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eBay Shill Bidder Fined £5,000

A UK court has fined a man £5,000 for 'shill bidding' - artificially inflating the prices of the products he put up for auction - on online retail service eBay.

Paul Barrett drive up prices by bidding on his own ebay auctions using two accounts he created using the same IP address and contact details, the court said.

Trading Standards initiated an investigation into the matter after an eBay user complained that he had purchased a minibus at what seemed an inflated price, and a false low mileage.

In a statement to IT news web site The Register, Vanessa Canzini, a spokesperson for eBay, said: “While this case was not solely about shill bidding, we hope that it highlights how seriously we consider the practise of artificially increasing prices.”

The company also said that it invests $6 million every year to detect incidents of shill bidding on the platform. eBay said that this was the first such case in the UK.

Bradford Crown court judge Peter Benson fined Barrett £5,000 and ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service.

Sentencing Barret, the judge said: "Had you had previous convictions for dishonesty, the result would have been a custodial sentence. This sort of conduct strikes at the heart of that trust which is vital if this very, very useful commercial medium is to continue to operate successfully."