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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 82 - November 03, 2002 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

Wiping Out Online Auction Fraud

By Ina Steiner

November 03, 2002

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The media frequently writes about online auction fraud. But theft and fraud take place in "real life." Even the Nigerian Letter scam (an advance-fee scam) has been around for many years, perpetrated first through regular snail-mail, then via fax delivery, before finally hitting email http://tinyurl.com/2e46

Why does online fraud get so much attention from journalists? First, it's news, and secondly, it makes a compelling story. There's a human-interest element as well as the news angle, and often there are large sums involved. Honest auction users sometime feel the media gives too much attention to online auction fraud. Sellers in particular may be afraid that it will scare buyers away.

David and I write about fraud in AuctionBytes-Update in the hopes it will educate honest users. The more you know, the more you can protect yourself. We recently wrote an article about a new kind of fraud involving escrow accounts that caught even normally careful users unaware http://www.auctionbytes.com/pages/abn/y02/m10/i25/s01. I also wrote about a new trend on the part of victims: vigilantism http://www.auctionbytes.com/pages/abn/y02/m10/i12/s01, a trend first spotted by Jon Swartz of USA Today in July.

We also think it's important to write about the consequences of fraud, not only for victims, but for perpetrators as well. Law enforcement is getting better at catching and convicting cyber-criminals.

There are ways to avoid fraud, and experienced users may forget that many people are in the dark about these techniques. We are introducing two new features on the AuctionBytes Web site to try to help readers prevent and cope with fraud: a new page listing fraud resources http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/pages/fraud, and a new forum at http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=28. Please join in the discussion on how to avoid fraud. Working together, maybe we can minimize online auction fraud.

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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