EBay Users Suspected of Defrauding Bidders

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Federal investigators have arrested one man and were searching yesterday for another suspected of cheating online bidders out of more than $110,000 through online auction Web site eBay.com.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy L. Shubin said these unrelated cases are among the first criminal prosecutions in the online auction industry.

"It's an old-fashioned fraud using new technology: promising products and not delivering," she said.

George Arthur Cruz, 31, of Artesia, CA, and Hen Ben Haim, 27, of Encino, CA, are accused of offering computers, camera equipment, musical instruments and replica football helmets for auction on eBay. Both are accused of taking money from winning bidders and sending nothing in return.

Both were indicted last week. Cruz is charged with 13 felony counts of mail fraud and one felony count of money laundering. Haim is charged with eight counts of mail fraud. Authorities have arrested Cruz but have been unable to locate Haim.

The men are accused of hoodwinking up to 240 potential victims into mailing payments. Postal inspectors have recovered $34,000.

An eBay spokeswoman said fraud is rare on the site. The company offers buyer and seller rankings to assist users in gauging authenticity.

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