FTC Bars E-Tailer In Fraud Case

In what it is billing as the first case of its kind, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it is barring an allegedly fraudulent e-tailer from conducting Internet-based business for life.

The FTC said in a statement it reached a settlement yesterday with the defendant, Craig Lee Hare, a.k.a. Danny Hare, of Lake Worth, FL. The injunctions were filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division.

The FTC alleged that Hare advertised low-priced computers in online auction houses and collected the sales, but never actually delivered the promised goods to customers. In doing so, the FTC said Hare violated the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.

Under terms of the government agreement, Hare’s businesses–Experienced Designed Computers and C&H Computer Services–are permanently barred from advertising, marketing and selling any goods or services over the Internet, from misrepresenting goods and services for sale, and from further violating the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule.

The order also prohibits Hare from e-mail misrepresentation and calls for record keeping provisions so that the FTC can monitor compliance.

The FTC first charged Hare in April, 1998 of using online auction houses to sell new and used computers, claiming that bidders who paid up to $1,450 per computer never received the computers or refunds. The FTC did not name the participating auction houses.

Also named as a defendant in the settlement was Stephanie J. Herter, a.k.a Stephanie Branham. Checks received by Hare were deposited into Herter’s checking account, according to the FTC. In settling the charges against her, Herter was ordered to release the funds for consumer compensation.

The FTC said it has other ongoing Internet commerce fraud cases pending, but this case was the first to target the increasingly popular Web auction space.

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