[meteorite-list] It is ridiculous now.
From: John K. Gwilliam <jkg_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:31:27 2004
Doug and List,
I met Doug for the first time at the Tucson Show just a few weeks ago. He
was one of the people on my "to meet" short list because I have been very
impressed with his depth of vision and a superb ability to express it in type.
This is the best post I've seen in the last several years dealing with the
issue of Ebay and the selling of suspect meteorites. Over the years, there
have been several attempts by well-meaning people to do something to curb
the sales of non-meteoritic material as genuine meteorites. All of us know
what the result has been: our in-boxes get filled with endless threads
about so-and-so bad guy selling meteorwrongs on ebay. What have we
accomplished in the past, say, four years? Not much. Don't get me wrong, I
think it's an admirable goal to want to make the wrong things in this world
right, but unless progress is being made and the end result matches the
original goal, what is the point?
Back in 1999, a former list member started the "Meteorite Sheriff
Posse." He personally selected the members he wanted to be in the group
and then galloped off on his cyber stallion to rid Ebay of fraudulent
meteorite sellers. While there were some interesting moments with this
group, the overall result was failure and a lot of wasted time.
If the IMCA leadership think policing Ebay should be part of their mission,
I suggest they take a good look at what Mexico Doug has to
say. Personally, I think that unless a deceptive dealer is a member of the
IMCA, no direct action should be taken. A lot of resources that could be
applied in a positive and rewarding direction are being used up trying to
fight the bad guys one at a time.
Thank you Doug for getting us to take a different look at an old problem.
At 11:40 PM 2/23/2004 -0500, MexicoDoug_at_aol.com wrote:
>En un mensaje con fecha 02/23/2004 1:25:22 PM Mexico Standard Time,
>>Unless you become a victim,
>>there is not a whole lot you can do legally.
>>And that IS sad.
>I agree the situation is not very happy, though I have a different path to
>suggest in accomplishing the goal. I want to say you analysis was very
>convincing if the big hammer approach is to be tried ... enough to tempt
>anyone. I was very impressed with the resources available that you
>mentioned. But please also consider: First, what is the goal?
>Ebay is a giant flea market, is it not? Or does the flea market being
>on-line mean people have to be more ethical? I don't think the mission of
>eBay is to get tied up in that sticky issue any more than similar things
>like porn-proofing the on-line search engines at the source. Similar
>messes would result in a dynamic situation. I have never seen unofficial
>vigilante cops running around an asphalt and paint flea market, and the
>IMCA really has no such jurisdiction. Please don't interpret this as me
>cutting slack to nefarious thieves. Nothing is further from my
>thoughts. I think it is just an objective summary of the state of the
>world at the moment. So rather than changing the world, perhaps we need
>to drop the Policeman of the World ideas and review some other reasonable
>options that tend to get us where we want to, efficiently. Some ideas on
>the table I'd advance:
>1. Who's responsibility is it to beware? Ans: the buyer
>2. Does eBay permit a flea market policing authority with sanctioning
>power? Ans: No.
>3. What is the IMCA to this? Ans: A special interest SELLER group.
>4. What is it to you if you aren't the victim? a) Fulfill a desire to be
>a vigilante. or b) Increase your sales by giving people more confidence to
>pay you for your stuff and getting rid of competitors you can squeal on or
>c) both or d) Nothing.
>5. What is it to you if you are the victim? Ans: a) Theft; b) Happy
>anyway ... no perceived problem.
>It would seem that this is only a crime when there is victim, with the
>possible exception of advertising fraud as already pointed out - though
>that is a rather overkill due to its complexity in preparing the case, a
>difficult route to take for a flea market, unless you are a victim, and a
>very mad one at that !! And it would also seem that if IMCA were to
>consider combating fraud within its goals, the resources should be paid
>for proportionally, just like the United Nations type of animal it is,
>based on sales. Perhaps a three tier contribution. But then again,
>perhaps not: Because not everyone in IMCA feels the same about paying to
>nail other criminals with their $.
>I didn't check if IMCA has in its goals to combat fraud. I would think,
>though, that IMCA is a positive bend, not a crime fighting bend, and as
>such feels strongly about fraud but does not make it a general focus for
>membership. Rather, IMCA I view as a positive influence saying, with us
>you buy with confidence. So based on the above reasoning, I would enter
>the idea that all IMCA members interested in policing the eBay world start
>an anti-fraud squad (best under IMCA, of course) where everyone has that
>one sole purpose. Now the three tier funding works whether in $ or in
>hours...but how to spend it efficiently? ...
>The real complaint seems to me to be in part that IMCA is not being
>marketed as well as many wish it could. Well ... maybe it should scrap
>that idea of being vigilantes and work on improving marketing
>efforts. For example every time I make a search on Google for meteorites
>up pops "I buy, sell and trade meteorites," by one distinguished member
>who has his marketing act together. Why don't I see the IMCA there,
>too. "We are a non-profit organization helping buyers get authentic
>meteorites. Click for a free guide on-line auction fraud and eBay offenders."
>How much could that cost? Less than the policing effort? I would think
>so. And speaking of the policing effort, I wouldn't stop there if I had
>nothing else to do. No inventing of clever ways to alert bidders... A
>wrong plus another wrong doesn't always work well. Rather, perhaps a
>little patience, and then follow-up to the buyers who were truly
>robbed. Subject "International Meteorite Collectors Association" Dear
>fellow meteorite enthusiast: We are the IMCA, an organization, bla bla
>bla dedicated to authenticity with a special group that polices on-line
>auction fraud. Several members routinely peruse eBay auctions and bring
>fraud to attention when it is suspected. While we recognize some buyers
>may not be concerned with the authenticity of their recent meteorite
>purchase for their own personal reasons, we direct this message to those
>who are concerned with authenticity. First, IMCA agrees with the
>definition in ______ dictionary: A rock or iron originating from outer
>space that can be proven to have fallen to earth as a meteor, after
>surviving passage through the Earth's atmosphere. If this is what you
>intended to purchase, we feel there is evidence that you may have been the
>victim of fraud. We would like to refer you to our organization's web
>site where we list all the recent suspected fraudulent ebay Sellers and a
>description of the suspected theft of unsuspecting bidders as reported by
>our individual members. (Link: IMCA eBay Gallery of Rogue Sellers). If
>this concerns you and you become convinced that it is in your interest not
>to pay for fraudulent specimens, we also would invite you to allow us to
>assist you (Link: Steps in backing out of an auction you have won when you
>discover after winning that the material is fake) in not losing your money
>to this suspected fraudulent meteorite, and to leave the corresponding
>feedback for the Seller.
>Note, that while members of the IMCA are frequently meteorite sellers, the
>IMCA does not charge for this service to those interested in making claims
>for material we suspect as fradulent. At no time will we ask you for
>money, passwords, or to buy anything. This is not Spam to sell
>meteorites. We offer this service as a benefit to our members carrying
>the IMCA logo in their eBay auctions to keep our small industry with a
>relatively limited pool of sellers fraud free as possible, some of which
>participate on eBay, so that trust may be built among buyers of meteorites
>and increase the overall satisfaction in on-line meteorite
>purchases. Thank you for your time and should you have any questions
>regarding on-line meteorite fraud or rogues, please send them to
>IMCA_at_imca.org for a prompt reply. This is the only message you will
>receive from the IMCA regarding your transaction if you do not
>respond. You are not on any mailing list and this is a single personal
>message from the IMCA Anti-fraud squad, which suspects your recent
>purchase to be a fake. Sincerely, IMCA (Link: anti-fraud squad
>membership, without affiliations)
>Later, on the website, any and all cases cracked with IMCA help to victims
>would be listed protecting the name of the victim but not the perpetrator
>(who the victim can provide the name of).
>Hope this helps. Seems a bit more realistic if IMCA wants to get involved
>(with website and ebay ID to be able to send emails to ebay users), and no
>gray purchases of junk are required. Plus those that don't want or need
>help ... well, who really cares ... they aren't victims really anyway...
Received on Tue 24 Feb 2004 11:35:43 AM PST