NRF, eBay Bury Hatchet With New Partnership

WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation here and online auctioneer eBay — two organizations that have been critical of each other — announced they have formed a partnership to fight organized retail crime (ORC).

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation here and online auctioneer eBay — two organizations that have been critical of each other — announced they have formed a partnership to fight organized retail crime (ORC).

Many retailers believe online marketplaces such as eBay give ORC gangs a faceless cover through which to “e-fence” their goods. According to an ORC survey NRF conducted last year, 60% of retail respondents said they have identified or recovered stolen merchandise and/or gift cards that were being e-fenced through Internet auction sites.

Last summer, Tod Cohen, vice president and deputy general counsel for government relations for eBay, blasted the NRF report, saying it was “filled with best guesses vs. facts and hard numbers. It simply doesn't make sense to blame online marketplaces for a problem that has existed since well before the Internet was invented.”

However, under the new partnership the NRF and eBay will engage in “greater information sharing to target ORC investigations” in an effort to support the investigative efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement working in partnership with loss prevention professionals, according to an NRF statement.

“Through this partnership, NRF and eBay are putting criminals on notice that they will no longer be able to steal from retailers and abuse the online marketplace for profit,” said Paul Jones, global director of asset protection, eBay.

“The partnership between NRF and eBay will create standards and best practices to stop criminals from fencing their stolen goods,” added Joe LaRocca, NRF’s senior asset protection advisor, NRF.

Under the partnership, the groups have agreed to: Bring together a core group of NRF retail members and representatives of eBay on a regular basis to discuss organized retail crime, brainstorm best practices to prevent it, and take steps to eradicate the activity; identify ways to leverage new technology, including NRF’s LERPnet and eBay’s PROACT programs, to further assist law enforcement in identifying and tracking organized retail crime rings; collaborate with the FBI to help identify crime rings that have been responsible for stealing merchandise in bulk; and work together on legislation to enhance federal law enforcement resources to combat ORC and punish major offenders through enhanced criminal penalties.

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