eBay Celebrates Twenty Years, Prepares Future Asset Protection Strategies

Originally called “Auction Web,” the site launched with the listing of a broken laser pointer on Labor Day in 1995. Our founder, software programmer Pierre Omidyar, wanted to create an online marketplace built on mutual trust and mutual reward, a marketplace where someone could buy something they wanted by selling something they didn’t. Omidyar tested the new site with a listing of a broken laser pointer. The item sold for $14.83 to a collector of broken laser pointers. Omidyar knew he was on to something big.

Auction Web soon became ebay.com, short for Echo Bay, the name of Omidyar’s consulting firm at the time. By 1996 the company was large enough to require the skills of a Stanford MBA named Jeffrey Skoll, who came aboard an already profitable ship. Meg Whitman, a Harvard graduate, soon followed as president and CEO, along with a strong business team under whose leadership eBay grew rapidly, branching out from collectibles into nearly every type of market.

Focused on Trust
Since 2008, eBay’s Global Asset Protection (GAP) team has sought more effective ways to detect, investigate, and combat organized retail crime. Our GAP team works with retail and law enforcement partners to combat organized retail crime every day. The experience of collaborative investigation improves our knowledge of criminal activity and is a force multiplier. Most importantly, the collaboration builds trust and ensures a safe and competitive market place for our users.

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As we head into our 21st year, several areas are on our radar. The first is chip-and-pin cards. This technology change improves the security of credit cards when used in a physical establishment, but has an unintended effect of moving criminal fraud to online retailers. As the United States moves to chip-and-pin cards, asset protection should prepare for the implications of this new technology shift and evaluate company fraud models.

Triangle Fraud
The second is “triangle fraud”: A criminal seller lists items for sale on their own website, a classifieds site, or auction site. When a buyer purchases the merchandise, the fraudster purchases the item from a retailer using stolen credit card information and instructs the retailer to ship directly to the unsuspecting buyer. The card holder of the stolen credit card will dispute the purchase, and the card company or retailer incurs the loss. This crime continues to gain traction and will likely continue to grow as credit crime is forced online.

For the full version of this story, visit the online version of the September-October 2015 issue.

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