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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 14:59 GMT
Inquiry into eBay complaints
EBay website
Thousands of items are offered on the site
Trading standards officers are investigating complaints about transactions on the eBay online auction site.

Working Lunch has already highlighted problems with money being taken but no goods being delivered.

But many more viewers have been in touch with their own experiences.

The site does have measures to try to stop fraudsters.

But it's clear that some determined people are registering with multiple identities to avoid the security checks.

Suzie at computer
Suzie warns other users of problems
In some cases, the scams are highly sophisticated, involving a number of different users.

One viewer, Suzie Dzialoszynski, has set herself up as an online guardian angel, warning new buyers about the fraudsters using various names to rip people off.

"They quite often will use two or three at the same time, one to list the items and then another couple to bid the price up," she says.

"So the innocent buyer ends up paying more if they actually get the goods in the end, which they don't."

EBay has its own system for establishing a trader's credentials.

EBay site
Users are rated by fellow traders
After a transaction people give feedback - either praise or complaints. These make up a person's rating so new buyers and sellers can decide whether to do business with them.

But Suzie says even that system is open to abuse.

"If it's legitimate feedback, if you've actually gone through with a sale from an independent seller or buyer, then that person's feedback would be legitimate," she says.

"But if you're leaving feedback for yourself under your various identities, you're going to always leave positive feedback, and that lures people to think that you are legitimate."

Douglas McCallum, head of eBay in the UK, says the company takes what steps it can to stamp out wrongdoing on the site, including a system to track down people using multiple names.

"We co-operate extensively with the police. We give them all the details they need in order to be able to investigate what is a criminal issue," he says.

EBay is planning to introduce a new system which involves taking more personal details before allowing people on to the site.

Simon Gompertz reports
Bogus sellers are operating on the eBay site
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