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 Police Blotter  
Ticket Sales Fraudster Gets Caught
February 5, 2006 - Toledo, OH. Mark West sold USD$200,000 worth of Ohio State University vs. University of Michigan football game tickets, as well as Daytona 500 tickets and didn't deliver a single one. The week of the OSU and Michigan game, West disappeared and was later found in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he was arrested on January 14. Some victims paid as much as USD$200 per ticket. Acting on an internal escalation, an eBay-PayPal Fraud Investigator initiated this case with the Ohio Attorney General's Office (AGO) by providing information on West as well as finding monetary resolution for the victims via PayPal's Buyer Protection Program. The Investigator maintained constant communication with the AGO for purposes of tracking West. The charges against West include telecommunications fraud and theft by deception. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

eBay-PayPal Fraud Investigator Helps Put Away Child Pornographer
January 28, 2006 - Dublin, VA. Thirty-eight-year-old Gregory Mitchel profited from a child pornography website and allegedly had sexual relations with a minor. Mitchel assisted the minor in creating a pornography website in which members were charged USD$29.95 per month. In September of 2005, FBI agents raided Mitchel's home and recovered more than 600 pornographic images of children. It is estimated that hundreds of people subscribed to the child pornography site Mitchell created. Upon receiving a subpoena from FBI, an eBay-PayPal Fraud Investigator alerted the FBI of additional accounts that they were not already aware of. Mitchel signed a plea agreement and was indicted on six federal charges. He is awaiting sentencing at this time.

Members of International Fraud Ring Arrested
January 23, 2006 - Bourgas, Bulgaria. A group of eight Bulgarian teenagers fraudsters (and the parent of one of the teens) were arrested for bilking eBay and PayPal users of over USD$50,000 worth of merchandise. The scam involved the creation of phishing web sites impersonating eBay and PayPal that solicited members for their credit card information and other personal information. The fraudsters then used the compromised credit card information to purchase expensive clothes, electronics and software. The eBay-PayPal Trust & Safety Team assisted law enforcement in this case by providing critical information.

Operation "Cyber-Chase" Leads to Multiple Arrests
February 3, 2006 - Philadelphia, PA. A year-long joint effort among multiple law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest of 20 people involved in an international drug ring on April 19, 2005. The investigation, dubbed operation "Cyber-Chase," targeted an international group of pharmaceutical traffickers. A couple of the suspects in the drug ring were two foreign university students, Akhil Bansal and Matthew Melao, who sold controlled narcotics, steroids and amphetamines online without prescription. The ring allegedly sold drugs to more than 200 web sites. The drugs were made in India and Hungary and included popular prescription drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin. Trial date for Bansal and Melao were set for February 14. The charges they are facing include drug distribution conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and unlawful distribution of prescription drugs. An eBay-PayPal Fraud Investigator provided information on dozens of accounts and provided money flow profiles to law enforcement.

Gift Card Scammers Halted
January 21, 2006 - Appleton, WI. Kelly and Steven Groat sold gift cards on eBay and did not deliver them to the buyers. The husband and wife team sold the gift cards below face value and then used the money from current sales to pay off older transactions. Users were bilked out of USD$78,000 total. eBay has taken steps to reduce the amount of gift card fraud by placing a limit on the number of gift card sales. Steven Groat was scheduled for sentencing on January 31. Kelly Groat was ordered to pay restitution over the next 10 years of her probation.

Auction Fraudster Arrested
November 20, 2005 - Tyler, TX. Aaron Betts sold various items on eBay, mostly iPods, but never delivered them. After receiving several complaints from eBay members, an eBay-PayPal Fraud Investigator initiated this case with the Tyler Police Department. Betts was arrested on November 20, 2005 and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to two years in jail.