About 2 years ago eBay asked me to participate in a new program called Enhanced Member Reporting (EMR) for the Autograph and Entertainment categories. It was the first time in my 12 years on eBay that eBay began to take noticeable action against the proliferation of scam operations. In particular, the massive number of online autograph forgers. I recall one forger who sold an estimated 200,000-300,000 forgeries operated unscathed for about 4-5 years on eBay before they finally, after an onslaught of complaints, removed this individual from eBay. But, not before he made millions$$ and even worse flooded the autograph industry with these forgeries.
The outrageous part of this was that he was a very low level, unskilled forger. Every week he would post about 2000 forgeries on the same blue paper, and the same style forgeries of Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart and the list goes on. Of course he sold these for a tiny fraction of their value , but he didn’t care because he had no overhead except for a lot of blue paper and blue flair pens. . I know of several people that were reporting him to eBay back in the days when eBay just “looked the other way”. It was painful to see so many people/victims getting ripped off. Sure, we all hear, buyer beware and “anyone ignorant enough to buy a ridiculous fake deserves what he gets”. But, not all these inexperienced eBay buyers deserved being victimized by these eBay “crooks”. A friend of mine just wanted a special gift for his very sick son who was a big Elvis fan. He was an inexperienced eBay user and assumed everything being sold, with a COA was legitimate. It was also painful for me to have to give him the bad news about the forgery he had bought.
Meanwhile, about 5-6 years ago someone referred me to Rob Chestnut who was the VP of eBay Safe Harbor at the time. Rob was the first person I met at eBay who actually cared about this issue of blatant fraud. It was uplifting to see action finally being executed against some of the most notorious eBay autograph forgery operations. I even suspect Rob may have butted heads with executive management over this issue, because soon after the “cleanup” began, Rob was gone. And, I soon noticed my forgery reports were “falling on deaf ears” AGAIN and forgery operations began to gain new life.
The EMR program is not perfect (I still watch a forger of cartoonist art like Charles Schulz continuing to operate on a regular basis for the past 10 years). But it has been a step in the right direction. And, I will go out on a limb and say I am proud of eBay management, even if much too late, to finally be taking an active stand in circumventing many of the fraudulent operations on eBay. Even if it only amounts to a fraction of the illegal activity. Below is part of the email I received today. Note, the second most active category, Sports & Entertainment Memorabilia. I am sure you can guess what makes up about 99% of the reports for that category?
“We would like to thank your participation in the Enhanced Member Reporting (EMR) program. For 2 years now, this program has been very important in reducing items that should not be listed on eBay and has improved safety for the eBay community.
· In March, we took action on 75% of the reports submitted by members of the Enhanced Member Reporting community.
· Top Reported Categories:
o Clothing, Shoes, & Accessories
o Sports & Entertainment Memorabilia
o Jewelry, Gems, & Watches”
Meanwhile., take a look at a report I wrote about this subject a couple years ago and share with anyone you think could benefit from tips on How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off on eBay or other online sources. . .