Pay with PayPal using a credit card as the funding source. If the eBay/PayPal system does not solve a dispute/claim in your favor, you have your own credit card protections to fall back on for help.
Insist on signature delivery confirmation for high dollar items. Priority/insured or certified/ insured mail should get that done. It is hard to fake a UPS or FedEx itinerary or USPS itinerary for that matter.
I'm not sure how in the scam where fake USPS numbers are generated how the perpetrators generate the correct itinerary for that package. The USPS has an internal itinerary like you see for UPS and FedEx on packages that have delivery confirmation (that is to say: a package that would have a number associated with the package that would be proof to the eBay/PayPal systems that the item was delivered can be tracked by your local postmaster in the USPS system). It is on the post office computer system. You can't fake that from outside. You would need commission of a federal crime internally at the postal system to fake proof of delivery supported by a correct itinerary. And the lack of that in formation in the USPS computer system with a statement from your local Post Master should prove that you never received delivery.
eBay and PayPal protections have gotten poorer and favor the seller in a dispute. eBay does not consider the crime of omission of information a legitimate complaint against a Seller. The Buyer can prevail that situation, but you must be prepared to take them kicking and screaming to the conclusion to refund your money and undo the deal. Your credit card company
is much less tolerant of such shenanigans.
Sellers claim to "not be experts" and say, "so ask questions and look closely at the pictures" especially when they know they are selling something that is damaged goods. BEWARE THESE CLUES. Also, the word "Mint" is a red flag as are "wonderful", "marvelous", and "excellent" when associated with a condition of "used" and "As is no returns" or "No Returns". Good people stand behind the things they sell, bad people don't stand behind anything.
Or you can resort to this: "Are there any: cracks, chips, crushed areas, guides missing, scrapes, scratches cuts, non matching wraps, reel seat damage, cork damage, are the ferrules tight on the rod sections, is then ferrule fit tight, are the two rod sections the same length, has anything been added to the rod, is there anything else I should know about this rod before bidding that might discourage me from owning this rod?" (reel, jacket or whatever) To which you will probably receive the "I am not an expert." defense.
Do not pay with MO or Bank checks. Pay with PayPal or a credit card and preferably with PayPal using a credit card as the funding source.. Once the cash instrument is gone into the mail you have no control of the money. Even if you can prove the person got the money what do you do when they have sold you the junk you get delivered and they refuse to take it back?
Personal checks allow some control but you will need to start proceedings against the check if the seller stops communicating especially no tracking numbers and or the package doesn't make it to you in a reasonably short time. Stop payment will cost you $25 + and you might need to do that not knowing for sure if there is really a problem, but if you wait until you are certain it will be too late to recover.
Better off using PayPal with a credit card as the funding source. There is much more leeway to allow things to work out while still being able to recover if they don't.
IMPORTANT! If you have not received your item or if you have not had your claim settled by the time the credit card bill that contains the charge for the disputed item is due....then dispute the charge with the credit card company.
Document everything from the moment you think there might be a problem, and get copies of all emails you send to eBay, PayPal or the seller. In the eBay system email you send can be copied to your email address by checking the little box near where the anti-computer-bot number trap appears.
Sellers like buyers have to start somewhere. Just because the person hasn't had a pile of sales doesn't on the face of it mean that they are no good. If you are protected as I've suggested, you will probably get a heck of a deal that others are afraid of.
How to keep PayPal out of the bank account? ......that needs to be a PM.