eBay, FBI, Retail Federation Target Ecommerce Crime

The online auctioneer and the National Retail Federation announced plans to work with the FBI to help stamp out organized crime syndicates selling stolen goods online.

eBay and the National Retail Federation announced they will team up to identify organized crime groups responsible for stealing large amounts of merchandise and fencing them through the online auction site.

The online auction site has become a key outlet through which e-commerce marketers ranging from small and midsized businesses to far larger operations to move their wares on the Internet. But eBay has also taken a lot of heat in recent years from manufacturers, software developers and industry trade organizations for failing to do more to prevent pirates and other thieves from unloading their ill-gotten or counterfeit goods through its site.

eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) and the NRF will work together to develop technology and transaction-monitoring techniques with the FBI to put a dent in the estimated $115 billion in retail theft perpetrated last year.

"Through this partnership, NRF and eBay are putting criminals on notice that they will no longer be able to steal from retailers and abuse the online marketplace for profit," Paul Jones, eBay's global director of asset protection, said in a statement.

An NRF study completed last year found that 92 percent of retailers said they were victimized by organized retail crime and 73 percent also reported the level of organized retail crime activity had increased.

"eBay has invested in a number of new resources and is making tremendous strides assisting retailers and law enforcement with tracking illegal behavior," Joe LaRocca, a senior asset protection advisor at the NRF, said in a statement. "The partnership between NRF and eBay will create standards and best practices to stop criminals from fencing their stolen goods."

Along with improved technology and vigilance, the partners plan to meet on a regular basis to review new types of crimes and crime syndicates and work with the FBI and legislators to advocate for stronger laws and penalties for criminals.

In January, eBay and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) worked together with law enforcement to bring a notorious software pirate to justice, resulting in a 21-month prison sentence for man responsible for ripping off more than 8,000 online customers.

In 2008, the last year for which complete data was available, IDC estimated that software vendors lost more than $53 billion in sales to software pirates.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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