Alleged Coin Fraud Strikes eBay

Just as one six-figure online auction scam on eBay was finding closure, eBay has begun investigating another, according to published reports Wednesday.

This time, the alleged fraud involves the sale of over US$400,000 in gold and silver coins and bullion, which were allegedly never delivered to winning bidders after payment was received, the New York Times reported.

News of the investigation arrived not long after two men pleaded guilty in Sacramento, California federal court to scamming eBay users out of $450,000 over two years by bidding on their own auctions to drive up prices.

eBay spokesperson Kevin Pursglove told the New York Times that eBay is working in conjunction with authorities to assist in the investigation of Anthony L. McEnroe of Peoria, Illinois, who allegedly used the account of another seller that was in good standing, called BillionOne, to auction the coins.

False Positives

According to a customer post on eBay, the false account used by McEnroe received more than 27,000 positive buyer feedbacks (mostly on the sale of Beanie Babies), approximately 17,000 of which were from repeat buyers. McEnroe was also reportedly using AuctionsManager software purchased from the owner of the account, enabling him to run hundreds of coin auctions simultaneously.

McEnroe told the New York Times that he had done nothing wrong and that late deliveries are often a result of customer errors. He also stated he feels eBay is threatened by the use of the AuctionsManager software.

“Nobody here has ripped anybody off that I know of,” McEnroe was quoted as saying.

Blame Game

Several eBay customers have complained about eBay’s handling of the situation, alleging that eBay knew about the problem and took too long to shut it down.

“eBay should take responsibility in this,” one customer said. “I just sent payment on Saturday and they apparently knew about this and didn’t inform us or shut this guy down.”

The majority of eBay customer complaints stemmed from the fact that a former account selling coins under the name Tony McEnroe was also shut down in January for non-delivery. The January account used the same mailing address as the BillionOne account.

“eBay was notified about this possible connection some time ago,” an eBay customer wrote. “They stonewalled and denied there was any connection! Guess what!!! I believe a lot of good eBayers will get burned badly on this.”

Migraines All Around

However, Pursglove told the New York Times that eBay acted as rapidly as its procedures allowed. eBay reportedly suspended the account on Saturday.

The coin fraud is not the first time eBay has been accused of sitting back on a known auction scam. An auction of phony sports memorabilia turned into a legal headache for eBay when a $100 million lawsuit was filed in the spring of 2000, alleging that eBay knew about the auctions but did not take sufficient measures to thwart them.

Although a California judge dismissed the class action suit in January, an attorney for the plaintiffs said that they intended to appeal. The plaintiffs claimed that they purchased $10 million worth of phony memorabilia through eBay.

10 Comments

  • This may be old news, but I just got scammed for over $5000 on a recent eBay purchase. The thief stole the selling account and email of an unsuspecting eBayer, cut-and-pasted a 1909-D $20 and stated that it was PCGS 64 but did not show the registry number. I was a fool-I saw an opportunity to save money on a rare coin and got took badly. He specifically asked for the money to be wired. I have already contacted the FBI and the two banks involved. Of course, I filed the perfunctory complaint with eBay, for what that is worth.
    If anyone has had a similar experience please let me know. I got took good…guess I had it coming.
    Take care,
    wanderful

    • Ron,
      Did you ever get your coins or a refund from Tony McEnroe?
      I purchased three (3) 1/10 Ounce Gold Bullion Coins from him, had BidPay send him a money order for the full amount which I believe was about the same as yours, $116.50 or $117.50, which he cashed. BidPay never answered my emails to them, and Tony just sent me some form letters which basically just said that his lawyers were working on it.
      This person(s) is a crook and a liar.
      Although EBay was slow in shutting him down, I personally don’t hold them responsible. I do however hold the Justice Department, FBI and local authorities responsible. Especially in Peoria, ILL.
      Although I would like to see my money or the coins, I doubt if I will.
      Let me know your case if you wouldn’t mind.
      All the best,
      Art

  • Hi, I sell coins on e-bay, and I have always tried to make sure that the people I sell to are satified with what I am selling. recently, I put a coin for auction that I beleived was legitimate, but it was very quick that I received about 10 e-mails saying that I was a fraud, that the FBI will arrest me etc. Several people even went to file a complant with the FBI against me! I did not even know they were fake!
    I just wanted to say that the art of coin collecting can be very trick sometimes, because even though I have been doing this for a few years, I still have difficulty in some instances in recognising some of the new fakes that are on the market today. People shouldnt go trigger happy about these things… there are still many legitimate sellers out there – like myself!

  • Wow, a lot of money gone in a short period of time.
    I’m a coin dealer and if you don’t mind, will offer a little advice about doing business with coins. Numismatics are a wonderful asset, financially, intellectually and as a way of life for those of us who have pursued this field, in my case since childhood. It’s a large field and encompasses much more than just buying a few nickels and dimes for a lot of us. The realm of numismatics includes art, commerce, history, archaeology, politics, investment, and a host of things pretty much not seen in any other collectible or medium of investment all in one place like coins.
    It can also be highly profitable which opens it to people who are less than honorable on both ends, buyers and sellers. A lot of people I’ve come in contact with over the 20+ years I’ve been professionally engaged in the trade, are only interested in profit or making a quick buck. My advice is to invest in some quality reference books before you spend any money on coins. Read, research and find one or two dealers who you bond with, that are purists and who will consider your real goals, help you develop a plan and take the required actions to help you make intelligent purchases.
    It’s a great business and frankly, I’ve been "taken" for a heck of a lot from "web pro’s" which frankly is a lot more vague than numismatics could ever be.
    You’re not a dealer. You’re a consumer. Auctions are not for uneducated consumers. Get yourself placed with a professional for a few years before you use your credit cards to make purchases through online auctions, and you’ll be a lot better off.
    Tom Pilitowski
    US Rare Coin Investments
    AKA
    Mr Vietnam

  • The coin scams on eBay are not limited to this jerk or even US coins. eBay has been warned repeatedly of a Canadian group known originally as Online Liquidators that has been offering large numbers of fake ancient coins to unsuspecting eBay’rs looking for a "good deal". This group has changed identity frequently but always uses the same modus operandi, i.e. 3-day auctions, limited feedback (usually for small value purchases, not sales), bidders’ id’s hidden (so more knowledgeable collectors cannot contact them), scans removed immediately upon auction closing, large numbers of rare types at below market prices, etc. eBay will eventually shut them down, but they simply reopen under a new ID. eBay has been advised that they could prevent or reduce this kind of scam simply by removing the hidden bidder/hidden feedback options. No such luck. The scams go on.
    Ragmop

  • Perhaps Tony says that he has done nothing wrong…but TONY…you know, you little WEASEL…
    that you ripped off many people on Ebay’s U.S. Coins section…
    Where are my three (3) 1/10 ounce Gold Bullion coins??? You never answered my several emails with any replies that are worth anything. You sent me some FORM letters stating that your lawyers were working on it…Is that the same as saying yourself, friend, wife, family member or Weasel-In-Arms???
    You cashed the money order from BidPay…and they also did not answer my several emails either, so perhaps you and they are friends???

  • I was a victim of this scam as well. I received a letter in April stating that I was #4050 in line to get my refund. I still have not received my 2600.00 refund and have not received a follow-up for ebay investigations, the FBI, or the attorney general in IL.

    The feedback rating on ebay convinced me that this was a legitimate ebay seller with happy customers. Ebay has taken no responcibility for allowing a Name change between two parties.

    Al Milliron

    http://www.ironmill.com

  • I sure hope to see something done about these people ripping off so many innocent ebayers. I am one of BullionOne’s victims. This racket swindled me out of $1064.61 of my hard earned money. Anyone that is able to help me in the recovery of my money I would be very grateful. I am open to advice. I am mortalchap@aol.com

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