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Scams keep going, going
February 24, 1999: 4:39 p.m. ET

Consumer group finds online auction fraud is top Net gripe
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - They're going, going, but complaints about online auctions are by no means gone.
     In fact, the National Consumers League, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer rights group, said its Internet Fraud Watch found that online auction complaints were the No. 1 fraud complaint in 1998.
     Auctions were also first in 1997 with 26 percent of the total frauds reported, but that figure jumped to 68 percent in 1998.
     "More people are online and more people are getting scammed," Susan Grant, director of the Internet Fraud Watch, said in a statement. "Consumers need to remember that con artists are everywhere-even in cyberspace."
     The majority of fraudulent payments -- 93 percent -- were made "off line" by check or money order sent to the company.
     "Requesting cash is a clear sign of fraud," Grant said. "Pay the safest way. If possible, pay by credit card because you can dispute the charges if there is a problem."
     Fraud Watch recommends buyers use escrow services, since many online auction sites are made by individuals who are not equipped to take credit-card payments. Escrow services take payment from the buyers and only pass the money along to the sellers after verification that the goods or services were satisfactory.
     Grant said consumers should take advantage of programs to insure transactions if they are available.
     "With consumers spending several hundred, even thousands of dollars on auction items, the extra expense may be worth it," she said. Back to top


eBay probed for fraud - Jan. 25, 1999

Sotheby's goes online - Jan. 19, 1999


National Consumers League

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