resell an iPhone I am not under an agreement that was signed by the original owner unless that agreement is resigned and transferred to myself etc. Following on from this one must then understand what the agreement is for. i.e. is it similar to a warranty where if you void the warranty you still own the product or license but do not get support. or is it like a copyright agreement where you are legally bound to use the product in certain ways. If it is similar to that of copyright, then one must understand about if the license is about the actual use of the software rather than the ownership titles. To follow that up there is a difference between the transfer of the license (which is permissible in both retail and volume licenses) and the reselling of the actual software (which is illegal as it breaches copyright). Once that is the case one must look at the laws within the country or state. i.e. Consumer rights and first sale rights just to name a couple. And these do actually (I believe) take trumps over any license by an individual developer or manufacturer. For example, if I buy ten iPhones brand new at an amazing sale, and I then find out the sale is finished, I can then resell my unopened brand new iphones online without breaking any copyright. Or I can find a country where they are much more expensive (exactly what an importer does). The only catch would be if in purchasing at the sale, there is a clause in the agreement that prohibits profit being made or the resale of such items, etc.

    Your last paragraph is interesting information. I am not familiar with how adobe do their volume licensing. I do know however that many other software companies have multiple options for volume licensing, one being your mentioned one single key, but others involve many other license keys. However, as you have said, all Adobe volume licensees always have a single serial key for all users. Thus I assume there is no such alternate options like other manufacturers offer for different business needs.

    As to posting the sites I am referring to in these comments. I do not have confidence that you will not treat them as you have treated me. Simply telling me I am not talking about this or that, but talking about fake keys only and therefore am either deceived or am a fake myself. With this lack of confidence I apologize but do not feel it fair to bring a business potentially in disrepute merely to further this discussion. Many of these sites, however, are very easily accessible and can be found within approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute of searching online. So I leave it up to your expertise to filter out the fake sites, which do exist, but also I urge you to not push Adobe’s gender at the sake of destroying small businesses reputation.

    To finish up with this comment, might I also please know the name and position of the person I have been discoursing with. Thank you.

    • Okay Joshua, we don’t have anything further to add. Obviously everyone has a right to their own views and interpretations. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck to you.

  12. I know someone who got burned by this. A friend of mine was trying to save some money and bought creative suite from a website that was selling licenses. Adobe originally accepted the serial number when she registered it. 9 months later, when she wanted to upgrade the program, adobe told her it was a pirate copy and it was invalidated. At that point it was too late for her to do anything or try to get her money back, and the website didn’t even exist any more. Adobe was useless and said they couldn’t help her because she bought from someplace that wasn’t authorized so never actually owned the programs. Basically she was totally screwed and out 1000$ with nothing to show for it. The worst part is she also started getting foreign charges on her creditcard and had another huge mess with that!!!

  13. Fascinating that this discussion is still going.

    By the way, I eventually sold my valid, extra, never-before-installed, extended version of the expensive Adobe software, which I have mentioned in previous posts, via eBay; however, the software went for about 1/5 of the retail price.

    I received a 5-star feedback from the purchaser because she found that the software and registration keys were valid and legal.

    It was nice to have sold the extra software, but the price was disappointing.

    To Joshua:

    You use metaphors and similes to illustrate your points, but I would like to see the facts:

    (1) you talk about portions of a EULA; can you provide a quote with references to the portion(s) of the EULAs to which you have referred?

    (2) you also talk about lack of wording in the EULAs; to what specific words/phrases are you referring to as missing? What wording would you include in a EULA that would result in what the author of this article has concluded?

    (3) you mention Consumer rights and first-sale rights; can you provide a link to the specific statutes/codes/regulations which are in your jurisdiction and to which you refer in your previous posts?

    Please know that I am not trying to contend with anyone nor am I trying to prove anyone’s statements to be true or false; rather, if everyone can get access to the sources of such information, we can all become more intelligent consumers.


  14. @edsager
    Hi edsager,

    I do apologize for not responding earlier as I was not aware of your comment until now when I came only to refer my above comments for someone else’s benefit. I will try and provide as much as I can of current facts, although some of it I may not have kept when I did my research.

    1) This is an extract from a battle with PayPal which I won in regards to a very similar issue. It has been a while now so I cannot recall everything I researched in regards to this battle but I hope this extract is helpful.

    Q. Please provide Microsoft authenticity documentation or authorization from Microsoft to sell these product keys through the website

    According to the ‘SAM Brief Proof of License for Microsoft Software’ Document states two things.

    Firstly, under Proof of Purchase heading “Typically with ESD (Electronic Software Distribution) Licenses, the proof of purchase comes in an email from the company that sold the software from the website.” I have such emails and have attached a PDF of one such email from the company (and Website) I purchased the Product Keys off. In addition, the product key is not the software as it is just an upgrade/unlocking to be used on the full software (already installed) on the device. I believe I clearly state on the website that I am just selling the product key (and not the software as a package).

    Second, under FaQ at the bottom of the document there is a question ‘Where can I find the COA?’ the third dot point states “For volume licensing and Electronic Software Distribution there is no COA.”

    I am not trying to quote the legal terms to you as I’m sure you are aware of them all much more comprehensively than I am. I mention these two points as I feel it would be helpful for you if I stated in writing the reason behind why I am unable to provide a COA as I was never provided with one nor can I be provided with one.

    In regards to EULA:

    open a license for example, office home and business 2010. and in section 20 it shows a transfer of license is allowed, however this is once the license has been activated, there is nothing saying prior to activation you may or may not transfer the product key, which you can give it to whoever you want really and if they provide you with the money for it then you can call it a resale but no transfer has occurred. This is just an example of how it is not addressed properly enough for Microsoft to state copyright has been breached in the resale of an unused license.

    2) In regards to the lack of wording, this is just a quick example I found on the microsoft website. You will notice that there is no mention of the resale of the license, and since transfer of license is legal, it can be assumed that you can seek ‘reimbursement’ for your cost and passing on the value – license to use the software’.

    In addition, there is no mention of transfer or sale of a license PRIOR to activation as mentioned under my first point.

    3) I cannot right now provide you with a specific link as that would take a great deal of searching and sifting through documentation which I cannot remember the exact location. I would suggest you talk to a lawyer or someone from the consumer affairs in relation to your rights over a product that you purchase. A lawyer might cost a pretty penny though.

    I do understand that this is a VERY confusing and complex topic for the average consumer and I do not attempt to say I have my head around the lot of it. There is much I am still discovering through my research. However, I do know big corporations like to imply they have as much control as possible over their products which makes sense from a profit base, but not from an ethical base. In reality, they do not own everything and they will try and tell us how to do things with their ‘powerful me’ influence.

    The moral of this article is true though, that is, there are MANY scammers out there and it is easy to lose money. But there are also honest people, like myself who just see an opportunity and try to take expand it. Eyes wide open are needed when looking at this issue from both directions.

    You are the exact thing I am trying to get ‘ProDesign’ (since they will not provide a name although I asked and they are obliged to provide) address. This sort of article is making it very difficult for people like yourself to sell your extra licenses. Just Imagine someone who is finding hundreds of people like you and buying all these licenses for 1/5 RRP, they then set up a website and sell them at 2/5 RRP with 100% profit, they are selling licenses dirt cheap and ‘amazingly’ perfectly legal and valid ones too!

    See how simple it is…

    All the best and congrats on your sale!

  15. This happened to me. The past two months I have spent trying to piece my credit and identity back together again after my system got infected from a trojan I picked up in a copy of Photoshop I bought in an online auction.

    The trojan logged my passwords and also scanned my hard drive with my tax files and SSN being compromised. I can’t tell you, it has been a total absolute nightmare, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Never again.

  16. Why would any one, these days, buy adobe software from ebay-amazon-craigslist – since adobe no longer sell upgrades versions of its software, since ~2012 or so, when adobe sold upgrade versions of cs6 for cs5 owners.

    July 2013, Adobe switched to the cloud policies and full versions – no upgrade pricing, for all its software.

    Not like in 2000, when one brought an unregistered adobe photoshop 5.5 from ebay (before the flood of fakes), registered it with adobe, brought upgrades photoshop 6, 7, cs, cs2, cs3, cs4, cs5, cs6 at upgrade prices. In July 2013, Adobe stopped this.

    • Yes, good point Marty – but even today there are still some scam artists trying to flog bogus “full” copies of CS6, CS5, etc on eBay…

      So for non-upgraders considering buying an old (non-CC) version, it still can be a danger.

      Also, you may not have realized it, but Adobe does still sell upgrade versions… Yes, it’s true – even today it is still possible to buy an upgrade to CS6 (for any product) from either CS5 or CS5.5, so long as you get it via Adobe direct (not sold anywhere else).

      Full versions of CS6 are also still available as well, same way.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  17. If ebay, craiglist, amazon marketplace etc are selling fake softwares, then why doesn’t Adobe take legal actions against them. Those are very well-known sites and people often visit and purchase various products from their sites, it is unlikely for most to not trust those sites even if they sell non-authenticated products.

    • Well, they absolutely do take action (and we’ve seen it happen), but it’s a continual ongoing effort against the individual scammers and con artists… In fact, Adobe has an entire team devoted to fraud and anti-piracy – so if you see or were affected by a ripoff sale or malware infection then please report it here to them.

      Note there are other organizations involved as well – for example, you can earn a reward of up to $1,000,000 for reporting software piracy to the SIIA.

      So yes, there are always actions taking place.

  18. I tried to report a scammer to Adobe’s anti-piracy unit, and they expected me to mail them the counterfeit product.

    I got a refund via Paypal and sent it back to the scammer.

  19. I know that is an old thread, but I recently purchased a product and installed the software. Called Adobe and it turns out it is an Adobe Licensing product. Do you have any suggestions on what I should do next? I am going to return the product. Is there anything else?

    • Yes – cross your fingers. Get at least two of the best anti-malware/spyware programs you can find and scan your computer as thoroughly as possible for hidden trojans and keyloggers… It’s not 100% perfect but it’s the best you can do short of completely wiping your hard disk and reinstalling your operating system. Also pray for a chance to possibly get any of your money back from the scammer.

      Finally, thanks for posting here as the “extra Adobe volume license / unused seat” is an old con – and your comment hopefully helps no one else to fall for it.

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