Accused of Running a Shell Auction? A NY Defense Lawyer Explains The Crime
In 2012, more than $175 billion in commerce occurred on the popular auction website eBay. CNBC reported that the CEO was projecting the site would enable $300 billion in commerce in 2015. The majority of auctions on eBay are legitimate auctions that allow buyers and sellers to connect and sell items ranging from autos to electronics to collectibles. Some auctions, however, are shell auctions created for the purpose of misleading buyers.
While eBay has buyer and seller protections in place, there is still room for fraud scams to be run using this popular auction site. eBay as well as other online auctions makes it possible for people to obtain money and information from buyers and, in some cases, this opportunity is misused. Federal and state authorities may conduct investigations when online auction sites are allegedly the site of criminal activity and authorities may pursue legal action against you if they suspect you are breaking the law through eBay auction scams or other auction fraud crimes.
If you are accused of any type of auction fraud offenses, including running shell auctions, it is imperative you get legal help so you can defend yourself, try to stay out of prison, and avoid having authorities seize assets or require restitution. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC can provide you with legal assistance if you need help responding to criminal charges and fighting allegations that you operated a shell auction.
What is a Shell Auction?
A shell auction is an auction that is created with no merchandise for sale. The purpose of the shell auction is to obtain funds from the buyer for a “purchase” transaction that is never completed or to obtain personal identifying information from a buyer such as credit card details.
Shell auction scams can take many forms including:
- Wire transfer scams. An auction is set up, a buyer bids on and wins an “item” that does not actually exist, and the buyer wires the money. Since there was no merchandise for sale, the buyer receives nothing and the seller keeps the funds.
- Escrow service scams. A buyer is the winning bidder on a shell auction. The buyer is told to send money to an escrow service. However, the escrow service is not actually legitimate. The buyer’s money may be kept by the fake escrow service and no product sent. In some cases, buyers are asked to provide bank accounts, credit cards, or other financial details to the “escrow service.” These details can then be used to access accounts and move money without authorization.
- Non-delivery scams/ failure to ship merchandise. Buyers pay for products and sellers never send the items to the buyer.
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Penalties for Running a Shell Auction
Running a shell auction may be considered a form of larceny (theft) since money is being taken from the buyer. When the Internet, the postal service, or a wire transfer service is used to solicit bids, request funds, or obtain money, those involved in the shell auction scam could be charged with the federal offenses of wire fraud, mail fraud, and/or bank fraud. If the purpose of the scam is to unlawfully access and utilize credit card or financial information, the shell auction scam could result in criminal charges for fraud in connection with identifying documents.
Any and all of these criminal offenses are very serious ones. Mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud alone will each carry maximum penalties of 20-30 years imprisonment while larceny and identity theft are both generally considered felony offenses in New York state depending upon the amount of money involved in the scam.
A NY Defense Lawyer Represents Those Accused of Shell Auction Scams
You can defend yourself when accused of running a shell auction or accused of involvement with a shell auction scam. There may be times when there is insufficient proof you broke the law, or when you intended to send an item but unforeseen circumstances prevented it.
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC can provide legal guidance and advice to help those accused of running a shell auction. We will work hard to help you avoid being convicted of a crime or reduce possible penalties that could follow a guilty verdict. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.