FTC Says Deception and Fraud Are on the Increase on the Internet

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a federal agency that works to prevent fraud, deception and unfair practices in the marketplace, reported that in 2003 the average victim was taken for $195. They stated that of the 516,740 complaints received in 2003 – more than half, 301,835 complaints were about fraud and deception. Of all the fraud reports, the FTC listed the Internet as the highest at 55% for 2003, up 10% from 2002.

The law on deception is widely misunderstood. In 1597, a con-artist selling a fake ‘antique’, would have had an ear chopped off and been thrown in the pillory. In the 1800’s, a con artist would have been dealt death as a felon. In 2004 thieves who choose not to abide by the law are at risk of having action brought against them for civil damages, investigation by the FTC and criminal prosecution.

The demand for ‘antique’ items has remained, and though the seasons like the predators have come and gone, internet auctions reveal, it’s the same old scam, it’s just a lot faster and requires a lot less contact. Thieves anonymously rush into paradise while legislation remains powerless against their cunning.

“There is not a thing that we can do about it,” an officer at Waukesha Police Department told one of Fox Riverwalk Antique Mall’s dealers, Cathie Rees, when she was duped out of $150 last year.

What can you do to avoid being duped?

Pay via Paypal, Escrow, or with your credit card for protection, however, do not leave it more than 30 days if you are not happy with your purchase, or you will not be able reclaim your funds readily through Paypal.

What can you do if you have been duped?

Ask if the seller will take the item back. There is a good chance you will be told that the item is as described. Try threatening negative feedback. NO! This only works with novices, hard-core sellers and fraudsters know that feedback is reciprocal and thus it is a redundant threat – leading to a stalemate. Also bare in mind, these con artists have many faces and many user ID’s for various different on-line auction sites, such as eBay and Yahoo.

If the seller will not see reason, demand an immediate refund of all costs, a gift for your trouble and a promise not to continue in this practice or you will report them to the FTC. This will not faze many con artists. Thus, the last resort: Threaten with a civil suit and report them to the FTC anyway.

This statement is an example of a sales tactic: “Satisfaction is Guaranteed or Your Money Back”. It looks good and sounds reassuring but the internet is not Wal-Mart and this is no evidence of a guarantee!

Additional Information:

Definitions of terms you should know if you intend to sell or buy on-line. * “SHILL BIDDING,” when rogue, or fraudulent sellers and or their “shills” drive up the price by bidding on sellers’ items. * “BID SIPHONING,” bidders are lured off legitimate auction sites by con artists and offered the ‘same’ item at a cheaper cost. The buyer no longer protected has been scammed, the con artist having no intent of ever proffering the article. * “BID SHIELDING,” rogue or fraudulent buyers place high bids to put off other bidders from trying to get the same item and then they retract their bids so as that the people they know can then get the item at a cheaper cost. You can Find Out More about your rights and report fraud and deception at FTC website: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/online/auctions.htm

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