Vancouver residents Yevgeniy and Lyudmila Smirnov are accused of running a large-scale stolen goods operation that netted them up to $140,000 a month in eBay sales, according to Oregon Live. The couple reportedly bought products from shoplifters in parking lots and then sold them on eBay to customers overseas, particularly in Eastern European countries where demand for certain cosmetic goods is especially high.
Police got on the Smirnovs' trail after large quantities of Crest teeth whitening strips, Rogaine hair growth treatment and Alli weight loss pills started going missing from major grocery stores in the Portland metro area, Oregon Live reports.
Police say they busted the Smirnovs after undercover cops were able to sell them stolen goods in a Walmart parking lot, the Columbian reports. Court documents also reveal that a search warrant led investigators to a large inventory of loot in the couple's home.
The duo pleaded not guilty to charges of trafficking stolen property and money laundering.
With the ability to barter with complete strangers, sites like eBay have become a welcome place for booty. A Louisiana woman was sentenced last week after she admitted to making over $175,000 in less than three years from listing over 11,000 stolen items on eBay, according to the News Star. Earlier this month, a Texas man found his own car that was stolen 42 years ago for sale in an eBay listing as he was perusing the site.
How can you spot stolen goods on eBay? Be wary of new merchandise with tags still on, large amounts of the same item sold by one seller and disclaimers from sellers saying they only accept money orders or other untraceable payment methods.
Here are some tips on how to avoid being scammed on sites like eBay and Craigslist: