Austin, Tx., motorcycle thieves may have had a hand in briefly turning eBay into an online chop shop, says the Austin American-Statesman. State troopers pulled over Brandon Hay of Lubbock for a traffic offense and found that his trailer contained three stolen motorcycles. Police said that Hay, 23, sold stolen motorcycles as spare parts on eBay.
The episode is just one way the Internet has become a sort of electronic fence, says the newspaper. Experts in high-tech crime say the Internet provides a measure of anonymity. Internet crime is the fastest-growing category of crime in the U.S., said Sgt. Robert Rosenbusch, head of the Round Rock Police Department’s high-tech crime unit.
The Internet Fraud Complaint Center, a federal agency, referred 48,252 fraud complaints to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in 2002. That number includes traditional fraud as well as the sale of stolen goods. Internet auction fraud made up 46 percent of referred complaints. In November 2003, the Department of Justice launched “Operation Cyber Sweep,” which led to more than 70 indictments.
“People do things online they wouldn’t normally do in real life, and that includes fraud,” said David Steiner, president of auctionbytes.com, an online auction resource based in Massachusetts. “Law enforcement hasn’t caught up to the scammers yet.”