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eBay shill fined £3K for bidding on his own stuff

A County Durham man is thought to be the first person to ever convicted and sentenced for fixing an online auction in the UK.

Paul Barrett was convicted of shill bidding, where a seller bids on his own items (or gets others do do it on his behalf) in order to artificially inflate the price.

It is widely thought that the practice is quite common amongst some less-honest eBayers but this is the first time a conviction has been secured.

Barret said he had no idea that bidding for his own items was illegal but the court didn't believe him and slapped him with a three grand fine and 250 hours of picking up litter in an orange boiler suit for his trouble.

eBay told the BBC it spends £6 million a year trying to prevent digital Del-Boys from hiking up prices by bidding on their own gear but admitted that it still happens.

Barrett was trying to sell a pie warmer for £127.