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Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu May 17 2012 22:30:48

eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
Friday's EcommerceBytes newsletter includes a news story about high-profile eBay drop-off store owner Corri McFadden who was accused of shill bidding on eBay by a poster on the PurseBlog.com discussion boards.

McFadden's company, eDrop-Off Chicago LLC sued both the poster and PurseBlog.com. Twice, first on Thursday and then on Friday.

It filed the first lawsuit in California where the courts have a generous anti-SLAPP law, the second the next day in Illinois where its anti-SLAPP law is viewed more narrowly.

McFadden is an interesting person - she has been profiled by eBay on several occasions and now appears on her own TV reality show about her eBay consignment business.

If the defendants make it to trial and have the resources to defend themselves fully, I imagine they will try to show that the seller was indeed shill bidding - it will be interesting to see what records eBay will surrender about the bidding activity on eDrop-Off's auctions.

One of the most interested aspects of the case is a letter McFadden's account manager wrote testifying that eBay had investigated her account and found that she does not engage in shill bidding - "we at eBay have thoroughly investigated the eDropoff account and currently have no reason to believe that a Shill Bidding violation has taken place."

It's unusual for eBay to vouch for a seller's reputation!

eDrop-off also wrote in its Illinois lawsuit that it believed the defendant, "BeenBurned," previously operated under the handle of "bargainprincess" and has "self-styled herself as a scambuster and detective of auctions on eBay. Plaintiffs are informed and believe that due to her unauthorized attacks on, and cyberbullying of, legitimate Internet companies, BeenBurned has been banned from eBay and her account was involuntarily deactivated some time ago." (I'm curious who informed McFadden of BeenBurned's alleged history and alleged ban from eBay.)

Can you tell without a doubt if a seller is engaged in shill bidding? Or is accusing someone of shill bidding on public discussion boards "cyberbullying"? Let us know what you think!

Update: See Judge Grants Restraining Order against eBay Sellers Critic



Comments (126) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: blaumann This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 17 23:34:18 2012
WELL, If ebay says she is wonderful, she must be. Ebay is a GREAT investigator and would NEVER be prejudiced towards a big seller....
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: Steve This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Fri May 18 00:14:11 2012
Maybe she has a pic of Donuthole running through the backwoods bare...
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
       
Fri May 18 01:02:54 2012
As far I can tell you. eBay doesn't care about shill bidders.

I have an experience with a shill bidder. The only difference was that the shill bidding technique was reach your bid limit, then contact you that the other buyer quits to cancel it in your favor, but surprise he only erase the last bid that pass over your bid. It didn't smell right. I began to check and the anonymous thing isn't so anonymous. Big mistake from these shill bidders was that he leave a feedback for himself. You can match them with feedback points and the letters. Because the ''anonymous'' system in eBay doesn't use any random letter. It actually use the random letters from your nickname.

In my case I checked other feedback and found in other items the same buyer making bids. Contrary to the seller accused that only sell the same type of items. The one I found sold different items in different categories. It makes less impossible and not realistic have a buyer bidding in everything. And the last confirmation was that I saw the shill bidding ID feedback had sold items. Both IDs were from the same state and technically neighbors.

My recommendation to anyone in these mess. It is make folder of print screens. As far I can tell you in some months these auctions will not be more available to see and check the details.

Also these remind me when the guys with more money/power like to use it to scare people or silence them forever. It remember me a true story that I hear about a guy that menace to sue anyone that doesn't like his product or doesn't support it.  
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: DR Scarlett This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 01:10:14 2012
While I have absolutely no idea of why an eBay representative would defend a seller, since shilling is not only an eBay rule violation it is also a criminal act under the laws of most states.  To openly accuse someone of engaging in criminal activity in a published media such as a blog or forum could very well be, in my opinion, a libelous act.  Frankly, I think Ms McFadden's company has every right seek legal redress.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless
       
Fri May 18 03:55:45 2012
Ebafia looking the other way at shill bidding? Surely this Silicon Valley pillar of high business ethics and impeccable integrity wouldn't permit this, would they?

Ebafia withhold evidence? Surely the upstanding attorneys who work for ebafia would never do such a thing, would they?

The defendant should contact our resident expert in shill bidding, Phil Cohen.

Come back from wherever you've been, Phillip!

The defense to the type of suitsso unwisely this woman has filed is the truth. If ebafia withholds crucial evidence either way and either side can prove it, stand back of watch the fireworks.

I just hope the defense understands what to subpoena, and a good place to start would be all the records from the ALL plaintiff's personal and business internet accounts going back as long as she's suspected of shill bidding.

Such an upstanding ebayer. Surely a seller that ebafia gushes about and even publicly defends wouldn't be guilty of shill bidding.

Say it ain't so. Oh. I guess they already did.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: Lumpsofstuff This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 07:43:43 2012
No matter what else has been brought to light, it is clear that by her own admission, Ms. McFadden's have bid on her auctions and in some cases (not all) won the items in question.

eBay's rule on employees is very clear and "spelled out in detail".

A clear violation and one that I believe, due to the size and notoriety of this seller, deserves more than a 30 day slap on the wrist.

And considering the publicity that this episode is getting, I believe that eBay would be remiss in ignoring it.

And if you are interested in the original forum that started this, you had better get there fast - Ms. McFadden's lawyers have filed to have the court to remove the thread entirely.

So much for the expression of personal thought on the internet....................
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Fri May 18 07:51:26 2012
I'd like to comment on this. But I can't afford to defend myself in a lawsuit ... so I'll just remain silent on this one.

(Ohhhh... I get it. Yes, I see how this works now.)
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Fri May 18 08:28:07 2012
Interesting case.  After the way eBay have gone after the Steiner's accusing them of phishing I have been wondering when posters here will be sued by eBay. They don't like "noise".  Believe me, the thought has crossed my mind.  (And yes, I do realize it is not eBay suing the defendant.)
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 08:39:20 2012
Ming is ABSOLUTELY correct! Great post.

I was actually going to recommend the same thing.  

The defendant needs to subpoena EVRY account they have had and every account ebay suspended connected to that account.

If ebays reality "star" is looking to ebay to give them credibility they are barking up the wrong tree. ebay does not have it to give.

I also want to add that if the person being sued even BELIEVED their comments to be TRUE, then they have their TRUTH defense.

It appears from the way I read the post that the person accusing the store actually backed their belief up with some other SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY.

I also have to wonder if this is more of a PUBLICITY STUNT by McFadden.

However, this could BACKFIRE on her if it comes out that she DOES have a SHILL BIDDER!

If the defendant is oe of the people reportig the shill idders then I hope she has the emails sent to ebay which will also help them look up the DATES and NAMES of those reported hic will make it muc harder for ebay to LIE and COVER UP.

To try ad use ebays "investigation" as proof is a JOKE!

Although,exposing ebays BOGUS "investigatons" would be great.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: walker This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 09:30:18 2012
Hoping that state or federal law enforcement is reading this and take action.  They have the powers needed to get the information to prove or disprove shilling.

eBay needs to stop hiding bidder IDs.  The hiding of IDs makes it easier for shilling to happen.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: mjw2366 This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 09:58:31 2012
We are also an ebay drop off store that had a problem with the purse blog. Besides the fact that the regular posters there are very arrogant and act a know it alls, they falsely posted on their blog that we sell fake designer goods. Which is far from true. We do everything in our power to make sure what we list is legitimate. Our over 5K positive feedback rating is proof of this. The response from the owner of the purse blog when we tried to reach out to them was anything but cordial. I hope you take the owner down for a ton of cash. They deserve it. They do quite a disservice to the blogging, online auction and designer purse industries.  
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 10:12:46 2012
Well...it was always my opinion - when I used to be active at evilBay - that shill bidders were common as can be. For instance, I tried to bid on a pair of shoes once, got outbid and lost.  BUT within 10 minutes of the auction ending, by golly, the winner decided not to pay and I was offered the shoes at the winner's price. Have to say that I declined. That was a common occurance so it wouldn't surprise me that it isn't way more common than the few experiences of it I encountered over there. Another reason I don't buy or sell over there anymore, to much rigging of the game.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
       
Fri May 18 11:10:14 2012
@mjw2366, can you post your eBay ID to see your feedback?  
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: kbk This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 12:02:57 2012
I will preface this by saying
***THIS IS ALL MY OPINION*** BASED ON YEARS OF WORKING WITH T&S AND EXPERIENCE LOOKING AT SHILL BIDDING.
let's just take an objective look at some recent listings:
item 221015951706 (completed)
bidder a***a-> almost 400 bids on 300 items with 92% only on this seller
bidder 8***g ->268 bids on 133 items, 87% WITH 51 bid retractions over the last 6 months
bidder a***n ->310 bids on 137 items, 97%
and the best:
l***l-> 350 bids on 105 items, 100% This bidder's name is also known, has 7 feedback ALL from the above mentioned seller

There are a few other bidders that are iffy, but I'm giving those the benefit of the doubt (even though they were 80-ish%).  

Next item up for consideration:
item 270975557673
bidder k***c ->121 bids on 64 items 100%

another appearance by a***a -> 393 bids, 301 items 92%

NOW, let's take a look at some random bidders:

one of the unluckiest bidders I've seen:
r***n (4)
30-Day Summary
Total bids: 777
Items bid on: 144
Bid activity (%) with this seller: 100%

i***r
30-Day Summary
Total bids: 83
Items bid on: 75
Bid activity (%) with this seller: 98%

d***a
30-Day Summary
Total bids: 196
Items bid on: 20
Bid activity (%) with this seller: 100%

And unfortunately, this list goes on ad infinitum. You can click on ANY auction and find this kind of bidding pattern. Her completed sold rate is almost 100%-how many other sellers can boast that high of a rate, especially on 'luxury' items?

This seller said in print AND on national TV she knowingly allows her employees to bid on items ''just like anyone else''. Bidding patterns are VERY indicative of the typical shill bidding pattern. Seller seems to be under the impression that shill bidding only occurs if you are on the same computer. It's friends, family, employees whether they are in the building or far away like in ohh, I dunno, say Greece.
There was even a big policy about Facebook friends being excluded from bidding http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2011/7/131196467
5.html
As
stated in this article, ''That’s because eBay's shill bidding policy doesn't allow anyone who has more access to your item information than the general eBay community to place bids.''

I also don't see how seller can get the First Amendment pushed aside because she doesn't 'appreciate' the comments. It's a purse blog where it is reasonable for people to know that anything posted there is an opinion. It's not a news site, it's not a journalistic forum, it's a forum for people who enjoy this particular subject to come together and chat.  

Just as this blog is for people to discuss online auctions/e-commerce.  People who post here express opinions and exercise their Freedom of Speech in an online forum. Now, that is being threatened??


Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: kbk This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 12:40:20 2012
other examples (found by another concerned citizen) that IN MY OPINION appear a little off:

These items were ''sold'', it appears to me perhaps they weren't quite so sold as they were relisted fairly rapidly.

For example
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=221010706677
Aution ended May 3 sold for $1075
to bidder 2***0 (who is 16 bids, 3 items, 100% with this seller)
and then
relisted on May 16th.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Prada-Cocoa-...item3a749acda9
The first auction appears to me to be littered with dubious bidding.

and this one
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=270964612367
auctio
n
ended May 3 sold for $510
(again, appears to be more questionable bidders than actual bidders)

relisted auction
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Gucci-Brown-...item3a749ae573
R>and
this one
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=251049674441
auctio
n
ended May 4

relisted auction
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fendi-Tobacc...item3a74a717f2
R>
yes,
NPB's occur and items are relisted. However, in my experience, when shills win, the seller will either do a NPB to avoid fees or just relist the item and eat the fees.
Definitely more items and bidders that should appear on a subpoena.

I really am perplexed at the seller crying wolf here. In my opinion, she's done more damage fighting this than the original forum post would have been capable of.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: trickstunt This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 12:40:25 2012
With over 300 bad buying experiences (as reflected at toolhaus) and the word 'fake' being used to describe items left and right I'm not sure why that seller is still allowed to be there?

Has anyone ever been suspended for way less negs, neutrals and BBEs than that? ( I mean smaller sellers and /or without TV shows of course)

I doubt ebay will just hand over any records of IPs etc willingly. That would prove they look the other way, allow shilling and have faulty policies (eg: allowing people to sign up as many IDs as they want).

The accused seller may even have a special "no touchy" sign of her own?

Regardless of how this turns out it's another black eye for ebay. The world has enough proof that shill bidding is part of ebay business plan, just like threatening and harassing anyone who speaks ill of them.

Go to the complaintsboard.com website and search for ebay purse complaints. It's very ugly. It's obviously part of how ebay tries to handle bad PR imo.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: Lumpsofstuff This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 13:26:05 2012
Just as an F.Y.I, the thread that started this "conversation" on a well known Purse forum/blog has been deleted - one assumes by court order, as been mentioned on that thread.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: kbk This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 13:29:23 2012
@ trickstunt:
while I am sure there are some legitimate complaints on complaintsboard, many are bogus whining without merit. Anyone can post anything there and there is absolutely NO moderation.
Maybe seller should sue them too?
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: justiceforall This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 13:40:11 2012
Unbelievable. So this Corri person is able to silence the truth about fraudulent bidding on her own items? I just had a look at her auctions and you'd have to be a fool not to see the shill bidding going on. I am so sorry to those who were bullied into silence. What a horror.
Perminate Link for eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding   eBay Account Rep Defends Reality TV Star Accused of Shill Bidding
by: kbk This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 18 14:16:08 2012
directly from ebay's own cyber-lips:

Our shill bidding policy is very simple:
Shill bidding is bidding by anyone—including family, friends, roommates, employees, or onlineconnections—that artificially increases an item's price or apparent desirability. In addition, members can't bid on or buy items with the intent to artificially increase a seller's Feedback or to improve the item's search standing. Shill bidding is not allowed on eBay.

Individuals who engaged in shill bidding have been prosecuted and convicted of misdemeanor and felony offenses. They have also received large penalties including fines and restitution of damages totaling more than $100,000 in individual cases. eBay cooperates fully with law enforcement investigations.

''Employees or agents have unique information so to avoid even the possibility of shill bidding, eBay's shill bidding policy prohibits bidding by employees or agents of the seller.'') As an eBay member and an employer, you are responsible for actions of your employees as they affect your account and your eBay business. It's important that your employees understand and follow eBay's policies. eBay has suspended member accounts as a result of actions by those member's employees.



NOW, why isn't this policy enforced?
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