To answer that question bluntly, Yes, you could be. If you do not know it, you should, there is a tremendous amount of online fraud committed daily. It of course is not limited to online, there are plenty of things being shop lifted, stolen from warehouses, delivery trucks, trains, cargo containers and other places.
Crooks have found that it is easier to sell these items online or sell them to someone who sells them online. I found all this information on news wesbites which you can go and as well.
Three major bills introduced Feb. 25 are the “Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009”, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the “Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009”, sponsored by Rep. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, and the “E-fencing Enforcement Act of 2009”, sponsored by Rep. Robert Scott of Virginia.
“In the midst of the deepening economic crisis, organized retail crime seems to be flourishing,” Durbin said in introducing his legislation. “Organized theft affects struggling retailers’ bottom lines at a time when they can afford it least and the resale of these stolen goods puts consumers at tremendous risk of buying tainted or outdated products. Our bill takes immediate steps to combat these crimes by making it easier to identify and prosecute offenders and strengthening the penalties for those engaging in such crimes.” Durbin Stated.
Here is one way the theft is perpetrated. Thieves steal credit card information, they place small orders with online retailers. They use the card until the credit runs out or it is reported stolen. By then it is too late, the products are shipped or already in the hands of the criminals. They place small orders because they do not drawl attention.
The credit card companies do not care because once the card is reported stolen they TAKE the money back from the poor merchant and on top of losing their money, and their merchandise, the merchant is charged a fine by Visa, MasterCard, Amex, or Discover. The merchant is the only loser in the whole situation.
The card holder is not responsible for items charged on a stolen card, the thieve does not get caught, the credit card company makes money, the online auction sites still make their money and the merchant is left paying for it all!
So now that the thief has the tanning lotion, diet pills, protein powders, i phones, or shoes in hand what is he going to do with them? Sell them on ebay, Amazon, OverStock. Pawn shops do not take all things like this and the things the do take they pay about 40% of the value of the product. However online they can be sold for retail value. It is believed there are entire criminal enterprises with accounts on these websites. Just Google “Stolen Items On Ebay” or Selling Stolen Items On Amazon”.
There are actually forums on how to sell stolen items online.
Ebay has made a policy statement “We don’t allow the sale of stolen property on eBay because it violates state, federal, and international law. We also strongly support efforts by law enforcement to investigate attempts to sell stolen property on our site. If we see this activity taking place, we’ll proactively notify law enforcement and help in their efforts to investigate and prosecute members who violate this policy. We also don’t allow members to list items with altered or removed identification numbers (serial numbers). Make sure your listing follows these guidelines. If it doesn’t, it may be removed, and you may be subject to a range of other actions, including limits of your buying and selling privileges and suspension of your account.”
Amazon and Overstock has a similar policy. Ok this will keep the honest crooks out. Amazon has problems with their own employees stealing, search for “Amazon warehouse worker stole 160,000 in electronic goods.”
So when you are shopping online and and wonder, “Why is this so cheap?” You now know that it is highly likely that it is stolen and no matter what the selling price the thief is making a 100% markup. Knowing buying stolen items is a crime, and even if the consumer does not know a item is stolen it is still morally wrong. You end up paying in the end, merchants have to raise prices to make up for stolen items and that price gets passed on to everyone.
As I mentioned it is illegal to knowingly receive stolen merchandise and if the items are discovered to be stolen they will be confiscated from you and you are out the money.
The bottom line is buy from a reputable seller or website. Check their history, if it is short and their prices are low, you should think twice about buying from them. You may be breaking the law.