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.