eScam, The Internet Fraud Game
By Michael M. Edelstein
The information highway is being used to sell fakes and defraud the public. How or why would a Canadian, from Vancouver BC, out of the blue, would start to attack me continuously for almost a decade.... a person I had never heard of?
When the Internet exploded and then became more commercialized, Internet auctions started to take off in 1998. Calabresi used many of his collecting contacts, some prominent museum officials in Austria, and other high level collectors to create a very clever shell game to sell copies. Christian Ortner Head of Collections for the Arsenal Museum in Wein was a close friend of Calabresi and helped him act as a middle man to find friends to help sell Hungarian copies on the Internet.
In 1993, Paulus pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in stolen vehicles in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and sale or receipt of stolen vehicles in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2313. Prior to sentencing, Paulus absconded and remained a fugitive until his arrest on May 31, 1994 (Royal Oak, Michigan). In July 1994, Paulus entered a new guilty plea to the same two counts. The district court sentenced Paulus to 63 months of imprisonment. Paulus did not file a direct appeal.
Gottlieb and several others influenced the publisher of Don Chalif's world aviation badge book, Ron Bender of San Jose, one of the largest and most prominent militaria publishers in the United States to harass me when I sent several letters of inquiry regarding a gamut of questions about how Chalif researched his book: where Chalif acquired many of the badges and information that was provided in his book. Bender also linked several websites to sell Hungarian copies and recommended them to his on-line readers. The links were to a Florida dealer and an Irish militaria website. This, from a so-called publisher who wanted to help collectors not get burned!
Further, Gottlieb influenced the MAX collecting organization to also use the same links that Bender also provided to websites selling Hungarian copies. I have sent numerous letters of complaint to these groups which were ignored. I received a terse response that they couldn't do anything even though I presented a large amount of proof, detailing the copies from the Florida dealers site. Compounding the problem is that the Florida dealer claims that he is only selling many of the copies as consignment. MAX would not pull the links to the fraudulent sites from their collecting or organization's web page.
One story seems to blend into the other as the Internet grew as an information source. My story expands into 2003 and into 2004 when I published my second collecting Internet fraud story. I found that many of the people that harassed and purchased WWI items were forum participants and were organized by the Austrian museum director to help the Hungarian and a dealer form Ohio. I also realized that the director in question was the front in 1999 supposedly from Munich selling WWI Austrian copies on eBay: receiving auction email in Wein but sending the copies to yet another front and having the product posted from Munich. Further, the director had set a series of websites to expand his slant on WWI Austro-Hungarian history and help influence the market place, by expanding his published work with copies and planting misleading or false information. To hide the true authorship of the site, he uses friends and cronies from Europe to post published work and supposedly host the site. The fact that the Hungarian and Austrian and many forum members are anti-Semitic and haters also motivates these individuals to the almost decade long harassment campaign.
The Internet has become the latest in a series of fast track and highly innovative ways to buy and sell almost anything. One of the most prominent and established of these on line auctions is called eScam. Many on line auctions have literally opened the world to collectors and dealers and in the process it has become a venue that some individuals love and hate in equal measure. Many would recommend Internet auctions for its fast service and large selection of items, seemingly a buyer’s paradise. That is not to say, it is not without flaws, in fact rife with fraud and deception. Some sellers appear to be making a nice living offering an endless supply of reproductions as original items on the Internet.
The reality is that you will find a similar state of affairs in all venues, some better and others much worst - other auctions, gun and militaria shows, and direct sales from dealers. eScam is not the worst of venues, it is simply the most visible and so too are its flaws. eScam has grown immensely and so has its censorship and violations of user’s nominal rights, ever increasing fee schedule and decreasing, deteriorating service.
The eScam Internet collectibles auctions that I have encountered are controlled by several groups that are deliberately operating to defraud the public. Their premiere site is on eScam, why you may ask - it has the major buyer market share on the Internet and to the world. One American, who lives in Budapest with a lengthy criminal record for fraud, is responsible for making and distributing well over 25% of the copies that are currently being sold on the Internet and other auctions today. According to a federal law enforcement official in Budapest, the American copy king who is currently operating in Hungary was convicted of the following criminal charges in the United States: "larceny from interstate shipment, conspiracy & traffic in stolen vehicles for an interstate auto theft ring.” This series of events were spot lighted on the television program, America’s Most Wanted. He was captured on May 31, 1994, in Royal Oak, Michigan (this means he was on the FBI’s ten most wanted list in 1994). The American has a lengthy list of prior arrests and he is an experienced con man. The embassy official claims that most of the crimes that he had committed were regarding fraud involving militaria, military medals, and transport of stolen cars.
According to the public record the Hungarian National Police have already investigated the copy king, a search warrant was obtained and he was arrested in Hungary and briefly detained for selling and shipping military ordnance (machine gun parts). The items in question were investigated at his home in Buda but nothing was ever done and he was released without being charged. Tragically theirs a loop hole in Hungarian law as long as the ammunition is inert, even though it has all the working parts, functional fuse, primer, shell, and projectile are intact, it’s not illegal in to own or posses those items in Hungary.
The provider of many of the military ordnance items that Nevada Smith sells on the Internet are from a Dutch dealer. He supposedly sells his wares in the USA in the state of Virginia and then in the UK. He actually sells and lists his items from Holland and an advanced Austro-Hungarian collector with strong Italian connections fronts his payments in the state of Virginia. The Dutchman actually stores ordnance items at certain drop points in Belgium and the UK, where it is legal to hold such items. He then ships the items from these locations when he receives his payments from his Virginia drop point in the USA.
This copy ring is apparently making "supposedly" large profits on the Internet from this very clever scam with copies and ordnance materials sometimes $1,000.00 or up to $4,000.00 a week on his on line eScam auction site. My research convinced me that many of his sales where spurious and the seller had operated under many different Internet auction IDs and in doing so he had purchased from this own account and posted feedback for many transactions.
The shilling of prices plays a very important role in the eScam selling operation. It could work one of three ways; first you bid the price up against genuine bidders to see just how far they will go. After the auction the seller mails the low bidders to see if they are interested in buying at his inflated price as the top bidder has declined and can not pay or complete the auction.
The second tactic that is employed is to have a friend email the loser of the auction and says, "I've got one of those, I was watching the auction and saw the price, and I’ll sell you mine for less". The seller gets his auction fee’s back, as the top bidder did not complete the transaction. The seller gains feedback points and a high sales track record.
Third, you sell privately. You advertise the item for sale and use the old, "the last one sold on the Internet for routine." I only want XX for mine, that way; they could sell the same item to everyone who replies. The buyers aren't likely to get together to compare the privately offered item, no problems with the auction authorities and no recourse for the buyer, if he is dissatisfied. It's an old con, working on someone’s greed: getting something rare and valuable for half the price.
The Austro-Hungarian Connection
I was contacted in late 1999 by an advanced insignia collector from the east coast of the USA who claimed he found my eScam auctions by mistake but requested information on copies from Hungary. This advanced collector’s main focus is airborne insignia and he influenced me to start investigating the Internet. It seems that many advanced collectors are behind the scenes supplying original and rare Austro-Hungarian medals, orders, and badges to be copied in Hungary. One lives in Italy, one in Wein, several in Virginia, and another in Ohio. One Hungarian authority claims, "both of the Hungarian collections comprise the largest and most impressive array of Austro-Hungarian military badges in Europe and America.” Another advanced Hungarian military collector is a Canadian and makes regular trips to Budapest to buy bags of copies to sell on the Internet. The Hungarian distributes copies internationally via second and third parties, who sell on Internet auctions and various web sites. The main organizer of this large copy network is the head of collections of an Austrian military museum and acts as a middle man setting up deals between various parties to sell and distribute fakes and to also buy legitimate collectables.
According to a reputable source in Vancouver BC, who owns a collector reproduction business states, "he has his fingers into everything and used to run a militaria collectors store, he now owns a movie prop business and also sells knock off CD’s made in Hungary, even steroids and Marijuana. He has two or three cell phones and is always trying to make or put together a deal involving items that he has imported from Hungary.”
Several sources of harassment had a PO box in Falls Church Virginia at the same post office. The Virginian had an Italian name and was connected to the navy, he was also connected to a large ordnance collection of WWI weapons and to one of the most advanced and respected collectors in Italy. All these forces help create copies from their collections, set up hundreds of selling and buying shills on the Internet and used this same system to harass me.
Is eScam Safe
eScam assures the public with their feedback program and safe harbor (now called simply the Security Center) team the user will be treated fairly and action will be taken against any offender of the auction guidelines. This was not the case in my situation. I had observed over several months, a seller supposedly from Munich (a friend of the museum director who acts as a middleman to trade in fakes) auctioning a gamut of Hungarian copies. I emailed the German sellers and asked directly if they knew the maker of the copy items, further whether they had purchased these items in Hungary. I never received a response from the German’s, however I did receive several emails from a Canadian, ten days after contacting the German sellers. The Canadian claimed, “I was selling very creative items on eScam.”
Shortly after The Canadian’s mail I started to receive on line harassment against my Internet auctions. The harassment began with numerous bid interference operations via the eScam mail system, using their open email address and user IDs. One scheme was to place bids on my auctions and leave negative feedback, another involved a supposed "Antique Traders Guild" that emailed all my bidders stating I was guilty of mail fraud and under investigation by the FBI. Several spurious buyers who placed bids on my auctions then contacted all my prior bidders stating, "that I was a crook and ripping people off on the Internet."
Two of my buyers who were harassed reported the bid interference to the auction management directly. I also forwarded complaints from my buyers and demanded action, including a follow up complaint. eScam never responded regarding my complaints or any of my buyer’s complaints. eScam never took any action against the offenders of this constant on line harassment over a three year period. After I received threats of bodily injury and even death threats from this group, eScam claimed, "that this was private mail, if you feel threatened go to local law enforcement in your area." As far as eScam was concerned, this gang of Internet trouble makers could act with virtual impunity.
As soon as I listed an item to be auctioned that interfered with or competed with the copy group’s material, usually German decorations, or any kind of ordnance item, immediate hate mail and aggressive bidding activity against my auctions took place. Then the copy group would list an item similar to mine or a copy item and knock my item in their auction description. The copy group would have their auctioned item bid up usually over double retail value of the auctioned item.
One eScam power seller who is one of the copy rings main organizers, engaged in direct bid interference with one of my buyers on several auctions. The buyer had previously purchased a $500.00 item from the copy seller. He told my buyer, "he was keeping his money and sending the buyer nothing, because he was bidding on my auctions.” We both reported the auction interference to eScam. No response was ever received regarding our complaints from eScam and no action taken was ever taken against this seller.
Out of frustration with the eScam process and with no results with the auction management. I set out to obtain whatever satisfaction I could get. I decided to investigate this group and their dealings on and off the Internet. I spent hours going through all of the seller's feedback and checking every transaction they had completed. I sent several messages to the bidders of the main instigator of the harassment campaign and the main copy distributor in the US. I was convinced further that these bidders were shills and or friends of the seller.
I copied the supposed buyers on my entire research report. In less then 24 hours after writing the mail to the seller and his supposed buyers, eScam finally responded to me, but not regarding the hundreds of complaints that I had filed regarding harassment that was directed against my auctions. The auction authorities claimed they were banning me permanently from eScam for bid interference and scaring buyers off.
I learned five things from this experience: first, eScam will suspend members for violating its procedural rules (e.g., bid interference or non payment of fee’s) and then only in certain circumstances. Many decisions are made arbitrarily or seemingly on the whim or mood of the safeharbor team, eScam began to change their polices and replaced there grass roots do it yourself program with a corporate mentality. Many auctions guidelines are to protect their corporation from even the slightest hint of a conflict or a law suit. However, not for fraud or harassment - feedback, eScam believes, will take care of this problem.
Second: I learned that I the victim had to do all of the detective work.
Third: If the reported parties are "power sellers" and generating a lot of income via the ever increasing eScam fee system, they are not likely to take action and in my case, even suspend the victim who is not a big earner. Even if you can prove fraud or bid interference, they hesitate in taking action. eScam claims you have no proof. However, eScam still collects the fees! This corporate greed mentality became an ever increasing issue. eScam since the publication of this article in 2003 has increased there fee's annually 300 percent over a four year period. Further, added new fee's to existing selling options i.e. "Buy It Now" which used to be free is now charged as a selling option, the fee's go up depending on the price etc.
Fourth: The feedback system works towards the corporation’s goal of higher revenue by providing a point system. Both buyers and sellers are entranced with gaining points and lose sight of the objective of any auction, to gain a fair market value or higher on the auctioned item. If an auctioned item sells at the start price, even if the seller loses money on the auctioned item, the seller is still obligated to go through with the sale. The incentive is gaining positive feedback and another point from the buyer. Just like in the casino, where the odds are heavily in the casino’s favor. People who gamble are only losing or gaining chips not money. The occasional winner inspires even more people to lose.
Fifth: I learned how misleading feedback can be........ In fact almost all of the leading figures in this Internet fraud game, have almost perfect feedback.
Feedback: Not Worthless - But Almost
eScam places great faith in its feedback system as a means of protecting its users, both buyers and sellers. I find this faith naive and self-serving. It is naive because while the feedback system may work well to alert bidders and sellers to individuals who renege on bids or on delivery of winnings, it fails miserably in those cases where copies and fakes are misrepresented as genuine. The reason for this is simple: individuals withhold feedback until receipt of payment or the item. If payment or item is not received, then feedback is available as a recourse. If the bidder is unhappy with what he has received, and if the seller allows him to return the item, then rarely will the bidder post any feedback, let alone negative feedback, even if the item was obviously misrepresented. If, on the other hand, the item meets the bidder's expectations, positive feedback is usually posted soon after receipt of the auctioned item.
It is clear from the many bogus and misrepresented items that bidders are buying that many bidders are not knowledgeable (else they would not have bid), and it may be weeks or months - perhaps years - long after they have posted glowingly positive feedback, before they learn that what they purchased is a copy, fake or forgery. By then feedback is no longer a recourse, because once feedback is posted, it is chiseled in stone: it may not be changed. It is for this reason that there are eScam sellers who, in my opinion, routinely misrepresent the items they sell whose feedback fails utterly to reflect this fact. This is why positive feedback can be misleading.
However, negative feedback can also be misleading. The harassment group deliberately bid on my auctions with shill bidders and then placed negative feedback. They left the negative comments the day after the auction closed, the comments were not true and intentionally damaging. Some admitted in several open and hostile emails, that it was done to annoy, hinder and harass, in complete violation of eScam’s rules. I proceeded to the auctions safeharbor team, who never responded regarding my complaints. Many of the negative comments made on the feedback profile are merely retaliatory, mostly for non-payment of auctioned goods.
eScam's faith in the effectiveness of the feedback system is self-serving because it relieves eScam of having to deal with the problems it purports the feedback system to address. eScam, ignores its stated guidelines as long as they can make a profit and from what I know, wants no part of disputes involving authenticity. While I can understand the auctions view to a degree - it would cost time and money (adding expert staff) to adjudicate such transactional disputes - I cannot agree with it because the feedback system as it now is structured leaves bidders with no effective recourse.
The First Amendment Protects Opinions; Whether eScam Does Is Another Story
As the British statesman Edmund Burke once said, "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing...."
When I first became aware of Internet auctions in 1999 eScam and their policies were fairly liberal and they were responsive to the general user in dealing with most situations. As eScam grew however and the French law suit against Yahoo Internet Auctions deepened to the US courts in early 2000, eScam began to change their polices. eScam decided to add and then change many rules and guidelines to suit. This limited what one could sell and say on eScam auctions. The "ME" page was set up to share your experiences on the auction web site, it included your most recent ten feedback comments. I told my story with great gusto, as I always wanted to be self employed. I decided to document some of the events of the harassment on my "ME" page, no contact or user ID’s were to published.
I felt I could make my case via the auction system with the “ME“ page, in particular recent negative feedback that the harassment gang had left for me. I documented the abuse a Canadian buyer had created with my eScam experience and mocked his user ID. After weeks of fighting with the auction administration, they agreed to remove the multiple negative feedbacks and suspended the buyer who posted the remarks. I then promptly withdrew my comments regarding the harassment from my "ME" page and resumed selling. eScam’s ever growing censorship will no longer allow this to happen. A new auction selling policy was established in May 2000, it began with a mandatory disclaimer, that you can’t sell any W.W.II German items to certain countries, and an Internet block to countries in western Europe.
In May 2002, I updated my "ME" page and added a small paragraph regarding a group that created and made copies. Several weeks later, I added a sentence that mocked the copy kings name. At no time did I publish contact information or a real user ID. I added a disclaimer in parenthesizes, “the listed names or user IDs, weren’t their real names.”
An immediate email arrived from eScam that stated, “immediate action is required, my comments had been noted and that they have recently become aware of a violation of the auction user agreement. I had to take down my comments about the copy group and the harassment, you need to change your ME page within 48 hours or eScam would take action on my account. Listing further that I had to edify my own account, and I was publicly publishing contact information and I must change my auction ME page due to privacy issues.” eScam then sent me another brief note and a link regarding a suggestion box for their auction site, that didn’t address any of my issues and seemed to be a pre-programmed, canned response. eScam threatened further action against my account, regarding the auction privacy guidelines.
Under threat of being banned for life, I took down the mocking names. I wonder what privacy issues eScam was really worried about, was it the privacy to organize an international scam or to harass and hinder my every auction? I think it is more accurate to say, privacy for the auction to collect their ever growing fees that were being generated by the offended party. Their privacy rules favor the dishonest to continue operating dishonestly. Sure you can have a "ME" page on eScam and speak your mind, but only if it conforms to their ever changing rules, your comments are positive, agree with eScam’s thinking, and no one complains. In August 2002, eScam took down my “ME” page and claimed that I was misusing their system.
eScam could care less about my rights or the barrage of harassment and abuse from the sellers of these fakes who used the Internet like a battering ram of psychological warfare against me. eScam is only concerned with their profit margin, it was easier and much more profitable to keep me quiet and then ban me, then respect their own rules or my rights.
A Conspiracy of Elders
One was a well known author of Polish pilot’s in the PAF during the Second World War. One is an advanced Hungarian collector in the USA, he is held in high esteem by many collectors and has one of the largest Hungarian militaria collections in the world. This Hungarian’s name is featured in many prominent books on collecting militaria. A Captain in the National Guard was so forceful in his threats of abuse and bodily injury that I went to the police, his full time occupation? He was a history teacher at a Military School in Indiana. Another was a full Commander in the US Navy, an Annapolis graduate no less! Another is a high ranking member of a Ohio collecting society and is noted for his supposed honesty. Several are owners and creators of well known websites on German WWII awards and daggers. In fact I have come to learn that the creators are the people who are responsible in large part to have moderators and other high level people who participate on their forums to harass me. One was a well known publisher in San Jose.
Several advanced collectors who are involved in the copy trade are hosting Internet militaria forums. One is a W.W.I Austro-Hungarian forum; the creator is an authority on Austrian militaria and has written a series of books on the subject of Austrian awards, decorations, and aviation badges. Many who tune into militaria forums are working with the copy network to keep tabs on what people are saying about fakes and their distribution on the Internet. Many who make and distribute copies are friends of the forum creators who control these forums and what is written and published on-line. Any deep disclosure on the copy network is crushed with criticism or simply deleted. I was personally blocked from two forums for going public about what I know about several large scale copy groups operation.
One example of an advanced militaria collector participating in the Internet fraud game and who is a leading authority on military dagger collecting lives in Tacoma, Washington. One of a hand full that is noted in his field for knowledge and expertise, in fact a well known moderator of an on line militaria forum. Daggerman is also a leading expert at the Internet auction shell game and was fundamental in creating this on line scheme.
Daggerman knew how to work the system early on and registered to eScam in 1996 under various names. His many buying and selling aliases all seem to lead to the same Tacoma, WA, PO Box or addresses that are in the upper Washington state area. One supposed mail order firm has a free web page advertisement, supplied by "Net Scape." When I repeatedly clicked on the link it wouldn’t function and a pop message read, "the server had been re-set and that the link was not working.” I was able to pull this information from his Net Scape ad:
"This company possesses over forty years of direct experience in the antique field. Our specific knowledge of W.W.I and W.W.II militartia, steiff stuffed animals and Lladro figures. Our company holds two (2) Federal Firearms Licenses to assist in resolving any related client shipping/shipping difficulties. To inquire about any specific sales item, or to receive a no charge estimate of the value of an items you are wishing to sell, please contact us." Their is no web page, just an email address.
I sent several emails to the firm and after six weeks I received a strange and vague response from the sales manager of the company regarding their business. The response claimed that, "they are only involved in selling smoking related items, pipes, tabacco etc., and that they only buy the occasional Nazi related item for their collection."
Several auction sellers have sent items directly to Daggerman to this business address, in the Burlington, Washington area. I felt that the mail was generated from Daggerman himself and not from the supposed mail order company. I also discovered that Burlington, WA, is a short drive to Vancouver, BC.
Daggerman regularly sells copies of all descriptions on the Internet under a host of different user ID’s, both buying and selling. He specializes in Iron Crosses and copy military daggers. One auction that I had observed listed a copy Hungarian naval dagger; he first lists the dagger as a rare Romanian River Forces dagger. The supposed Internet selling location is from Liechtenstein, the seller had a zero rated feedback profile. The sole bidder was Daggerman, the auction was closed by eScam and the seller banned within 24 hours of the start of the auction.
Two days later, another dagger auction is up with yet another zero feedback rated profile seller. This time the seller is listed from the US. The auctioned item is the same dagger with the same description and the same bidder, Daggerman as the prior closed auction. The dagger is obviously a copy with molded parts with casting marks and bad workmanship. Why would someone who is so experienced be biding on such an item?
The eScam Video Game: A Poor Man's Paradise
Does eScam create false expectations for sellers, are sellers getting value for their money? Are their serious buyers willing to axially follow through with purchasing the item after the auction is over? When you list an item to be auctioned on eScam, the seller has the “expectation” that it will be bid up or at least bid on. Most sellers start their auctions considerably below market value to inspire and encourage interest and ultimately have the auction bid up by buyers. However, most buyers deliberately don’t bid when they see an item that interests them on eScam, hoping to get the auctioned item for next to nothing after the auction closes. Many times when I have refused post auction offers the buyers have become angry, rude or even threatening in their comments.
It works like a video game, instead of money, its feedback points, or how many bids the auction is generating, even if the auctioned item is selling far below market value. It is like gambling, you hope to break the bank, and instead you go home with nothing. Most sellers make a token profit or lose money. A perfect example of this is Nevada Smith shilling his own auctions to extremely high levels.
Do your homework before bidding. I suspect that I was typical of many auction members in that there have been numerous occasions when I have stumbled upon an intriguing item, one that caught my fancy but that was outside my expertise. Often I have queried the seller about the item, and his response seemed entirely satisfactory, even knowledgeable. Then I have turned to the network of contacts that I have developed during twenty years of collecting insignia and related artifacts, and I have sought an expert's opinion. It is amazing, and frightening, how many times I have learned that what I found so attractive was misrepresented, a reproduction, or over-priced. What I have learned time and time again is that, invariably, one is at risk when one ventures beyond one's expertise.
Learn what is a reasonable value for the item. Whenever I see a book on an Internet auction that interests me, I go to one of the web sites for used booksellers, and I check the book's availability and prevailing price. I recall once having seen on eScam a book sell for more than $90 which I found offered by a used bookseller, same edition in equivalent condition, for $20. More and more dealers are using the Internet to move their wares.
Know the seller. Examine his feedback. If there is negative or neutral feedback, contact the person who posted it and ask for details. Look also at the way such feedback is expressed: sellers and bidders who are jerks tend to advertise the fact. Do not interpret feedback that is all positive as a clean bill of health! Pull up the seller's offerings for the past 30 days and go through them one by one. By examining what he sells, you will get a feel for the quality of his offerings and, often, for his honesty. If the return policy is vague, contact the seller and ask for a clear statement of it. If aspects of the item are not clear in the description or image, pin down the specifics by email before bidding.
eScam won’t protect you, so protect yourself! eScam has become completely out of touch with the average user, the initial grass roots Internet auction concept is merely a profitable illusion for both buyers and sellers. The values that were supposed to counter corporate culture and restrictions on what you could say, buy, or sell on line, instead have become another outlet for corporate greed and profits. eScam’s ever present corporate code and restrictive policies and fee’s are increasing, but their service and initial grass roots on line auction values are vastly decreasing.
The tragedy here is that eBay was one of the few Internet success stories to come out of the dot-com boom of the late 1990's, this is no longer true. It is now just another corporate money machine. It appears that many others have joined the anti-eBay band wagon as it is just to expensive to operate with the ever increasing fee's and lack of any integrity of the on-line auction. eBay is just a website, if you wish to sell cost effectively on-line, build your own site! When eBay raised their fee structure in 2004, the stock price decreased to $34.00 a share, from a high of $117.00 a share. eBay's stock price per share has decreased over the years to an all time low of $27.00. The stock price is the value of the company that is sold to the public. The CEO Meg Whitman sold off her shares in 2001, and 2002, becoming enormously wealthy. I find it interesting that Ms. Whitman is now resigning as CEO of eBay as of June 2007.
I have contacted many individuals and several organizations that are involved in this story by email and in writing to include the president and CEO of the Internet auction in question and Bender Publishing (who harassed me on instructions from the creator of the leading German awards and dagger sites.) Several prominent on-line militaria forums were contacted regarding this article, all refused to comment, except for one. The one response I did receive from the forums creator was rude and did not address any of my issues.
Authors Note: The French Anti-Nazi League sued Yahoo in the French courts in 1999 and won the case in Paris. The League then tried to enforce the French legal victory in the US courts on Yahoo USA. The League lost the case and appealed the verdict all the way to the US Supreme Court in 2001. The US Supreme Court ruled that French law and legal rulings have no legal standing in the USA and have no bearing on the running of US based companies. The problem is that the internet is world wide, what may be legal in one country may be illegal in another. This makes an Internet auction law suit difficult to enforce. It's estimated that this court case cost Yahoo something in the region of twenty million dollars. eScam took the easy way out and banned all the "Nazi" items, amazingly after the League lost both court cases in the US Supreme Court and the French High Court. eScam also blocks any WWII militaria item from view in western Europe.
However, the international law suit against Yahoo and the Nazi collectibles issue doesn't stop eScam from cheating its partners. According to the public record at least five law suits against eScam have been filed for not paying their partners royalties or other payments due them in the last three years. As long as eScam can benefit or profit they are willing to take the risk of legal action but won't risk it for the sake of the seller’s rights or the first amendment.