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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 450 - December 23, 2002 - ISSN 1539-5065    2 of 3

eBay Seller Pleads Guilty to $800,000 Auction Fraud Scheme

By Ina Steiner
December 23, 2002

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A Connecticut woman pleaded guilty in federal court to running an $800,000 scam in which she sold computers through eBay, collected money from her customers, and then failed to provide the customers with the computers.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Kenneth R. Jones, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's Northeast Region, announced that TERESA SMITH, a/k/a "Teresa Iaconi", age 25, of 33 Grandview Court, Farmington, Connecticut, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to five counts of mail fraud and five counts of wire fraud.

At the hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that, had the matter proceeded to trial, the government would have shown that, from April, 2001 through October, 2002, SMITH sold hundreds of computers, through Internet auction Web sites, to individual buyers. For most of this time, SMITH was living in Boylston and Worcester, Massachusetts, and was operating out of an office in West Boylston, Massachusetts.

While some of Smith's buyers received the computers they paid for, Smith defrauded many others by requiring them to pay up-front and then never providing them with the computers she had promised them, and refusing to refund their payments. When irate buyers confronted Smith over the telephone or by e-mail, Smith gave them a series of false explanations, excuses, and promises of imminent refunds. However, Smith was unable to refund all of the money she had received, since she had spent much of it on living expenses and to found her own advertising business, which ultimately failed.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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