Buyer Beware: Stolen Handbags Tracked to Auction Site - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Buyer Beware: Stolen Handbags Tracked to Auction Site


If you're an online shopper, beware of items you find on auction sites.  Officials tracked a trail of stolen high end handbags to eBay.

"You feel violated. You feel angry."

Melissa Maxwell works for the company that distributes "LeSportsac" high end purses and travel accessories. She says the distribution center was robbed and then caught in the middle of an online scam.

"When they first started, they were just taking a bag or two from each box, and by doing that, it was really not showing up on radar that things were really missing," said Sheriff Gus Skinner.

Maxwell says the number of stolen purses grew.

"And some of the people who work in shipping came into my office and they said, 'all the boxes were empty, and there was stuff all over the floor, and the bags were gone.'"

More than 200 bags were stolen, costing the company more than $50,000 in sales.
From the beginning, authorities suspected it was an inside job.

"We knew they had worked at LeSportsac, and one of them had a brother, so we knew they had an inside connection," said Skinner.

Investigators found out the stolen bags were being sold on eBay.

"One of the key pieces of evidence we had against them was that they were selling these purses on eBay that hadn't even been released yet," said Skinner. "So we knew they had to be stolen from the distribution center, because they hadn't even gone on the market yet."

Postal inspectors got involved and tracked the stolen purses.  Nine people were arrested and charged in connection with the case.
Officials say when you're buying online, be careful and check out the seller.

"If you're buying off eBay, first thing you should do is look at the ratings to see what type of ratings the seller has," said Skinner. "If they just opened up, be leary of that."

New security measures are now in place at the LeSportsac distribution center, and Maxwell says they will be extra cautious when hiring new employees.

"You really just can't trust anyone," said Maxwell.



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