Ebay trader fined for shill bidding

An eBay trader has been fined around £5000 and received a community service order for bidding on his own items in an attempt to boost their final selling prices. The processes, referred to as shill bidding, which is a fairly common practice, but now that people are catching and those behind the illegal practice are getting caught.

Paul Barrett was the first person within the UK to be prosecuted for fixing online auction prices after he admitted that he used dual eBay accounts to bid against his own items.

He was caught after a complaint was issued against his mini-bus hire firm leading to an investigation from the North Yorkshire Trading Standards.  The complaint was that he sold and advertised a vehicle on eBay with lower mileage than it had originally.

Officers discovered that Barrett was selling goods on the auction site under the name ‘shanconpaul’ and then using the name ‘paulthebusman’ to bid on them.  He would also use the second account to post positive feedback for the account as well.

He was found guilty of breaching both the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.

Barrett plead guilty but stated that he did not know that bidding against his own auctions was a criminal offense.

The Office of Fair Trading 2007 report stated that shill bidding is one of the most popular types of problems that occur with online auction site bidders.  In fact, 14% of those polled in a survey stated that they thought they had been victims of shill bidding.