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Man gets more than 12 years in prison for EBay scam

Darin French was convicted of charges related to the theft of about $1.5 million from people who bought high-end appliances online but never received them. Also, warnings about wedding scams, fraudulent emails and door-to-door magazine sales.

June 06, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

EBay fraud — A man who defrauded more than 250 people out of about $1.5 million by advertising high-end appliances on EBay and then failing to send the products has been sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison. A jury in February convicted Darin French, 40, of 22 counts of mail fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. Prosecutors said French and his wife, Jennifer, who was also convicted, established an online business called Look What We Got that advertised Sub-Zero, Viking and Wolf appliances at discount prices. After initially shipping products to a few customers, the Frenches failed to send merchandise to about 250 customers and kept their victims' money. The couple, who lived in Incline Village, Nev., at the time, established multiple accounts on EBay and gave themselves positive feedback in order to trick customers into believing they were trustworthy, prosecutors said. The couple used the stolen money to buy a $50,000 Bayliner boat and a Ford F-250 pickup truck, prosecutors said. Jennifer French is scheduled to be sentenced July 11.

Wedding scams — With the wedding season approaching, the Better Business Bureau is advising aspiring brides and grooms not to be blinded by love when planning for their big days. The BBB received nearly 1,000 wedding-related complaints in 2010. If you're planning a wedding, the BBB said it's important to research online vendors carefully, review terms of all contracts, keep all receipts and pay by credit card to provide additional protection in the event of a dispute. In addition, the BBB said, it is a good idea to purchase wedding insurance, which can cover potential problems such as no-shows or other unexpected issues.

FDIC emails — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is warning the public about fraudulent emails that appear to be sent by the FDIC but are attempts to steal recipients' personal information. Some of the emails are addressed to "business customer" or "business owner" and include phrases such as, "We have important information about your bank." Recipients of the emails are instructed to follow links, which can load malicious software onto victims' computers or direct people to provide confidential information. The FDIC does not contact consumers in this way, the agency said in a recent alert.

Magazine sales — The Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to be careful when dealing with door-to-door magazine salespeople. The BBB received more than 600 complaints in the first five months of 2011 about magazine sales, many of them from people who said the magazines never arrived or they were tricked into ordering more subscriptions than they intended. If you are considering buying from a door-to-door salesperson, the BBB suggests you ask for everything in writing, carefully review all materials and check out the sales company before making any purchases.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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