Have you been to our affiliate blog Jazz Collector recently? We recently uncovered a pretty serious case of fraud in the jazz collectibles market, to the tune of approximately $130,000. It’s been a great example of community journalism at work and, because we were able to bring the story to light, eBay has filed an official complaint with the police department in Berlin, Germany.
Here’s the background. As part of our normal course of business Jazz Collector follows dozens of eBay auctions on a weekly basis, focused on the rarest jazz vinyl from labels such as Blue Note, Prestige, Norgran and others. The site is gaining popularity and traffic and is one of the fastest-growing jazz blogs in the world. In October we noticed an auction that was beyond the scope of any we had ever witnessed: Approximately 75 of the rarest of the rare jazz records, all in pristine, mint condition. It was overwhelming — and a little bit suspicious as well.
Why suspicious? The records were all beautiful, they were all extremely rare, the pictures were inconsistent and, to top it off, the seller was based in Germany, selling from Brazil and he was quite elusive about answering any specific questions. We decided, along with our Jazz Collector readers, to keep an eye on things. We also reached out to the community to find out if anyone within our audience had purchased from this seller, who went by the name “Nautiluso.” Bingo, our readers responded.
Sure enough, a few weeks later, when the buyers should have received their records, nothing had arrived, anywhere. Buyers began posting negative feedback; customers complained that they weren’t receiving records or, if they had received a package, the contents were bogus — cheap throw-away records, rather than the gems they had paid for. The fraud was clear and we began hounding eBay for answers. They were — and still are — marginally responsive. They take a while to return our calls, they don’t answer all of our questions, they try to push us off. We’re just a little Web site for collectors, after all. But we have persisted and our persistence has forced them to take action. At this point every buyer that we’ve been able to contact has been reimbursed and, as we noted, a criminal complaint has been filed. We’re staying on top of the case to try to determine precisely how the perpetrator was able to pull it off and to make sure all of the victims are properly reimbursed. We’ll post more about it as things develop.
In the meantime, score one for community/citizen journalism.