eBay meets with gardaí to fight fraud online

7 Sep 2005

As part of a campaign to highlight the need for online security, representatives of the auction website eBay have met with the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation to discuss how the two organisations can co-operate with one another.

The purpose of the meeting, which took place at Garda Headquarters on Harcourt Street in Dublin late last month, was to introduce the gardaí to the eBay and PayPal sites and demonstrate how eBay and PayPal can co-operate with Irish law enforcement officials.

Jennifer Stephenson, head of the fraud investigation team at eBay Ireland, and John Needham, law enforcement liaison and investigations manager for eBay UK & Ireland, attended. More than 20 garda detectives attended this briefing, the aim of which was to develop good working relationships between the online auction site and key garda personnel.

Worldwide, eBay employs more than 1,000 staff with backgrounds in law enforcement, customer support, advanced computer engineering and analysis to ensure its websites remain secure. Needham himself is a former Scotland Yard detective with close to 30 years’ experience on the force.

At the training day, gardaí were briefed on how to contact eBay, what information the company can provide them and how best to use eBay as an investigative resource. Discussions during the training day involved policy and structure as well as the kinds of information that can be exchanged between parties under Irish legislation. EBay formally launched a dedicated Irish website in June of this year.

According to eBay, the main risks of online fraud are handing over money for goods that don’t exist or the possibility of criminals gaining access to a victim’s credit card details or bank account number. The company claimed that there are very few instances of fraud that take place directly through its site. A company representative said the number of eBay transactions that end in a confirmed case of fraud is 0.01pc. “We monitor the site, ensuring it’s secure,” said Nichola Sharpe, eBay spokeswoman. “EBay is transparent; we can see exactly who’s being sold and bought and by whom.”

“In terms of crime prevention we’re always interested in meeting other agencies or organisations,” Detective Superintendent Eugene Gallagher of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told siliconrepublic.com. “EBay anticipates that 50pc of the Irish population will be doing business online so from our perspective we’re interested in looking at ways to prevent fraud or ways that we can investigate it if it does happen.”

Gallagher confirmed there had been some cases of fraud online in Ireland but added that they did not typically involve large amounts of money. He agreed that using eBay and its payment-processing arm PayPal is a more secure way of completing any such transactions and warned users to be vigilant against offers to deal with buyers or sellers outside the site. “The difficulty appears to be where people are taken outside the auction room. Don’t be taken in by offers to go outside of the site and deal with third parties directly, because there’s no way of knowing their identity; all you have is an email address.”

By Gordon Smith