Police officially ignore eBay scams

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Garreth Griffith, head of trust and safety at eBay UK has been representing eBayers to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on Personal Internet Security. The committee aims to examine the emerging threats to personal security, and the ways society might counter them. He informed them that many crimes on eBay go unreported and don’t appear on government statistics because the Police simply aren’t interested. We often hear of both sellers losing their goods to scammers and buyers paying for goods which never arrive. When the police are contacted there is immediately an obstacle of should the local force, or the force where the scammer is located be the ones to investigate. Often the victim leaves with no police assistance at all.

What we find is users come back to us saying the police are not interested because it’s only a £500 laptop, or whatever it might be. When we try to get police involved sometimes they will say: “We’d love to help you but if it is not over x threshold thousands of pounds, we cannot”, the priorities are generally around higher-value issues. What happens on eBay tends to be lower-value higher-volume crimes.

Michael Barrett, chief information security officer at electronic payments firm PayPal, says this practice is resulting in unnecessary crimes being committed. ‘You could argue that this is causing the public real harm,’ he said. ‘You will often find there is a threshold before you can get a prosecutor interested in a case. What we do is slowly build a dossier on an individual [perpetrator] until they reach the threshold.’

It’s great that eBay have representation at the highest level, it’s a real pity the police routinely ignore fraud on eBay concentrating on crimes with higher monetary value. Way back in 2002 Tony Blair promised to wage war on crime, perhaps when the committee produces its report the war on crime will include eBay crime.

2 Responses

  1. It looks like Civil Court may be the solution. Or public humiliation on the Judge Judy show. I’m not sure how thinks work in the UK but in the US we have Small Claims Court where buyers can seek justice.

    I think public humiliation is far more effective though.

  2. i got scammed £5450 on ebay and fake e-mails no one will help me even the police, it looks like the police, the bank and ebay is trying to help these scammers, nothing is done about this and i think this should be solved before anymore victims become involved


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