I've had the same experience since Sam. I've bought and sold a ton of stuff online from the early 1990s on. I don't have an accurate total, but easily $10K of stuff over the years.
Gone through the progression of BBSes, mailing lists, web forums, and eBay. I've had a few close calls, but in the end they were made right. In one case, I had to sent an eBay item back for a refund because it was not as described. It took ages to get a refund, and I was fuming. Turned out, his house had burned down. After more delays, I looked into it- found a newspaper article about the fire. In the end, I got a full refund, and I felt like an ass for all the huffing and puffing I did.
It's all a matter of due diligence and patience. If you don't let greed drive you, it's pretty easy to steer clear of frauds and imitations. Some buyers and sellers will fall short of your expectations, but the people I've dealt with have been overwhelmingly honest.