Online auction traders have been warned about bidding on their own goods to hike prices after an eBay seller became the first in the UK to be prosecuted for online auction fixing.
Paul Barrett (39), from Stanley, Co Durham, is facing a fine of up to £50,000 after bidding against himself on the online auction website.
Barrett, a minibus hire firm boss, pleaded guilty to 10 offences at Skipton Magistrates' Court after using two separate eBay accounts to bid on and increase the price of his items.
The case was adjourned for sentencing at Bradford Crown Court on May 21.
Jo Boutflower, head of enforcement, intelligence and process at North Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “I think people do it either themselves or by getting friends and family to bid on their items |and don't think they're doing anything wrong, but actually they are breaking the law.
“We certainly hope this case is a bit of a wake-up call to people who do trade on eBay, or other auction sites.”
Barrett was investigated by North Yorkshire Trading Standards after a complaint that he had advertised and sold a minibus on eBay with false low mileage.
Officers found he was selling goods on the website under the username “shanconpaul”, then bidding on them under the identity “paulthebusman” — a process known as shill bidding.