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Subject: [IP] more on eBay faces up to online fraud The online auctioneer eBay has admitted an "extreme growth" in the number of personal accounts being hijacked by fraudsters.

  • From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
  • To: ip@v2.listbox.com
  • Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 18:28:34 -0500



Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <Bob2-19-0501@bobf.frankston.com>
Date: December 16, 2005 3:21:42 PM EST
To: dave@farber.net, ip@v2.listbox.com
Subject: RE: [IP] eBay faces up to online fraud The online auctioneer eBay has admitted an &quot;extreme growth&quot; in the number of personal accounts being hijacked by fraudsters.


Given the amount of phishing I&#x2019;m surprised there are any uncompromised
accounts.

I'd be interested in knowing more about what eBay and others are doing to
try to get ahead of the problem.


Yes, I&#x2019;m a bit obsessed about phishing because it compromises basic social
mechanisms and gets past the normal social controls on such activity. The
Internet has introduced kind of relationships that defy our familiar
models.


I don't expect a simple answer but I'm still puzzled by the lack of visible
law enforcement activity -- are there examples of prosecution for such
crimes other than the individual sellers who get caught. I presume they are
the small disposable players.


-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber [mailto:dave@farber.net]
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 15:13
To: ip@v2.listbox.com
Subject: [IP] eBay faces up to online fraud The online auctioneer eBay has
admitted an &quot;extreme growth&quot; in the number of personal accounts being
hijacked by fraudsters.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4533154.stm

eBay faces up to online fraud
The online auctioneer eBay has admitted an &quot;extreme growth&quot; in the
number of personal accounts being hijacked by fraudsters.

Criminals are obtaining the secret passwords of eBay subscribers and
using their sites to conduct bogus auctions for non-existent goods.
In a growing number of cases, would-be buyers on the UK's most used
website are paying thousands of pounds to apparently reputable
sellers after winning auctions on the site - only to find out they
had been dealing with criminals.
In an interview with Radio 5 Live, eBay would not reveal exactly how
many accounts had been hijacked, although a company spokesman refused
to deny that possibly tens of thousands had been compromised.
&quot;Last year there was extreme growth,&quot; said Gareth Griffiths, head of
trust and safety for eBay. &quot;Certainly last year it was a high-growth
area for us, it's a painful issue.&quot;
In one recent case, up to ten people are thought to have paid a total
of &#xA3;15,000 for non-existent hot tubs, while another would-be buyer
thought he had purchased a &#xA3;4,000 camper van - which turned out not
to exist.
Grab and go

In both cases eBay accounts had been hijacked to sell off the non-
existent goods.




It gets to the point where that is obstructive to our inquiry Ruth Taylor, North Yorkshire Trading Standards The hijacking of sellers' accounts is a particularly sensitive issue for the auction site, which relies to a large degree on the level of trust between the buyer and seller of goods for its success. There are more than three million items for sale on the site at any one time.

eBay blames its account holders for not installing proper security on
their home computers and for replying to so-called &quot;phishing&quot; emails.

These are fake emails made to look like official eBay messages and
which demand the secret passwords to users accounts.

Viruses are also said to be infecting home computers by installing
themselves inside hard drives, where they monitor the keystrokes of
eBay users, make a record of passwords before sending them onto the
fraudsters.

'Nothing to do with us'

Describing the problem as an &quot;off eBay&quot; issue, Mr Griffiths said the
problem was &quot;nothing to do with us&quot;.

In several cases examined by the BBC the eBay users who had their
accounts hijacked claimed to be computer literate and vehemently
denied that they had replied to phishing emails.



&quot;There is no way I would have done that,&quot; said Dr Oliver Sutcliffe a
biochemist from Nottingham. His site was hijacked over the space of
one weekend to sell thousands of pounds worth of electrical goods.

EBay is also under fire from law enforcement officials and
manufacturers over levels of crime on the site and the levels of
cooperation they receive.

Trading standards officers who regularly investigate crimes
perpetrated on the site have accused eBay of being &quot;obstructive&quot; in
the way it shares information. North Yorkshire Trading Standards says
eBay can take up to two months to provide the names and addresses of
suspects it is pursuing.

&quot;If it takes up to two months, then it is eating in to a lot of time
that we have to make prosecutions,&quot; said Ruth Taylor, who heads the
authority's special investigations unit. &quot;It gets to the point where
that is obstructive to our inquiry.&quot;

Faking it

Concerns have also been raised about the large amount of counterfeit
goods on sale on eBay.

Adidas told the BBC that it monitored up to 12,000 auctions involving
its goods every day on the British site - yet it estimated that up to
40% of all Adidas products available were counterfeit.



eBay says it has a special relationship with brand owners, who can
notify the site of auctions involving counterfeit goods which will
then be taken down within hours.

However, the Ben Sherman clothing brand says it recently took eBay
five days to take down an auction of counterfeit clothing - by which
time much of it had been sold.

&quot;I think one must say that it's highly unsatisfactory,&quot; said Barry
Ditchfield, Ben Sherman's brand protection manager.

&quot;With all the amount of profits that eBay makes, then there is ample
scope for additional staff. Frankly, it is totally unsatisfactory,
not just for Ben Sherman but for all brand holders.

EBay have rejected the accusations, saying that the company has a
good relationship with law enforcement officials.

&quot;The satisfaction level is generally very high,&quot; said Gareth Griffiths.



Five Live Report: Policing eBay can be heard on Radio Five Live at
1930BST on Sunday 18 December or afterwards at the Five Live Report
website.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/business/4533154.stm

Published: 2005/12/15 23:56:44 GMT

&#xA9; BBC MMV

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