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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 540 - May 19, 2003 - ISSN 1539-5065    3 of 3

Cyber Criminals Beware: Victims Are Watching You

By Ina Steiner
May 19, 2003

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Dale Peterson bought a laptop from J.C. Morris & Co through a Yahoo! Store around Easter of 2002 using his PayPal account. A week later he became suspicious of the seller, and began a search that would change his life.

Peterson uncovered message boards with complaints about the company and its founder, Todd W. Short. Over 1 year later, Dale is pretty certain he will never see his laptop or the $899.40 he spent for it. On Tuesday, Short was arrested in North Carolina and faces federal charges.

Peterson has spent many hours following the case. In December 2002, he spent about 80 hours creating a Web site devoted to outlining the history of J.C. Morris & Co. and its owner. After the posts about Short on the FatWallet message boards became unwieldy, Peterson said he "realized it needed to be set up in an organized way." His Web site costs money to maintain, and he spends about half an hour every day keeping it up to date. So what was Peterson's motivation for creating the site? He explained, "I'm not accustomed to being screwed. It's anger at being taken advantage of, at being lied to and deceived. It's not about getting the money back."

Peterson said Short intimidated him through phone calls and on his Web site, and said Short got several message boards to remove negative posts by threatening the owners with lawsuits.

Peterson's site is a virtual encyclopedia of J.C. Morris & Co. Prosecutors may look to some of Peterson's archived documents as evidence.

Peterson is part of a growing trend of online fraud victims gathering information and documenting crime, a trend we first reported last October: http://www.auctionbytes.com/pages/abn/y02/m10/i12/s01 .

To review Peterson's Web site, go to http://www.jcmorris.com . Peterson said he couldn't resist buying the domain name formerly belonging to Todd Short's company.

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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