EBay Bidders Find Way to Fix Highest Bid

Share Article

Iraq Museum International explains how a "Sniper Trap" was used in the online sale of a fake Mesopotamian artifact, costing the victim thousands of dollars.

While monitoring online auction sites for the sale of illegal artifacts from Mesopotamia, Iraq Museum International (http://www.BaghdadMuseum.org) discovered a way that bidders on eBay can influence the highest bid and cheat other bidders.

Using an eBay listing and its bidding history, Iraq Museum International demonstrates how a 4-step price-fixing process led to the online sale of a fake "Sumerian Stone Statue of a Seated Male" on eBay for $3,726 on Monday, August 1, 2005.

Dubbed the "Sniper Trap," the process can be executed on eBay from any computer in the world and involves the following steps for any auction listing on the site:

1. The seller and a second person posing as a bidder prepare to precisely synchronize their keystrokes on two separate computers logged onto eBay.

2. In the final minute of bidding, the person posing as a bidder places an extremely high bid on the item. This has the effect of triggering all automatic bids set by any other bidder, instantly revealing his or her secret maximum bid.

3. Meanwhile, the seller has filled out a bid cancellation form at eBay, and is ready at the keyboard with a finger over the "Enter" key. Within the last 30 seconds of the electronic auction the seller presses the key, submitting the form to automatically cancel the bid placed by the false bidder.

4. During the few seconds while the false bid was in play, other bidders would be deceived by what they saw: a high bid placed by the false bidder that was only a few dollars higher than the maximum set by the real high bidder. Thus, the last-second bidder, or "sniper," would know that he or she would have to bid over that amount in order to win the auction.

This method would account for higher-than-normal bids placed during the final 30 seconds of an auction on eBay.

EBay is the Internet's largest auction site, with over 114 million registered members worldwide.

Iraq Museum International is a volunteer organization created after the looting of the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. It seeks to accelerate the recovery of Iraq's stolen treasures by bringing the rich history and cultural heritage of Iraq to the world. It invites the active participation of the Iraq reconstruction community as well as students, professors, professionals and cultural enthusiasts from all countries. To see how a variation of the "Sniper Trap" played out in eBay's antiquities market, visit Iraq Museum International at http://www.BaghdadMuseum.org.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

John Simmons
Visit website