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US gets heavy with suspected eBay scamsters

Punters say they sent money, but never received goods

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US authorities have arrested one man and indicted another suspected of fleecing customers on eBay.

The two cases are unrelated - the first involves Californian George Arthur Cruz, who was arrested yesterday and charged with 13 counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. Cruz, also known as Richard Cortez, is accused of defrauding 40 users of the online auction site out of around $76,000.

He allegedly auctioned items such as laptops and camera kit, but never shipped the merchandise. He faces a spell in jail of up to 75 years if convicted.

The second man, Hen Ben Haim, was indicted last week in a similar case, but has still not been tracked down by police. Haim, also known as Shay Albaz, is accused of defrauding more than 200 eBay bidders out of $32,000 - again, he allegedly auctioned computers and other items, pocketed the money, but never delivered the goods.

An Israeli citizen whose visa has expired, he faces charges of eight cases of mail fraud and up to 40 years in jail if convicted.

"It's an old-fashioned fraud using new technology: promising products and not delivering," assistant US attorney Dorothy Shubin told AP. "But using the Internet gives the defendants the ability to reach victims all across the country."

In related news, eBay will this week kick off its first TV advertising campaign. The ads are expected to run on TV shows such as NBC's Saturday Night Live and CBS' Late Night with David Letterman, and are meant to distance eBay from the dotcom malaise. ®

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