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Warning: You May Be Selling to the Feds

US Department of Justice
Warning: You May Be Selling to the Feds

An online seller learned the hard way that you don’t always know to whom you are selling. And while the government says the seller lied to buyers about the source of his elephant and whale ivory inventory, he apparently took his buyers at face value.

The feds said that over a sixteen-month period beginning in September 2018, the seller did business with US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) undercover agents.

He pled guilty on Tuesday to charges that he sold or offered for sale at least 50 pieces of elephant ivory, with a total market value between $40,000 and $95,000. The man pled guilty to the unlawful sale of endangered species and will be sentenced on August 31st.

“During their correspondence, Cooper and the undercover agents discussed the illegality of buying and selling ivory across state lines,” according to the Justice Department, which alleged the following:

“On November 17, 2018, Cooper offered to sell to an undercover USFWS Special Agent multiple ivory pieces for a total cost of $8,125. On November 26, 2018, Cooper sold two pieces of carved elephant ivory to the undercover agent and mailed the items from Virginia to New York. Upon forensic investigation, the items were confirmed to be genuine elephant ivory.”

The government also alleged that the seller told clients he was selling off an estate belonging to an elderly couple in poor health but in reality “was regularly buying ivory online and flipping the pieces for profit.” The full press release was published on the DOJ website.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

3 thoughts on “Warning: You May Be Selling to the Feds”

  1. The government does this regularly. If you are an honest seller, you have nothing to worry about. I am glad to see this.

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