Monday’s Wall Street Journal story on eBay fraud investigators shows that despite the rising number of victims and losses, law enforcement isn’t exactly making these kinds of fraud investigations a priority.
Before reading the closing paragraphs you need a quick bit of background on the subject of the story:
NORWALK, Calif. – One of eBay Inc.’s official tenets is that “people are basically good.” George Fawrup wants to find the eBay users who are altogether bad.
For the last 2 1/2 years, Mr. Fawrup, a veteran California police detective, has been battling one of the Internet era’s signature crimes: online-auction fraud. Most of the fraudsters use eBay, the Internet’s biggest auction site, and they get craftier by the yearMany of Fawrup’s most unusual cases are covered in the rest of the artcile. As the story closes we learn that Fawrup has been reassigned. It’s where he’s being reassigned that will floor you.
Mr. Fawrup’s experience with Internet-auction fraud has made him a resource for other members of law enforcement. Last year, he says, a police officer in Redondo Beach, Calif., called to say that a local citizen spotted his stolen bicycle for sale on eBay. The officer wanted to know how he should pursue the thief. Mr. Fawrup’s advice: Bid on the bike. The officer won the auction and arrested the seller when he went to pick up the bicycle, Mr. Fawrup says.
Come September, Mr. Fawrup will be on a new antifraud beat. He’s been reassigned to a unit in Commerce, Calif., that investigates people who try to redeem empty cans, bottles and plastic from out of state. The project director of the high-tech crimes task force, Lt. Rick Craigo, says Mr. Fawrup will be replaced. But both men agree their numbers are still too few to catch most Internet evildoers. Says Mr. Fawrup: “I’ve been able to do so little.”Brilliant bureaucracy strike again…