If he's clever enough then you wouldn't know. If you don't trust the guy then employ a professional, who has got more to lose.
When you say "he will be installing his own software", do make sure that he installs a paid-for, legitimate edition of whatever Operating System you choose and of any applications. You should receive a boxed copy of the OS from him, complete with DVD and Certificate of Authenticity, if it is Windows. Otherwise you are just asking for trouble. If he buys any software for you online insist on proper receipts to prove that the software is not pirated.
He says he has multiple license software, like Windows 7 Ultimate and/or Pro, Office 2011, and all Adobe software Creative Suites and Photoshop CS5 or CS6, etc.
I asked if they were legitimate and not pirated so of course he said they are legit. So how would I know if I'm not technical at all?
So he could easily install spyware and gain remote access to my PC if he does the entire software installation, right? Even if I was right there while he installed software, I wouldn't know what was on those disks.
I can't afford a "professional" so am I better off just buying a pre-built off the shelf PC and not dealing with custom builds from people on craigslist or ebay?
Yeah, you don't want to have anything to do with this guy. He's installing pirated software, and if he's willing to do that, it's not too much of a leap to think he might throw something else on there.
It would be a couple million dollars to get a legitimate volume license for all of that software, and then even if we assume he does have a legit volume license, you can't just go reselling it like that.
You should actually report this guy to an outfit like the BSA (Business Software Alliance) because he gives legitimate computer builders a bad name. Sometimes the BSA even pays out a bounty/reward, so while I wouldn't recommend counting on it, you might get a small little contribution to a college beer fund a few months down the road.
And just in general, you should NEVER buy a custom built computer with software on ebay or craigslist, ESPECIALLY if you're not technically inclined. There are far too many people like this guy who will screw you over by installing pirated copies of software that will come back to bite YOU in the arse later.
So just to recap quickly: DO NOT buy a computer from this person!
Looking at a sample listing, the seller claims he's loading OEM versions of software, which would reduce the price a little, but just run a search on ebay for Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection and most of the listings are for more than the $800 this guy is asking for for this sample unit:
The only way I could see this working is if he's loading the subscription based form of the software on there, and you're expected to keep up with the monthly payments to use the software. Otherwise, we're talking about the "fell off the back of a truck" discount. This is just way too good a deal to possibly be true.
I'd ask the guy if he has a reseller license for Microsoft and Adobe, and then to get his license number. Ask him how he can sell software that retails for the better part of $3K on a computer for only $700. Just start asking a lot of very specific questions, and my guess is he will either never respond, become evasive about his answers, or become hostile. Any of those would be giant flashing neon warning signs to run away as fast as you can. Every way I look at this, too many things do not seem to add up, and I would not feel comfortable recommending anyone I know buy this computer.
Here's his reply to whether or not he has a license for Adobe or Microsoft software:
As for whether or not I'm a trustworthy dealer, if 100% feedback and a top seller ranking (just check out the stringent requirements to be a top seller) don't convince you, why would you believe anything I had to say? I'm sure if you asked every crooked seller on ebay if they were honest, they would tell you they were. That is why ebay developed the whole feedback system. "never ask a liar if they are a liar". I don't get licenses directly from Adobe, I get them from corporations who buy bulk licenses. All I can say is you will get exactly what I describe in the listing, and if you have any problems we stand behind our product 100%.
So he's being evasive and hostile. While there have been some court cases affirming the right to resell software, it has generally only been in the form of individual licenses. Volume licenses will generally have a clause in the contract to the effect of how it can only be used for systems owned and used by this particular organization. Microsoft, Adobe, and anyone else you can name basically doesn't want someone paying say $10K for an unlimited user license, then turning around and selling copies of their software for $10/seat when Microsoft might sell Windows for $150/seat.
So while the software might pass activation scans, and all that, it would still technically be pirated because A) the company did not have the right to resell this software if it is a "bulk" license, and so B) this guy does not have the right to resell the software because of A.
The price of the unit as a computer isn't unreasonable, but when you factor in the software... That is where you'd get into trouble. I'd be quite interested to see what a Microsoft or Adobe official would have to say about this. If I had any contacts within either company, I'd see what I could arrange, but alas I do not. My guess would be that they would take issue with this guy's statement, and very shortly after the guy's auctions would mysteriously disappear from eBay.
The choice is up to you ultimately, but this just does not seem on the up and up to me.
So the software is PIRATED and/or illegal copies? That he has no right to resell?
Wow, anyone can buy a $50 pirated bootleg copy of Photoshop CS5 or CS6 Master Collection on craigslist and I have NOT done so and don't want the hassle.
None of this software can be upgraded or reinstalled, I assume, if the PC crashes so what good is it anyway?
THANKS all of you for helping out a newbie non-techie.
You will know if they are fake because even pirated copies attempt to "update" and if you update a pirated copy it gets shut down. I learned that the hard way working as a security technician in countries that ONLY use pirated copies. They even have pirated Norton anti-virus which works like normal until you press "update". It is so easy to install a keylogger now though that you don't even need access. I tested the cheapest keylogger they had at[link removed]and installed remotely as a PDF. Even with two anti-virus app's running, I was not able to detect it. I also tested e-blaster and it did the same. But as far as pirated copies, you'll know it very shortly, cause you can stop a program from "calling home", but that also means it can't be updated.