With garage sales, EBay, and Craigslist remaining popular, some criminals have used these outlets in order to sell their stolen goods, but what happens to those who purchase those goods?  The first question is whether the person knew of they were buying stolen goods, or should have known they were purchasing stolen goods.  If the person knew they were purchasing stolen goods,  the person (depending on the state) could be charged with theft, embezzlement, fraud, larceny or something else.  But what about those who don’t know they are purchasing stolen goods?

Many Companies Have Policies To Prevent Stolen Goods From Being sold

In order to combat the threat of receiving stolen property, many bidding companies have implemented policies specifically focused on stopping the sale and purchase of stolen property.  For example, EBay will not allow a person to list items with altered or removed identification numbers.  EBay has also explicitly stated that they will help any law enforcement action, including releasing IP addresses, email addresses and paypal accounts.  To highlight the seriousness of the problem, The Calgary Herald estimated that theft rings cost U.S. retailers up to $30billion per year.  Most of these theft rings sell their goods through garage sales, swap meets, or online auctions.

Should Someone Suspect An Item Is Stolen Because It Has A Very Low Price?

Previously, if you purchased a good far below its market rate, you could be charged with knowingly purchasing a stolen item because you should have known it was stolen based on its low price.  However, today many items begin with a bid price of $0.01, bidding websites tout their low starting bids, and people are always looking for their deal.  Courts have been more reluctant recently to jump to the conclusion that a person knowingly received stolen goods when they win an auction.  However, if you do purchase stolen property, you will likely have to, at the least, return the stolen property, and you may be charged with a criminal offense if the prosecution can prove: (1) that the accused gained control of the item, (2) that the accused knew it was stolen and (3) that the accused intended to deprive the rightful owner of their interest in the property.  If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is always best to consult with an experienced criminal attorney.  However, the bottom line: if the price is too good to be true – it usually is.