The E-Fencing of Stolen Goods is a $40 Billion Dollar a Year Criminal Enterprise!
Most of us purchase used computers, electronics and digital cameras for the foremost reason that the item can be purchased for a lesser amount than new units and most have enough functionality to do everything we need the item to do. When making such purchases online and from flea-markets, swap meets, garage sales etc., there is a high degree of risk of purchasing an item that has been reported as being lost or stolen. The incidence of purchasing stolen computers and electronics is more likely when the items are purchased from third party computer and electronics dealers, like some of the ‘fly by night’ computer and electronics dealers online, or from a theft store or pawnbroker who has no idea about the history of the electronics they are selling.
Unfortunately, with today’s online marketplace constantly changing and the theft across the US of electronics and pharmaceuticals ever increasing, the consumer has become sort of a ‘pawn’ in the business of selling stolen property. Each hour of each day, thousands of items known to be stolen are placed up for sale through the use of online marketplaces, auction sites and classified ad services.
The business of selling stolen goods online through one of the hundreds of online auction services and classified ad services is fast becoming a business that is more profitable than the selling of illegal drugs with less risk.
The purchasers of new or used items weather online or from Flea Markets, Swap Meets, Garage Sales etc., MUST use due diligence when considering their purchases as, any item later found to be reported stolen could subject the current owner to criminal charges and fines (which could prove very embarrassing if the item was given as a gift to someone!). The possession of stolen property is a Felony in most States in the US weather the holder/new owner knew the item was stolen or not.
The following measures can be taken to avoid purchasing stolen electronics. Always Remember: If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is!!
One of the safe measures to employ when purchasing new or used electronics online is to purchase through the use of a credit card or other form of secure payment rather than making a purchase using checks or meeting the seller and paying for the purchase in cash. If the seller insists on cash as the form of payment, the purchaser can be fairly sure that the computer or electronics item may be stolen. Also, stolen computers and electronics are sold at prices that tend to be below wholesale. If the buyer has good knowledge about the pricing trends of both new and used computers and electronics in the market-place, they can easily figure-out if the item being offered for sale as new, used or ‘slightly’ used is a legitimate offer or not.
The ‘due diligence’ used during the purchasing of used computers and electronics online is of utmost importance as, a reputed dealer or seller will have an established location and or online business. They tend to not sell on the streets. Therefore, it is better to avoid buying used computers and electronics from un-established street vendors or online sellers, who may be fly by night sellers of stolen goods, without checking the items reported lost/stolen status. Such sellers attract the buyers with excessively low pricing or heavy discounts or even freebies along with the computer or electronic item if the sale can be completed ‘right now’. If the buyer is not sure about the item, they can very well ask for the documents i.e. receipts from the original purchase, serial number registration paperwork etc., pertaining to the item. If no receipts or other documents are available for the original purchase, the item could very well be stolen. The best method of finding out is to check the serial number or unique identifier of the item which can be done with the help of local law enforcement or one of the online services that offer such services.
As the buyer, you have all the right to ask the seller about the reason for the sale of the item, where it was purchased and type of payment was made initially. If the buyer is satisfied with the answers received, they can at that time go ahead with the purchase or, move on to the next best seller. If purchasing items in person, at times one can ‘sense’ if the seller is genuine or not through the sellers body language. Some persons in the business of selling illegal items will show jittery type movements, will agree to sell for a rock bottom price or, will offer to ‘throw in’ something extra if you meet their price right then and there.
The sale of stolen electronics and other goods online happens a lot more often than most people would tend to think, or would even want to imagine. Because the sellers of stolen goods have the ability to price goods at whatever price they feel the ‘market’ will bare, it can sometimes be pretty easy to know when something is ‘To Good To Be True.’
Follow these simple tips:
1. Know as much as you can about the seller.
2. Ask for the serial number and or unique identifier number.
3. Always verify the serial numbers lost/stolen status.
4. Always pay using a credit card.