SCADS - Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers - fighting stamp auction fraud

Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers
(SCADS)

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SCADS Charter

Aims

1.  To solicit cooperation of sellers intentionally or unintentionally misidentifying stamps or failing to disclose stamps as being faked, forged, or altered

2.  To work with authorities of online stamp market venues, and encourage them to act to reduce philatelic fraud in their marketplaces

3.  To pursue investigative action against sellers known to practice fraudulent methods and who fail to respond favorably to requests to correct those practices

4.  To educate collectors on all aspects of stamp identification, forgery, and alteration, with the goal of helping them make more informed decisions

5.  To warn collectors of known misidentifications, fakes, forgeries, alterations, and other scams in on-line stamp auctions

SCADS History

Beginnings - the alteration scam

SCADS was formed on 23 March 2002 in response to the alarming proliferation of fraud being perpetrated in eBay stamp auctions.  Much of this fraud is committed by a well-organized group of eBay users who purchase low-grade US stamps, then re-sell them weeks later in an altered state that deceives bidders into paying multiples of the cost to the seller.

Response to eBay's increasing censorship

in April 2002, changes to the eBay board usage policy prohibiting the posting of "auction reports or member violations" caused the eBay collecting community to become increasingly frustrated in their attempts to educate others about misleading auctions and unethical selling practices. The suggested alternative by eBay of reporting fraudulent auctions and shill bidding to SafeHarbor was met with no response, and no action by SafeHarbor. Further muzzling of the community occurred in June and July with heavy censorship of fraud discussions on the Stamps chat and Discussion boards, and the subsequent removal of the Discussion board due to "lack of community participation."

This censorship continues, despite eBay's claim that it "encourages open communication between members of the eBay community."   eBay's heavy-handed approach to "open communication" included the sanctioning and suspension of posting privileges of at least two eBay members for discussing a case of blatant shill bidding, discussing shill bidding on a board other than the Trust and Safety board, and for posting links to websites that educate the eBay community about forgeries, fakes, alterations, and the sellers who list them.

SCADS website and publicity

In August 2002, SCADS expanded, took on a more organized and public role in fraud prevention and set up its own website. On 15 August, the Jim Lehrer News Hour aired Richard Doporto's interview about stamp fakes and eBay censorship. SCADS also lent support to Richard Frajola's description fraud petition, which was submitted to eBay Trust and Safety VP Rob Chesnut in mid-August.

In October 2002, MSNBC published the online article Cautionary tales of two auctions, which outlined the work done by SCADS in assembling damning evidence of the purchase on eBay, fraudulent alteration and sale on eBay of early U.S. stamps by chickfrdstk, stazy4, schuylerac and pcheltenham. SCADS took this opportunity to release the detailed The Saratoga Fakes article, which gives an in-depth analysis of the scope of the fraud, legal issues, eBay features that have promoted it, and possible courses of action by collectors and law enforcement authorities.