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Auction Websites

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the level of criminal activity on UK-based internet auction websites. (94922)

Online markets and auction sites can potentially be used to facilitate a range of crimes including the sale of proscribed goods (from child abuse images to guns and knives, and pharmaceutical products), the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods, theft and fraud. Partly because of the clandestine nature of some forms of crime and partly because of the pace of development of the online marketplace we do not have figures on the level of criminal activity.

Many online marketplaces have developed good working relationships with UK police forces. There have been a number of successful joint operations into the sale of stolen or proscribed goods. For example, a recent successful operation in London involving the National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) and eBay to tackle the sale of blocked or barred phones led to 13 arrests. Following that operation, eBay banned people selling stolen, blocked and barred mobile phone handsets on its UK site and produced joint guidance with NMPCU warning the public about the risks of buying stolen handsets and providing advice about how to avoid them.