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£5,000 fine for eBay user who bid against himself

'Shill bidding' scam helped drive up prices

A man who bid against himself on auction site eBay to artificially drive up prices has been fined almost £5,000 (approx $7,500), the first to be convicted of such a scam in UK.

The convicted man, Paul Barrett, who supplemented his income as a minibus driver using online auctions, will also have to do 250 hours of unpaid community work.

Originally convicted of the scam in April, Barrett was told he was being spared a jail sentence because the eBay fraud was a first offence.

Items put up in the so-called 'shill-bidding' fraud included two Mercedes vehicles, several mobile phones, a digital camera, and a cash register.

The fraud was basic by shill bidding standards, involving only two identities, 'paulthebusman and 'shanconpaul', which he used to bid against one another, even to the extent of sometimes winning his own auctions and leaving positive feedback.

The extent to which the fake bids drove up prices higher than would otherwise have been achieved was hard to factor, the court in Bradford heard.

"This sort of conduct strikes at the heart of that trust which is vital if this very, very useful commercial medium is to continue to operate successfully," said Judge Benson.


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