eBay Shill Bidding Overview Newly Revised.This is not specifically eBay Motors related, but since Motors runs auctions on Vehicles and Parts & Accessories Doc figured he would help spread the word.

The buzz circulating in cyberspace about whats apparently being done to raise the eBay Inc bottom line in San Jose.

What are the NEW guidelines?

Restricted: Buying an item from someone you know, as long as you don’t intend to artificially increase its price or desirability or violate our Feedback manipulation or search and browse manipulation policies.

Not allowed: Bidding on your own items with another account

Interesting wording: Buying an item from someone you know, as long as you don’t intend to artificially increase its price or desirability. How could this wording be interpreted without some eBay double speak?

As far as i can tell – this change to eBay shill billing policy is only for eBay members within the USA.

If you sell international, and have an employee bid on your items against an international bidder, you may be in violation of this new eBay shill bidding policy.

This below content in the eBay (USA Site) shill billing tutorial was removed.

Question #8:
Consignment shops (sometimes called ‘drop shops’) offer a great service for helping people sell their items on eBay. However, to avoid even the appearance of Shill Bidding, owners or employees of consignment shops may never bid on the items the shop offers for sale. If the consignment shop is part of an extended franchise operation, individuals employed within any part of the franchise are not allowed to bid on items listed by any franchise member.

Question #9:
When a member’s eBay business grows, they sometimes hire employees to help with that business. Bidding on a seller’s item by individuals employed by the seller — in any role — is a violation of eBay’s Shill Bidding policy. As an eBay member and an employer, you are responsible for actions of your employees as they affect your account and your eBay business. It’s important that your employees understand and follow eBay’s policies. eBay has suspended member accounts as a result of actions by those member’s employees.

There are TWO different eBay shill bidding tutorial pages on eBay.com.

If you have JavaScript turned OFF you are served this text only page. Otherwise eBay serves you the JavaScript enhanced page. As of this posts publication date the Non JavaScript page has not been edited. A screen capture of the text only (unedited) page is here.

eBay OLD Shill Bidding Policy Overview
eBay OLD Shill Bidding Policy Overview

But regardless of eBay Policy — Shill Bidding is Against The Law. And there are severe consequences in store for anyone convicted of this crime. eBay may think they are the god of the Internet, but they can not overrule or circumvent U.S. Federal Law!

US Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 63, §1343, “Fraud by wire, radio, or television”, is the applicable Federal statute:

“Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

Notice how broad that definition is. Any form of cheating to gain an advantage is criminal fraud. Undisclosed vendor (shill) bidding on an eBay auction, for the purpose of inflating the price, clearly falls under that definition and it is therefore a Federal crime. eBay’s effective and knowing aiding and abetting of such activity could also be found to be a crime, that of “criminal facilitation.”

eBay’s quite deliberate actions, eg, the further anonymizing of bidders with virtually meaningless, non-unique bidding IDs, to obscure (and aid the denial of) such criminal activity could be considered such a criminal facilitation.

The U.S.criminal code makes aiding and abetting a federal crime itself a crime:

A person may be convicted of aiding and abetting any act made criminal under the code [eg, ‘wire fraud’]. The elements of aiding and abetting are, generally:
(1) guilty knowledge on the part of the accused (the mens rea);
(2) the commission of an offense by someone; and
(3) the defendant assisted or participated in the commission of the offense (the actus reus).

That definition should be broad enough to catch eBay in their effective aiding and abetting of such shill bidding fraudsters, before, during, and after the fact.

What a team these two would make. J.R. Ewing and John Donahoe.
What a team these two slithering rattlesnakes would make. J.R. Ewing and John Donahoe.

Maybe eBay should make J.R. Ewing their CEO. 😆

More info about this policy change is here at Cappnonymous blog post on the subject. And also on a previous Cappnonymous post.

A lively shill bidding policy revision topic is making the rounds in cyberspace. And a good conversation about the Corrie McFadden / eDropOff Lawsuit that might have prompted this policy change.

Wikipedia also has a good info page about the definition of a: SLAPP Lawsuit.