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Cyber-fraud gets real time

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A Boise man will spend 18 months in federal prison after defrauding eBay auction-goers out of thousands of dollars. Dell D. Tarbell was sentenced in Boise district court on March 24 for his eBay cyber-fraud transgressions.

According to the U.S. Deparment of Justice, Tarbell admitted to selling nonexistent coins over his home computer, using the eBay seller name "dells...coins...and...more." Through the account, he offered rare coins from estate sales, European auction houses and other fraudulent sources over 2002 and 2003. He defrauded victims by accepting payments for the coins and never shipping them. Tarbell was ordered to pay $41,510.92 in restitution, and will spend an additional three years on supervised release.

In a final, definitive blow to the plausibility of eBay's rating system of "buyer feedback," Tarbell's rating as of his sentencing was an overwhelming 320 postitive transactions, versus only six negative. While Tarbell's eBay account has been terminated, his past transactions and an elaborate autobiographical description are still viewable on the online auction's Web site. The self-description is particularly telling, giving an inside glimpse into the methods of an Internet con artist.

"Hopefully I can answer the e-mails we get as to why we do not ship as soon as we get money orders and certified checks," Tarbell writes. "We have been burned three times with very good copies, our bank charged us $25.00 per item and ofcouse [sic] we shipped the items out and lost the merchandise too. I hope this explains our policy of not setting a ship date untill [sic] all funds have cleared our bank."

He adds, "I believe in the old addage [sic] that the customer is always right. There is still a lot of good in the world."

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