EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 327 - May 31, 2002     1 of 3

Online Auction Seller Indicted on Mail Fraud Charges

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A former Blackstone, Massachusetts, woman was charged today in federal court with mail fraud in connection with her scheme to defraud unsuspecting purchasers through Internet auction sites. United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Kenneth Jones, Postal Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in New England, announced today that Sharon Hunt, age 46, of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, was charged in an indictment with fourteen counts of mail fraud.

The indictment alleges that during a period commencing in approximately December 1998, Hunt offered items, usually computer laptops, for sale through Internet auction sites. Hunt instructed the winning bidders to forward payment for the advertised items to her mail box address in Massachusetts, at which time, she claimed, she would forward the purchased items. It is alleged that instead, Hunt collected the funds without ever forwarding the purchased items, and failed to refund any of the purchase monies except in one case where the victim threatened criminal action.

Hunt is alleged to have defrauded more than thirty victims all across the United States out of more than $25,000. If convicted on these charges, Hunt faces up to 5 years' imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori J. Holik in Sullivan's Economic Crimes Unit.

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

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