Seller Faces £50k Fine For Sham eBay Bids
An eBay seller has become the first person convicted in the UK for making sham bids on his own items on the online auction site.
Paul Barrett, 39, from Stanley, Co Durham, could be fined up to £50,000 after pleading guilty to 10 charges under consumer protection laws.
Barrett, a minibus hire firm boss, increased the value of the items he was selling by bidding on them under a separate user name in an attempt to raise prices.
Although Barrett admitted to misleading marketing and unfair trading breaches, he claimed he was not aware he was acting illegally.
North Yorkshire Trading Standards brought the case to eBay's attention after investigating a complaint that Barrett advertised and sold a minibus that had its mileage reduced illegally.
Officers found he was selling goods under the account name 'shanconpaul' and then bidding for them under his other identity, 'paulthebusman'.
Barrett has had his eBay account suspended and now faces a fine of up to £5,000 for each offence.
Vanessa Canzini, a spokesperson for eBay, described Barrett's actions as "morally unacceptable".
She told Sky News: "It is wholly inappropriate that people think it is acceptable or fair to artificially raise the price on an item they're selling online.
"This case shows the very serious penalties people can incur if they attempt to do this."
Sentencing is due to take place at Bradford Crown Court on 21 May.