NRF and eBay Team Up to Fight Retail Crime

Mar 23, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Retailers have long complained that they’re getting ripped off by thieves
and that the stolen goods ultimately make their way online for sale. It hasn’t
been unusual in the past for eBay to be named as the place where these illegal
transactions take place.

For its part, eBay has always maintained that it was actively seeking to
discover fraudulent merchandise and stolen items and shut down the parties
looking to unload these goods on a consuming public searching for deals.

Now, eBay and the National Retail Federation (NRF) have joined together to
work with merchants, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement
to use technology to crack down on organized retail crime rings.

Joe LaRocca, senior asset protection advisor, NRF, said in a press release, “EBay
has invested in a number of new resources and is making tremendous strides
assisting retailers and law enforcement with tracking illegal behavior. The
partnership between NRF and eBay will create standards and best practices to
stop criminals from fencing their stolen goods."

"Retailers cannot fight this problem alone," said Paul Jones, global director
of asset protection, eBay. "NRF and eBay are putting criminals on notice that
they will no longer be able to steal from retailers and abuse the online marketplace
for profit."

According to an NRF press release, the parties involved in this crime fighting
effort have agreed to:

  • Meet regularly to discuss organized retail crime, identify practices to
    combat it and take practical steps to bring criminals to justice.
  • Leverage NRF’s LERPnet and eBay’s PROACT programs to assist law enforcement
    in identifying criminal rings.
  • Work together on legislation to enhance law enforcement resources to fight
    and prosecute major offenders.

Discussion Questions: Will the NRF and eBay working together
help reduce organized retail crime in the U.S.? What are the most important steps
needed to really put a dent in this activity?

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4 Comments on "NRF and eBay Team Up to Fight Retail Crime"

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Ryan Mathews
11 years 1 month ago

The NRF/eBay collaboration should help ease the problem but it won’t eradicate it, especially in cases where an organized criminal conspiracy is behind the attempted fraud.

What will happen is that smart criminals will just find ways of end-running the system. One of the characteristics of the digital age is that the bad guys always seem to be one step ahead of the good guys in their understanding of how to game the system.

Paula Rosenblum
11 years 1 month ago

This collaboration will make it harder for criminals to fence stolen merchandise, but it doesn’t do much for 50% of the shrink problem–theft of merchandise and product by employees. Certainly ORC is a growing problem, and both NRF and RILA have highlighted it as an issue–but most retailers are still challenged by the basics…their own employees.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
11 years 1 month ago

Creating a process so that thieves will not be able to profit using this tool is definitely a step in the right direction. However, as Ryan mentioned, there will be another work around found. This is the nature of fighting crime.

Craig Sundstrom
11 years 1 month ago

While I hate to bash efforts for good causes, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a press release so full of “agree to”s and “work together”s, and so completely lacking in any specific plan of action. (Did someone steal that or do they not want to tip off the bad guys? Hopefully the latter.)

More to the point, it’s hard to know what to think without hard numbers: the NRF et al. may THINK eBay is a platform for illicit activity, but do they have any real proof of this? And if so, what predominates? Is it the sale of goods stolen wholesale (figuratively, if not literally) or the fencing of burgled items? And from eBay’s perspective, how will they separate theft-inspired low prices from legitimate “steals” – no pun intended – which is eBay’s raison d’etre.


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