Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
It seems as we’re not alone in our concerns about the consumer fraud facilitated through online auction sites.
On February 14, 2000, the United States Deparment of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as other federal, state and local law enforcers announced a three-pronged effort to stem the fraud faced by Internet auction-goers.
Law enforcement authorities announced that they have taken more than 35 law enforcement actions already and have many more in the pipeline. Tips to the fraud, which involves non-delivery among other offenses, come from auction sites as well as consumers who have been conned.
“We know that with the dramatic expansion of e-commerce, Internet auction sites are experiencing amazing growth,” said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We also know that the number of complaints the FTC has received about Internet auctions is exploding — from 107 in 1997 to 10,700 in 1999. We want Internet auction users and the online auction industry to know that the e-con artists who capitalize on them are ‘going, going, gone’. We don’t intend to let a handful of rogues erode consumer confidence in Internet commerce or Internet auctions,” Bernstein said.
“The Internet has created tremendous opportunities for communications and commercial transactions; unfortunately, it has also created new opportunities for cyber rip-off artists intent on ensnaring victims in the World Wide Web,” said Assistant United States Attorney Christopher M. E. Painter, the Computer Crimes Coordinator in Los Angeles. “Consumers who use the virtual world to exchange information and to purchase goods should expect the same protections offered in their hometowns. The Department of Justice is committed to working with all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to aggressively fight computer crime.”
With such tremendous initiative, we have no doubt that scammed buyers will now have more clout when they seek to go against scamming sellers. Just this past week, a go2mac.com reader posted his ordeal with a dishonest seller:
- “I got ripped-off to the tune of $1100. Someone was supposedly selling a Lombard PB G3 333mHz. I bid on it and sent of my first payment of $1100. After weeks of not hearing from the seller, finding out all info given to eBay was invalid, and having to contact the police, I finally got a package from the seller–a Powerbook 145B.”
Kudos to federal and state authorities for stating that they will throw their weight behind buyers who might otherwise have little recourse. We’ll report on interesting cases as they happen. In the meantime, make sure you stay wary of anybody offering you any deal that’s too good to be true!