Tuesday, 6 July 2010

eBay seller fined in court for bidding against himself to rig online auctions

A CROOKED eBay seller who rigged his own auctions has been fined £3500 and given 250 hours community service.
Paul Barrett is the first person in Britain to land in court for putting goods on eBay then bidding on them himself to drive up their prices. He was also hit with a costs bill of nearly £1500.
Judge Peter Benson told the fraudster: "It is an obviously dishonest practice, whichever way one looks at it."
He added that Barrett's lack of a record for dishonesty had saved him from going to jail.
Married dad-of-one Barrett, 39, used eBay to sell lots including two Mercedes vehicles, a Land Rover, a pie and pasty warmer, three mobile phones and a digital camera.
Bradford Crown Court heard he had two eBay user names - "paulthebusman" and "shanconpaul". He would set up auctions using one name and bid in them using the other. If he ended up making the winning bid, he would leave feedback on the site praising himself. Harvey Murray, prosecuting, told the court that the pie and pasty warmer had been set to sell on eBay for £74. But Barrett placed five bids himself just before the sale closed and it eventually sold for £127.
Trading Standards began investigating Barrett after an eBay customer complained he had been sold a "clocked" minibus. The bus had been advertised with a mileage of 55,000 but had actually done 132,000.
Officers looked into Barrett's eBay deals and discovered the "shill" bidding. Both his user names were traced to the same computer.

The full story here

My Opinion
I just love this story, as you can see ebay has no involvement in catching the offender, who was ripping off those poor customers. The customers concerned did not even know that they had been ripped off, as ebay had done so much to hide the fact, possibly because it would interfere with what equates to a protection racket, where sellers have to buy their own goods using alias accounts to clean up their feedback as they struggle to live up to the unrealistic expectations of ebays feedback system. Which all means more money for ebay.

The ebay response
An eBay spokeswoman said the site used the latest technology to track down "shill" bidders. She added: "We are extremely pleased with Paul Barrett's sentence."
So no mention of why they did not catch this one then?and he was not using any of the things that others have said you need to get past ebays "brilliant security" LOL.

Shill bidding is a common part of ebay, along with other dubious practices  like attacking anyone that dares to compete or to use alias accounts to clean up the feedback. All ebay have ever done to stop it was to make it easier and to offer more encouragement to those sellers that are willing to pay the extra fees.

Take some advice and no matter if you are buyer or seller move to ebid.net and tell those that you buy from or sell to to do the same. Eventually ebay will get the message and go away to the tax collector in the sky.

Always wanting to end on a happy note. I know of several sellers that are using aliases to clean up their accounts attack other sellers and more than likely shill bid their customers and before there was nothing you could do about it, as we all know ebay did nothing about it when you did. But now you can hand that information over to Trading Standards http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ and let them deal with it.

I know you may feel you don't care about this, as you have moved on from ebay but you are wrong, as this is going to damage all online auction sales where ever you go, as looking at some of the responses on forums and other places over this matter, then people seemed to accept it as the norm, as if it were something we all knew was happening and accepted it. What happens to online sales if that spills outside of ebay and the buyers feel that is the norm?

One last point I thought was funny is that auctions on ebay were based on the same system as auctions in the UK with the buyer beware system, so that if you bought it then it was yours with no returns. Ebay removed that system and destroyed their auction business in doing so and now added the "buyer beware" term to the general use  of ebay. Beware of those sellers second accounts.

No comments: