I didn’t dig far into the surrounding context when I wrote about buying fake tags, but I saw plenty of surprised reactions on social media to this obvious criminality on Facebook Marketplace. The situation is well understood, but pretty far from resolved.
I recommend these articles from CNBC and NBC News:
- Stolen goods sold on Amazon, eBay and Facebook are causing havoc for major retailers
- ‘It’s an easy fast dollar’: How organized retail theft rings in one Ohio town use Facebook Marketplace to sell stolen goods
The second story highlights law enforcement’s sense that of the various online marketplaces, Facebook is particularly unhelpful when they make a request.
There’s also relevant legislation: the INFORM Act would require sellers who are doing meaningful volumes of business to pass through additional identity verification processes. It passed the House, but I’m unsure whether anyone considers it a priority in the new Congress. Retail industry groups are pushing for it, though, with the online marketplaces standing on the other side of the issue.
This wouldn’t be a panacea. As the NBC story notes, theft rings recruit can still legitimate front-people to go through verification processes. And for something like fake tags, it seems like sellers could easily set up a new account whenever they approach INFORM’s $5,000 revenue threshold for verification. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, as is the multi-state task force convened by attorneys general who are interested in this problem.
Lots more to be done here, but some people are paying attention. Whether that includes anyone in D.C., I couldn’t say…