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online auction fixer faces £50k fine

14 May 2010

Paul Barrett, the first person convicted in the UK of making sham bids on eBay, could be fined £50,000 after pleading guilty to 10 charges under consumer protection laws.

Barrett, a 39 year old minibus driver from County Durham, had engaged in “shill bidding” – the online practice of using a different username to bid on your own auctions.

In pleading guilty Mr Barrett said that he had not realised that bidding on his own items was a criminal offence.

Mr Barrett is due to be sentenced at Bradford County Court on 21 May where he faces fines up to a maximum of £5,000 for each of the 10 offences.

This will no doubt act as a strong deterrent to other unscrupulous traders and should provide some consolation to those who have paid over the odds.

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