How to Solve eBay's Efencing Problem

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On Wednesday night, CNBC aired a segment on “efencing,” the practice of selling stolen goods on eBay (aff). According to CNBC, efencing is a $37 billion business where thieves lift goods from retail stores and list them as items on the world’s largest marketplace. Because many of these items are factory sealed, they reap large profits totaling around 70 cents to the dollar.

Should eBay crack down on fraudulent sales?

Although I agree that “efencing” is a major problem, it isn’t eBay’s job to monitor where a merchant’s items come from. Retailers should implement theft & loss protection divisions to control in-store theft. I think it’s ridiculous for eBay to perform the grunt work on the behalf of unfortunate corporations.

Could you imagine having to show proof of ownership before listing an item on eBay? I’m sure forcing members to mail in sales receipts would really motivate more people to use eBay’s services. (I’m only kidding.)

How could merchants solve the “efencing” problem?

eBay’s Vice President of Trust & Safety Rob Chesnut said it best: increase theft protection at the retail level. It’s the job of these major retailers to prevent criminals from lifting their products. If retailers like Home Depot (HD) installed more security cameras and metal detectors in their stores, this would deter criminals and prevent the items from being stolen in the first place.

I guess it’s easier said than done. What do you think? Should eBay be held responsible for the “efencing” practices?

Note: I own shares of eBay.

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