US Coins

ebay changes for counterfeit coin reporting rankles collectors

Former members of eBay’s Coin Community Watch Group and others are claiming eBay has dismantled its overall Trust and Safety program although company officials of the online auction company say the program has only been modified.

Those who claim eBay has eliminated all efforts to curtail listings of counterfeit coins and numismatic items or investigate claims of eBay policy violations say the actions have crippled customer confidence in buying and selling numismatic items on eBay.

An official at eBay says the Enhanced Member Reporting, or EMR initiatives, have not been scrapped, only streamlined.

Additionally, “eBay remains committed to providing a safe, secure online marketplace for the sale of coins and currency,” according to Gene Cook, eBay’s general manager of emerging verticals. “We also place the utmost value on the feedback of our community members. We’re currently moving toward a more formal process for reporting and removing any fraudulent behavior within the coin category.

“Having recently partnered with a lead expert in counterfeit coin recognition, who proactively monitors our marketplace for inauthentic listings, we’ve also broadened our internal team within this category in an effort to detect and investigate fraudulent activity in a more streamlined manner. 

“We are proud of the steps we have taken to combat the sale of counterfeit coins in recent years. Through continual investments in technology, human resources, key external relationships and infrastructure, eBay is committed to aggressively detecting and removing members who engage in any type of fraudulent behavior.

“We value the pivotal role our community members play in the detection of illegal and unwelcome counterfeit listings, and encourage them to continue bringing listings that are perceived to be fraudulent to our attention through the ‘Report Item’ link or form. Once submitted, a detailed review is initiated and vetted by our teams, and listings deemed fraudulent will be removed promptly.”

Cook added, “We still have EMR in place, but we have limited its usage to a small group of experts in order to provide more consistency when investigating listings that violate our policies. Those in the community who are no longer part of EMR can still report violations, and those reports will be investigated just as before. As mentioned, we’ve also created a more formalized structure between our experts and CS [customer services] agents. One of these experts is Steve Blum.”

Blum, a professional numismatist since 1972, says he has been a consultant for eBay for nearly three years. Blum says he polices auctions of U.S. and world coins, addressing improper listings that offer counterfeits and replicas in violation of eBay policy.

Watch Group

The Coin Community Watch Group was created in mid-2000 as a joint effort between the American Numismatic Association and eBay in an effort to thwart auction fraud.

Jake Sherlock, ANA marketing and communications director, said the association dropped out of the initiative several years ago.

A collector who says he was a member for several years who reported fraud and eBay policy violations says he was more or less forced off the reporting team because of the number of violations and improper auction listings he was reporting.

The collector says eBay’s revamping of its policy violation and fraud reporting system makes it more difficult to report problems.

The reporting now has to be done individually per violation from each auction page, preventing submitting a single report citing multiple violations in multiple auctions.

A member of eBay’s internal investigative team for coins and stamps wrote an email to a collector that the recipient posted recently on the Collectors Universe U.S. Coin Forum, alleging the entire coin and stamp reporting process had been changed and that many eBay team members had been reassigned.

“Your reports are being automatically sent to a different tool to be reviewed and actioned,” according to the forum posting. 

“You will no longer receive responses to your reports and since I will no longer be reviewing them, I doubt any action will be taken. Only reports sent from the listing page will reach an eBay representative. I fought against these changes, but without success.”

Coin World contacted eBay’s legal department, but received no response as of July 2.

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