For a while, Jason Hart of Manchester, England, believed that crime could pay. He sold a number of items on eBay, including 20 Xboxes, mobile phones, and tickets to the Ryder Cup, concerts, and other events. All in all, he made £23,500 (about $36,000) between September 2006 and April 2007.
That’s a profitable venture. Very profitable, in fact, since he never sent the buyers any of the items he sold. When those buyers pursued him for the goods, he came up with a string of excuses, the BBC reports, the ultimate of which was calling the local paper, posing as his father, to say Jason Hart had died. Finally complaints by customers to the police prompted an investigation, and authorities worked with eBay.
Now it’s all come back to haunt him, as he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, with the additional sting of perjury for telling a court his mother had died. He received six months in jail for the lie and another 18 months for the fraud. While pronouncing sentence, judge Mr Justice Everett told him:
"You put people off in that horrible, cynical fashion, showing just how capable you are of manipulative behavior in a dishonest way."
Hart’s girlfriend of the time had already pleaded guilty to acquiring criminal property for receiving gifts from Hart.
Richard Ambrose, head of Trust and Safety for eBay UK, said:
"The sentencing of Hart sends out a clear signal to sellers who try to defraud buyers on our site that they won’t get away with it.”