Some online sellers are unusually resourceful when finding inventory to sell online and may use a variety of sources, from cheap overseas suppliers, to liquidators, flea markets, yard sales, and from other online sellers.
But there's a reason for sellers to be careful about their sources since they're responsible for the legitimacy and authenticity of the products they sell, a reality underscored by two recent developments.
The Justice Department announced
a jury had found a couple of online sellers guilty of federal offenses related to their role in what it called a large-scale fencing operation. Here's an idea of how the operation allegedly worked.
Shoplifters with opioid addictions (called "boosters") stole goods from retail stores such as Home Depot, Target, CVS, and Lowe's, and allegedly sold the items at one-third of their retail prices to a retail business that also sold on eBay - and to resellers who also sold the items online.
One of the resellers was found guilty of "conspiracy to commit the interstate transport of stolen property," an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years; and one count of "interstate transport of stolen property," an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years on each count.
Did the resellers know they were buying allegedly stolen property? It's not clear that prosecutors had to prove knowledge or intent.
Another story caught our eye. A local Houston new reporter investigated a case
where an eBay buyer had purchased a "Genuine Apple Macbook Pro refurbished charger" that fried his wife's computer because, the news team determined, it was a counterfeit charger.
It's interesting to read about how eBay handled the issue. But beyond that, where did the business source the goods - did they know they were sourcing allegedly counterfeit products?
Even if you don't knowingly pass off fakes as the real thing, it's your responsibility to check the authenticity and legitimacy of the items you sell online (and keep good records).
These sellers allegedly got away with selling problematic products for some time, but eventually, their business practices came to light. And in one case, at least, there were some dire consequences.