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Letters To Ebay Ceo Donahoe Protesting Emr Elimination

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Posted 06/03/2014   4:33 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add MikeQ to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm sure that the members here would appreciate hearing some stories from all the victims out there, so that we can better protect ourselves in the future. Hopefully some victims will come forward. Bill, it would be nice to hear from you - a former insider in the program - who the program caught and punished over the eight years. Fraud being a felony in most jurisdictions, it stands to reason that there have probably been a long line of criminal prosecutions as a result of the efforts of the anti-fraud program. Since that type of info is public record, you wouldn't be putting yourself in jeopardy by sharing the info.
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Edited by MikeQ - 06/03/2014 4:45 pm
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Posted 06/03/2014   5:02 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bill Weiss to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Mike,

I appreciate your participation and questions. In most cases, people who are "taken" by fraud are not anxious to talk much about it, except maybe to the authorities! But I have invited someone you know well who was the victim of a deceptive and fraudulently-described item that he bought which involved a lot of money. I'm hoping he joins this thread. For some reason, you seem to be skeptical, which I don't quite understand? Do you think that someone like me (and I certainly was not alone in participating in these Programs. The Stamp Community Watch had 5-6 different experts at one point and the EMR Program probably had just as many) is making this stuff up?!. Virtually ALL of those people do not wish it to be known that they participated, for fear of retribution, as all or most of them have retail stamp businesses, so are wary that it could hurt their business should it become widely known of their activities. I frankly don't care. I am happy and anxious to share my experiences).

As far as "punishment", other than suspensions of seller's accounts (which was common), actual criminal prosecutions are RARE. And I am going to put a copy below of an email sent to me (and others) about an active investigation against someone (names removed for obvious reasons) except for the eBay Reviewer. As you will see "right from the horse's mouth" how tough it is to get law enforcement involved and active. I can also tell you that this particular seller has ran rampant on eBay for years, and is STILL going strong, despite the efforts of many people......

From: xxxxxxxxxxx
To: bbbbb
Subject: aaaaa investigation
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2013 14:11:12 +0000



Hello Gentlemen,



I want to make you aware that the Global Asset Protection team is actively investigating xxxxx and the evidence I have sent them. As explained to me by the investigator, due to the EU's privacy laws it makes this investigation all the more difficult to collect information and evidence from UK law enforcement. Because of this, I was informed this will be an investigation that will take some time. The investigation is out of my hands except for continuing to forward any evidence/information sent to me.



Just wanted to let you know.



Best Regards,



Judith Stair
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Edited by Bill Weiss - 06/03/2014 5:04 pm
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Posted 06/03/2014   5:05 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add 3Dadeo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
MikeQ, I don't think that Bill needs to show us examples if we take his word for it.

If you ask for specific seller names to watch out for, the worst offenders have multiple accounts and change names as needed.

The other stamp board based out of Australia has a list of some past and present fraudsters if you are interested in names.

The problem is that without eBay support (which they don't wish to give apparently), none of these fraudsters will ever go to court.

It is interesting that eBay will jump when a big name company like Cartier, or some other complains. They seem to wish to ignore stamp and coin fraudsters because they don't see it as their problem, and also, there is no strong lobby to pressure them to get on top of the problem.

A petition is one form of pressure, but in order for eBay to act, some stamp entity that is well known/respected (like APS, or RPSC here in Canada, or ideally a unified front of many organizations) needs to find a way to engage in dialog and force eBay to act.

Bill, your letter is a good start. APS has an obligation to publish it in my view also.

BTW- I have not seen an announcement by eBay regarding this on their website. Is this something they wish to do with as little notice as possible?
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Posted 06/03/2014   6:23 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add I_Love_Stamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well stated Bill. If someone gets a petition up and running I know of at least 3 site I can personally run it by and get signers!
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Posted 06/03/2014   7:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add TheArtfulHinger to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Mike - as Bill has noted, eBay's allowing of fraudulent sellers to operate with utter and absolute impunity hurts everyone who sells on the site. I don't collect US stamps, but I take the same lesson anyone should take, namely don't buy expensive stamps on eBay without a very healthy dose of caution. As he mentioned, the more buyers who realize the extent of fraudulent activities, the more they hold back on bidding (or leave the site entirely), which hurts the honest sellers as well.

I, for one, will think long and hard before I even spend 3 figures on a stamp there. I'd rather pay a little more from a reputable dealer with a good return policy. I'd rather do that than deal with the agony of finding out later that my collection is riddled with forgeries, fakes, altered and repaired stamps.
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Posted 06/04/2014   12:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bill Weiss to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"BTW- I have not seen an announcement by eBay regarding this on their website. Is this something they wish to do with as little notice as possible?";

Absolutely. The information about the EMR and SCW Programs being discontinued was sent to participating members only and the letter was "unofficial". You will not find any announcement or any other information from eBay. They also never widely publicized either the SCW or EMR Programs. Has any reader here ever heard of the EMR Program? However there is plenty of "evidence" that a major change took place recently.

In the past, if an EMR Program member reported a problematic listing, there was a special webform available to Program members. That webform allowed as many reports of that seller's listings as were judged to be problematic or deceptive. There was a large space where we could explain in detail exactly what the reason(s) were for the report(s). That webform has been gone for weeks. When I inquired as to where it went, I was instructed to send reports directly to the Reviewers. It didn't matter as they weren't acted on anyway! And inquiries as to why they weren't were ignored. Multiple inquiries.
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Posted 06/04/2014   12:34 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bill Weiss to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would also like to take a moment to thank readers here for participating in this discussion. It has not been as well received on some other philatelic discussion boards, which saddens me, as I believe this is an important subject which touches the lives directly of anyone who shops on eBay and assumes that eBay has a program in place which will help protect them against deceptive listings. They do not. I would invite readers to find some listings that are misrepresented in some way, then hit the "Report Item" button, and follow the instructions. Then follow the reported item to see if eBay removes it based on your report. I would be stunned if they did!
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Posted 06/04/2014   06:28 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I do not think that eBay can be called a mall at all, they are more like the owner of a flea market filled with pawn shops. A mall has brick and mortar business owners who have invested considerable amounts of money into their business. While eBay certainly has some of these type folks the vast majority are people like myself who now have a way to turn over extra stuff they don't want or need. As such, the chances of coming across mis-described, incorrect or even outright fraudulent material is very, very high. I doubt few people would shop in a brick and mortar mall if the chances of ending up with worthless material was the same as it is on eBay.

If we follow the same logic of 'buyer beware' then we also ought to do away with all consumer laws and organizations like the Better Business Bureau. Pawn shops wouldn't need to be policed and dining out would become truly a crap shoot (pun intended) without health departments monitoring the level of cleanliness.

I would also defer to BillW's and other expertizer's opinion in this matter. These fellows are on the 'front lines' of our hobby when it comes to understanding the impact of online deception. They are the ones who get to tell unsuspecting hobbyists that they just purchased worthless items and see the fallout.

And do not think that just because you make purchases from those sellers who have a high positive feedback gives you some kind of insurance. It is no more of an insurance than buying a 'AKC papered' dog from a guy in the flea market (people have gotten AKC papers for cows and pigs).

I have a hard time believing that having no one watch the hen house is going to turn out well for our hobby.
don
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Posted 06/04/2014   09:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add quigngt to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I would gladly sign a petition if one ever becomes available. My experience with eBay, whether reporting either fraud or a simple misdescription, never resulted in any action by eBay. In fact in every instance eBay laid the burden back on me by instructing me to contact the seller concerning his/her error.
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Posted 06/04/2014   10:48 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bill Weiss to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
quigngt;

Indeed, you are right, as eBay general had a policy of ignoring reports from "non-expert" members. When the Stamp Watch Committee was active, those non-expert member reports WERE forwarded to the SCW members who reviewed them, then made their recommendations back to eBay, who then generally followed the advice of the SCW, which meant that if the SCW agreed with the non-expert member's report, they removed the item. But after the SCW was disbanded (by eBay) and the EMR Program too effect, I think at that time the webform for reporting was changed so that ONLY EMR Members could explain why a report was being made. When the non-EMR webform was changed, that was a dark day because it took away the member's ability to report a problematic listing and basically narrowed down any reports that might get action to those made by EMR members. But with this new development, disbanding the EMR Program results now in no program (that I know of) to allow expert members to make a report (other than the same webform available to everyone - which has no provision for allowing you to state your reason).

For Mike Q; Here is a private email I received testifying to that writers personal experiences;

Bill,

I appreciate you fighting the fight. I see a lot of misidentified, faked, fraudulent, and just plain misunderstood material on a regular basis. I spend a fair amount of time trying to combat it also, whether I am pointing it out to major auction houses (or minor ones), eBay sellers, and dealers at show bourses. You have helped me get things knocked off eBay on at least an occasion or two. My results are mixed, personally. Some acknowledge and don't change a thing, some are happy to know and pull the item, some have even blocked me from buying or asking questions. Unfortunately, there are some certs out there that are sloppy at best and disingenuous at worst and too many sellers hang their hats on a cert for material that they don't understand. If you want a good example of that, look at Edward Younger's $7200 GB cover with the Brandon Cert --- doesn't even get the cover origin correct...


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Posted 06/04/2014   11:04 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

MikeQ,

I was the victim of fraud from a dodgy seller. I purchased an "unused, part OG" US 38. It ended up being used with a cleaned pen cancel and regum.

If you are interested in looking up instances of fraud on eBay, and seeing who some of the sellers are, take a look at the SCADS website (Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers). There hasn't been much activity on the website for some time, but I don't know if that means they aren't investigating anymore or if they simply are not updating their website.

http://www.scads.org/index.htm

Sellers list: http://www.scads.org/shame/shame.ht...ionable_naru


Bill Weiss,

I use to report fraudulent activity regularly (especially shill bidding) until eBay chose to hide the identities of bidders/buyers many years ago. It was at that time that I gave up believing that eBay was truly interested in stopping fraud. Nowadays, if I see a misidentified stamp, I contact the seller directly and politely offer an opinion on their listing.

Thank you for your efforts and expertise. It matters!

Brian Riley
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Posted 06/04/2014   12:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I came across this article about stamp fraud on eBay dating back to 2001. At that time, noted expert and postal histoian Richard Frajola wrote a letter with signed petition to eBay. eBay gave the petition lip-service and little more.

http://www.scads.org/ebay/petition.htm

Bill Weiss, were you a part of this anti-fraud effort back in 01-02?

Brian
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Posted 06/04/2014   12:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add MikeQ to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Brian, Mr Frajola's recent post on PhilaMercury:

Posted Jun 2, 14 19:33 by Richard Frajola (frajola)

eBay

My response to Bill by email (feel free to email Bill your thoughts but do not feel the need to dump here please) follows for the record:

"You might well be surprised at my particular take of the situation: I think eBay did the right thing because I believe that a lawless marketplace that everybody is aware is lawless is better than a site that claims it has rules and can not enforce, or regulate, based on those rules. No philatelic marketplace can be made free of fraud and it is utterly naive to think that can be changed. eBay has certain buyer protections regarding refunds which, legally, is the extent of recourse in any transaction. The buyer has to take responsibility to learn and find the sellers they trust (correctly or not)."

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Posted 06/04/2014   12:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Wow - that seems to be a huge change in philosophy by Mr Frajola between 2001 and the present - I'm not sure what to make of it.

My own opinion is that I can see why people stop caring - when people invest time and effort into making eBay a better place, and those efforts go un-noticed, if not ignored, why keep trying?

I hate when the bad guys win ...

Brian
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Posted 06/04/2014   12:35 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add smauggie to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well, not only do the bad guys win, but also those who are seen as one of the few good guys in a sea of bad guys. Their goodness shines all the more, metaphorically speaking.
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APS Member #: 222539 AAPE, Maplewood Stamp Club (MN), Northern Philatelic Society, US Philatelic Classics Society, Auxiliary Markings Club, Canal Zone Study Group, Minnesota Postal History Society
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