Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/02/15/dad_and_son_nicked/

Dad and son nicked on PlayStation 2 auction fraud charge

Online bidders beware

By Tony Smith

Posted in Media, 15th February 2001 11:55 GMT

US police yesterday arrested a father and his son, and charged the pair with selling PlayStation 2 consoles online - consoles that later turned out not to exist.

Elias Garay, 54, and Alejandro Garay, 18, his son, were officially charged with wire fraud. It is alleged that they set up online auctions on Yahoo!, Amazon.com and eBay offering PlayStation 2s they did not possess or had no intention of buying.

The Garays may not have wanted the console, but others did. In the run-up to Christmas last year, demand for PlayStation 2s was so high and supply so poor that many buyers turned to online auctions to make massive profits on consoles they had pre-ordered but had not yet received or had been lucky enough to find in stores.

Most would-be PlayStation 2 owners got the consoles they bid for. But numerous winners of auctions allegedly run by the Garays sent in their cheques or Internet-routed money transfers and received nothing in return. Complaints led to an FBI investigation.

According to a Reuters report, the Westchester County, New York District Attorney - who proffered the charges against the Garays - alleges the pair made between $400 and $700 for each non-existent PlayStation 2 they auctioned off, netting them nearly $114,000.

If convicted, the Garays face a maximum gaol sentence of five years. In addition they may have to pay a significant fine. ®

The couple told the Guardian they believed they were getting a bargain: the diamond-encrusted 18-carat gold watch they bid for costs around £25,000 when bought new. The auction holder, an 18-year-old student in Seattle, claims he was only offering his picture of the watch, which is why he ran the auction in eBay's art section.