NYC Jeweler Caught Fake Bidding On Its Own Items

Once upon a time we worked at an office where a certain loud individual would sit around bidding on her own stuff on eBay in a sad attempt to drive prices up on her collection of bedazzled jeans. We know this because she not only bid on her own stuff, she asked other people in the office to “fake bid” on her tacky crap.

Now a Manhattan jeweler has been caught systematically inflating bids on its own items, and has agreed to pay a $400,000 settlement. The jeweler’s employees got in fake bidding wars using aliases with the intent to inflate prices. It worked, the fake bidding wars increased prices by about 20%. NY state officials say that 232,000 fake bids were made over the course of a year.

According to WNBC, the company EMH Group LLC did business under the name Jewelry By Ezra, and operated its own site: http://www.auctionriot.com. All signs indicate that consumers should stay as far away from this company as possible!—MEGHANN MARCO

NYC Jeweler Accused Of Manipulating eBay Auctions [WNBC via Gothamist] (Thanks, Cheryl!)

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  1. exkon says:

    Horrible practice. My friends do the same thing, must be hard to spot for the average ebay purchaser.

  2. bravo369 says:

    I bet this happens more often than not for expensive items. I will see items on ebay that are worth about $100 and the listing price was set at $1.99 but amazingly, withing 3 bids, the price is up towards $100. it’s obvious there is intentional self-bidding going on…either that or people really are that stupid

  3. SaveMeJeebus says:

    There is a special spot in hell for shill bidders.

  4. philipbarrett says:

    ebay needs to make some positive & public moves, the perception is that it has become a haven for fraudsters, both buyers & sellers.

  5. winnabago says:

    @philipbarrett:
    Don’t forget the 1 cent auctions with $100 shipping. Ebay has really become a mess these days. I wouldn’t buy or sell anything over $20 there until something changes.

  6. timmus says:

    This is why I snipe auctions when I want something.

  7. Crazytree says:

    shill bidding is a crime in most states.

  8. dmann99 says:

    It probably wouldn’t be hard for EBay to police this timeselves. I don’t think they want to. They have got enough heat on them from fraud as it is, why expose it from within?

    Back in the days where EBay would readily cough up all bidder’s e-mail addresses I was caught up in an auction where the bidding price got stupid high. I ran all the e-mail address domain names through a whois search. Lo and behold I found 3 of the bidders lived in the same single family residence. After weeks of auto-generated responses from EBay support they finally read my complaint and terminated the accounts.

  9. swalve says:

    Like anything else, you have to look at what you’re bidding on and bid appropriately. If a pair of Bedazzlered Wranglers is worth $15, then bid $15. Don’t get caught up in the emotion of it. The reason shills work is because bidders get caught up in the heat of the moment and forget the real value of the moment. If some sap is willing to pay $50 for a pair of used pants, let them.

  10. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Sniping is WELL worth the small fee. I buy about ten things a month on e-bay, six of which I buy outright using Buy It Now, three of which I snipe, and one of which I just get lucky on.

    One reason sniping is so effective is that the seller can see the bid you make before the auction is done. If you’re bidding on something that’s a dollar and you bid 20 because that’s all you want to pay, and then some stranger comes along and bids like 19.50 and then doesn’t bid over you to win, then something is way suspicious.

  11. Chaosium says:

    @timmus:

    Quite, I don’t see any reason to do otherwise.

  12. philipbarrett says:

    Even if you’re honest some deadbeat can post negative feedback about you & ebay just wrings their hands & does nothing. Go Craigslist, at least they’re free!

  13. swalve says:

    speedwell, the seller doesn’t see the entered bid, only the high bid like everyone else.

  14. arachnophilia says:

    i work at an ebay auction house (you bring us stuff, we list it on ebay, and we take a percentage).

    we caught one of our customers bidding on his own stuff once. boy did we chew him out. but we only caught him because he accidentally won his own auction.

  15. shades_of_blue says:

    WTF are you talking about, I’ve got 3 different seller accounts, with around 500+ feedback combined and I’ve never been able to view the total cost before end of auction. I think your terminology is off, don’t you mean ‘best offer’?

    Snipers are buyers who wait till the last 2 minutes and then place their bids in hopes to avoid a price war. When sniping, it’s best to always post with your maximum offer.

    Atomic-Snipers are basically the same thing, but these assholes use dollars in the thousands to guarantee a win. Mix two of these guys together and you’ve got a deadbeat who won’t pay up.

  16. shades_of_blue says:

    ^^^^ Previous post directed at speedwell

  17. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Ok, I was wrong about sellers seeing the amount you bid as opposed to the current selling amount. Sorry about that.

    Then shill bidders must accidentally win their own auctions all the time, right? Wow. I have had someone bid up to within cents of my offer and then just stop on, oh, four or five separate occasions in the last couple years. Maybe it’s just chance. But one of those auctions was for over six hundred dollars, and my winning bid was something like 601.66, and the second-highest bid was something like 600.50. It just looks weird.

  18. shdwsclan says:

    Shill bidders are nothing new on ebay, its filled with them….

    You just have to know how to find them….
    Generally it works like this…..

    They bid literally cents above….and then offer you second chance offers…Thats verification, report it to ebay that you believe its shill bidding [obviosly they’ll do nothing] and then an easy way is to check if the ip addresses are the same…for both bidders…

  19. palaste says:

    I certainly hope the seller does not see the winning bidder’s maximum bid. However, if the shill bidder is the seller, or knows him personally, then he could always just tell him his maximum bid.