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Attorney General Indicts Nebraska Woman In Alleged Internet Scam

Kentucky man unfortunate victim in eBay auction scam

Attorney General Jack Conway recently announced the indictment of Erica L. McGinn, formerly of North Bend, Neb., in connection with her failure to deliver a Lexus automobile sold for more than $30,000 to a Prospect, Ky. man on eBay in January 2008.

Investigators charged McGinn with one count each of Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition of Property over $300 and Unlawful Access to a Computer Network in the First Degree. The theft charge is a Class D Felony and the unlawful access charge is a C Felony. If convicted, McGinn could face up to 10 years in prison.

“The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s also a tool for crime,” Conway said. “I appreciate the multi-jurisdictional effort that was involved in this arrest, and those who are trying to scam Kentuckians online should know that the Office of the Attorney General will investigate and prosecute these crimes.”

The Lexus vehicle was listed for sale on the Internet auction Web site eBay. McGinn allegedly sold the Lexus to the victim, who wired the purchase price to complete the transaction. When the victim arrived in Omaha to meet McGinn and obtain the Lexus, McGinn did not meet him at the airport as promised, and he was unable to locate the defendant at the address provided. In fact, she never owned a Lexus.

The Attorney General’s Office utilized telephone and bank records while working with the Council Bluffs, Iowa Police Department and eBay to locate McGinn in Jacksonville, N.C. McGinn was subsequently arrested in North Carolina on an outstanding auto-theft charge in Iowa. The case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and will be prosecuted by Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel’s office.

Tips for Purchasing Items Through Internet Auctions

The Federal Trade Commission offers the following advice about paying for items purchased through an Internet auction:

  • Don’t pay for items by wire transfer. Wire transfers can be useful when you want to send funds to someone you know or trust, but are not appropriate when you are doing business with a stranger. If you wire money to buy an item from an Internet auction site, either through a money transmitter or directly to someone’s bank account, and something goes wrong, it is very likely that you will lose your payment and have no recourse. Be suspicious of sellers who insist on cash wire transfers as the only form of payment accepted. Ask to use another method of payment. If the seller insists on a cash wire transfer, it’s wise to call off the transaction. The seller’s insistence on a wire transfer is a signal that you will probably lose your money and never receive your item. In fact, to protect buyers and sellers, some auction sites now prohibit the use of wire transfers. Most cash wire transfer companies also warn consumers not to use their services to buy merchandise from sellers they don’t know personally.
  • Successful bidders have many payment options to choose from when using Internet auction sites. Credit cards and online payment services are safest. Other options include debit cards, personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders or escrow services. Some sellers limit the types of payment accepted. Most reputable sellers will post that information on their auction listings.
  • As a rule, credit cards offer buyers the best protection. Online payment services offer some protections; look for them in the terms and conditions section of their Web sites. High volume sellers often accept credit cards directly, but don’t count on many small-scale sellers to send an item until your cashier’s check or money order has been received.


Last Updated 4/7/2008