Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Dec 10 2015 21:33:28

How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

By: Ina Steiner

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An eBay seller was able to defraud the US Postal Service of $18,000, according to the Justice Department. But why wasn't eBay able to detect the poor service he provided to customers for over a year?

Details of the case are in Friday's EcommerceBytes newsletter. The seller used an online postage service to print postage labels for one penny and alter them, and here's where it gets interesting:

The seller also labeled the packages to falsely indicate that they were being sent from the customer's address - so when the USPS detected the underpayment, it wouldn't return the package to him.

In most cases, the customers were required to pay additional postage fees to the USPS even though they had sent earlier fees to the seller, according to the US Attorney's office.

While the indictment and press release didn't address details, we wondered - didn't the buyers complain to eBay or leave the seller negative feedback? The government said the seller sent 9,000 packages between April 2009 and October 2010.

Didn't at least some of those 9,000 buyers neg the seller?

Also perplexing - didn't the seller expect to be caught? And didn't he know he was leaving a detailed trail of evidence?




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Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Dec 10 22:33:08 2015

What was Endicia doing during all that time? Didn't they realize that their customer is only printing out labels for 1 cent and it's impossible to mail anything for that price?

I looked up the company name on eBay and it doesn't show a seller called that. I really would love to see the feedback the seller got, which eBay obviously did nothing about if the seller could mail out 9,000 packages.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: imbloated This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 00:23:23 2015

I would love if this blog let us know his sentence. White collar crime, non-violent, for $18,000 is low priority, though he stole from thousands of buyers plus all the tax payers. Good point iheartjacksparrow made about allowing seller to continue despite presumably thousands of complaints.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: imbloated This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 00:24:39 2015

I would love if this blog let us know his sentence. White collar crime, non-violent, for $18,000 is low priority, though he stole from thousands of buyers plus all the tax payers. Good point iheartjacksparrow made about allowing seller to continue despite presumably thousands of complaints.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 01:31:15 2015

And yet, they subsidize china postage for pennies. The usps deserve every evil that comes its way

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: tb This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 01:39:19 2015

Sounds like a Darwin award here. The fact that he wasn't caught in 48 hours after doing this speaks volumes for eBay, Endicia, and the USPS.

Yes, he must of had like a 10% feedback rating.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Dec 11 02:33:20 2015

If USPS was collecting the shipping costs due from the guys customers, then wasn't it the customers / buyers that were defrauded the most.  USPS got paid.  The buyers paid twice.

And all the questions Ina asks are really good ones too.  

Hopefully this guy will get to spend some time behind bars.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 03:29:47 2015

Extra Stupid to have done all this for an AVERAGE of about $2 per criminal act.  TWO DOLLARS ? ...  

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: topdog This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 08:41:25 2015

There is simply no way that "most" of his customers were charged for additional postage. Simply said, USPS doesn't have the time or ability to inspect packages not brought to the counter. You wouldn't believe the things I've seen delivered over the years - weights wrong, no dim weight on large priority packages, etc. None of these were ever delivered with a request for additional postage. So sorry, I'm calling BS on this part of the story. USPS is saying this simply so that others won't realize how incompetent (and understaffed) they are, and how easy it is for shippers to do these things. That ease is precisely why he was able to continue his fraud for several years.  

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: Randy This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 08:47:20 2015

Good point @Marie. The Postal Service, although defrauded, still got their money!  

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Dec 11 09:25:43 2015

"While the indictment and press release didn't address details" ....

I guess we'll have to wait until it is public record & read the court transcript.

As for $2.00USD/package - geez - I'd only risk time in the slammer for a gig that would allow me to vanish filthy rich & assume a new life in Pago-Pago or somewhere.

Most criminals are stoopid (sic), they think they've invented the crime. The real criminals work in business/finance where they DO dream up ways to scam the public or other businesses, and get away with it for the most part, such as mortgage derivatives and other financial instruments which went poof in 2008.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Fri Dec 11 14:43:06 2015

Say what? He was selling Lincoln Head pennies for Positive Feedback and didn't show the postage cost on the shipping label? a la "Casablanca" - I'm SHOCKED that there's fraud on eBay! SHOCKED! ;-)  

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: Santini This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 14:56:07 2015

A thousand doubloons to the first person to reveal this guy's seller name/feedback score!
I won't hold my breath waiting for ebay to discuss this incident.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 14:58:08 2015

"USPS is saying this simply so that others won't realize how incompetent (and understaffed) they are"
USPS delivers over 500 million pieces of mail PER DAY, on average.
I'll agree that they are understaffed but they are certainly not incompetent.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Dec 11 19:18:04 2015

I don't know why some are trying to turn this back onto Ebay.  As if they played a part or otherwise did something wrong.

How was Ebay suppose to know IF buyers weren't complaining or otherwise notifying them.  Back when this was happening shipping labels were done through PayPal.

As for not allowing the shipping rate / paid to show on a label, many honest hard working sellers choose this option as well.  To choose not to have the $$ value print on a label does not mean the seller is doing something underhanded.  But what it does mean is that the seller has chosen for it not to be printed.

I also agree with Bloggo.  The vast majority of packages are delivered on time and in great shape.  We tend to just dwell on the bad experiences and forget that there are far more good experiences than bad.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Dec 11 20:09:05 2015

No matter the number of items that are shipped through the USPS, scamming people do get caught.

I belong to a Facebook group that trades Disney items. It is required by the group that you provide a tracking number to your trading partner when you mail. I set up a trade with a guy and sent him his tracking number. He indicated he would be going to the post office "after 5:00 p.m.," which I thought was very strange as I don't know of any post offices that are open that late except on April 15th.

Later that evening he sent me a photo of his receipt with the tracking number, and I could see that he had paid for First Class Mail postage, not First Class Package postage, which was required for a non-bendable object. So I figured out he was going after the post office closed and using the machines they have installed so he could get a cheaper label and then just throw the package in the collection bin.

I waited for his package to arrive, and was going to turn him in to the postmaster. His package finally showed up days longer than it should have taken to arrive (we are both California residents), and, surprise!, the postage on the package was correct for a First Class Package. I don't know what happened, but obviously he was caught and the package returned to him for the correct postage.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 11 23:53:54 2015

Lots of post offices are open past 5 unless you live in Podunk-ville.

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Fri Dec 11 23:55:30 2015

The main post office here is open until 6:00 p.m. The retail counter at the airport sorting center is open 24/7. The Office Depot mailing center that weighs parcels and prints USPS shipping labels is open until 8:00 pm ... just sayin'  

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Fri Dec 11 23:59:13 2015

@Marie - Ina's lead statement is that "An eBay Seller ..." eBay doesn't exist apart from its Members. What its Members do, eBay does.  

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 12 00:21:04 2015

@HEARTJACKSPARROW---

We often use the automated postage units that are open 24/7.  And we have noticed that on SOME items the weight and cost is NOT correct---not thru any thing we input.  So--it could be that the machine itself set the package up as a different "class"  than it should have---and the label printed out as this .  

Of course it COULD be as you surmise==that the guy did input the wrong info and had the package returned.

I have sent out hundreds of packages using this method and have NEVER had one returned or as far as  know had any one pay Extra postage.  

I do agree that the PO does a generally amazing job for most of us--I am STILL every once in a while getting packages addressed to a neighboring town where we have not lived for 26 YEARS.  It helps that we have tiny post offices and I know the local Postal Masters--but--really---they could just as easily send these back to sender.  We also happen to have a wonderful delivery person who goes far out of her way to take care of us and also an elderly relative we care for---she hand delivers to the house (we are on a very rural route with home mail boxes)  in snow;  ice;  etc.  

This guy ^^^^ however---deserves a MUCH larger fine--he defrauded ALL tax payers.  

Perminate Link for How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000   How an eBay Seller Defrauded the Post Office of $18,000

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Sat Dec 12 02:57:53 2015

@shop and ship

The simple fact that the seller sells on Ebay does not mean that Ebay plays some part in this problem.  It simply means he was or is a seller on Ebay.

We are always complaining how much Ebay micro manages its sellers.  If we run with your theory, then they would me much further into our businesses.  Otherwise, as I said before, if buyers weren't complaining or telling Ebay of the problem, how were they suppose to know?    

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