W. Va. AG Sues Individual, Auction Site for Reportedly Not Delivering the Goods

January 19, 2005

West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed suit recently in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County on behalf of consumers nationwide against Marvin Carl Crowder, Jr., individually, and against his auction located at 1100 Georges Drive, Charleston, West Virginia. In September of 2000, the Attorney General’s office reportedly began receiving complaints regarding Marvin Carl Crowder Jr.’s failure to provide items he sold to consumers on the Internet auction eBay.

Upon placing the winning bids for items on eBay, consumers received an e-mail from eBay with instructions from Crowder. His message advised consumers to mail a check or money order to him in Charleston, West Virginia. Unsuspecting eBay buyers sent checks and money orders to him at the address he provided. Crowder then reportedly cashed the checks and money orders but did not provide the merchandise to consumers. When the eBay buyers realized that their payments had been received but their goods had not arrived, many complained by mail, e-mail, and/or attempted to call Crowder. He reportedly did not respond to their inquiries nor did he refund their money.

Crowder also is reported to have shipped goods to eBay buyers which were broken, missing parts, and used or reconditioned when they were advertised as new. Crowder did not refund money to consumers in these situations either.

After working with an eBay investigator, the Consumer Protection Division learned that eBay users lodged 21 complaints against one of Crowder’s accounts in a 35-day period. The Attorney General’s office also learned that at least 34 accounts which can reportedly be tied to Crowder were suspended by eBay for unfair trading practices.

The lawsuit also alleges that Crowder violated the law in the sales he made at the live auction in Charleston, West Virginia. The Attorney General’s office received complaints about Crowder’s failure to provide promised refunds there, and it seeks restitution for those consumers as well.

In addition to refunds for consumers, the lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief and civil penalties. The Attorney General aims to halt Crowder’s business in West Virginia and bar him from using eBay. Additionally, the suit asks for civil penalties of $5,000 for each violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

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