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General Philatelic/Gen. Discussion : Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

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Parkinlot
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President - West Essex Philatelic Society www.wepsonline.org
19 Jul 2011
11:44:23am
I don't know if anyone else here is following this discussion on StampBoards or not. But I know we have collectors of Aussie stamps. It's a lot reading. Pretty sad...

http://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=28978

Bob

(Message edited by parkinlot on July 19, 2011)
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Parkinlot
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President - West Essex Philatelic Society www.wepsonline.org
20 Jul 2011
10:25:54am
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

OK... So here's a synopsis for those that don't want to read through the full thread.

The initial post was questioning if a reputable dealer in Australia was selling a few Australian stamps reperfed items on eBay. Most of the concensus was that the stamps were reperfed.

Another commenter noticed that the official OS perfins that the dealer was selling didn't look quite right.

Now here is where it starts getting crazy...
Another commenter noticed that someone who won an item from that dealer also purchased something from him (the commentor). The dealer and the winner of the lot had the same address. Now there is the accusation of shill bidding. Apparently the buyer from the dealer and the commenter was the wife of the dealer. They also ran up other lots where people paid hundreds of dollars more than they should have because of the shill bidding. The commentor reported this to eBay and they confirmed that there was shill bidding.

But wait. It gets more interesting...
The wife was buying fairly common Australian stamps on eBay. Then a few weeks later the husband was selling the same stamps either reperforated or with added OS perfins to make them look like much more valuable stamps.

Then many of the commenters reported the dealer to the APTA (Australian Philatelic Traders Association). Apparently their response was pretty weak causing the public to question their Code of Ethics. According to the President of the APTA they are taking possession of all the OS perfins and they had the dealer destroy the perfin device. The dealer also had to reimburse buyers of any faked items and difference in the shill bidding. It also took a while to get the dealer off their roster. Collectors are mad about the device being destroyed because they think it should have been used for evidence and for reference purposes. They now believe that this has damaged the Australian Official OS stamp market.

Apparently, there have been no charges against the dealer as of this moment. He is still selling on eBay and he had to remove the APTA logo from his website.

I'm looking forward to the follow-up. I wonder if Linn's will report this?

Bob

(Message edited by parkinlot on July 20, 2011)

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Patches
Liz
20 Jul 2011
10:50:20am

Auctions - Approvals
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Very interesting Bob. Thanks for sharing with us.

Liz

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Saleem
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20 Jul 2011
11:01:11am
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

And the collectors end up with suspect items! Is there any system in Australia like the US where one can obtain certificate of authenticity for higher value items?

A few days back I was caught in a shill bidding vice at Delcampe what I did was gather evidence against the Italian seller and reported the matter to Delcampe. Nothing was done even after two complaints, then I posted a message at VSC where Sebastian Delcampe is known to visit frequently - he took action and all the three parties involved were suspended from selling at Delcampe. It all involved a used and repaired US #67 (amongst other early US items) which was bought by a US based buyer/seller and when I contacted him he says he is yet to recieve the item. My posts are at VSC under the group Dealers and Auctions and header "Possible shimming at Delcampe" - this word 'shimming' is my own invention :-).

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Parkinlot
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President - West Essex Philatelic Society www.wepsonline.org
20 Jul 2011
12:15:30pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Saleem,

I have been following that thread on VSC. I thought of you while reading about the Australian dealer.

Another point that really bothers me is that perfectly good stamps were destroyed by attempting to making a $200 value stamp into a $1000 value stamp.

Gordon Gekko was wrong... Greed is not good.

Bob

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Bobstamp
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20 Jul 2011
12:29:36pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

It's interesting how "the law" does not see philatelic crime as crime. Not even as a misdemeanor. I've been told that dealers here in Vancouver don't even report suspected shop lifting because police generally respond with less than full interest.

The bogus Aussie perfins reminds me of a case here in Vancouver. Several years before I arrived on the philatelic scene here, a well-known dealer was caught selling bogus OHMS perfins which he was making with a perforating machine that Canada Post had once used. That guy did end up in prison, I believe; the perfing machine is now in the Canada Postal Museum.

Bob

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Rgnpcs
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20 Jul 2011
04:15:13pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Bob,
Who was the dealer?
Richaard

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
20 Jul 2011
04:19:27pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

i read through the posts on the Board; thank you, Bob, for pointing it out, for providing the URL, and the great summation.

Other comments include observation that eBay's weak response is probably due to its increased fees from shill bids and higher value faked stamps; and incredulity at APTA's mild response. Still others, when warned to secure certificates, noted that the committees providing said certificates were sometimes filled with men like Jude Koch, the very man armed with the reperforator and perfin device.

Glen Stephens was most vocal about folks learning to tell fakes. Frankly, when armed with the instructions that Glenn and others provided, it WAS easy to see that the stamps were altered.

All stamps affected (or at least discussed) were Oz Roos, one of the collecting specialties of our very own web master who must be following this with dismay.

I also admire the speed with which the stampboard site moved on this, and the courage of those speaking out, and, especially, the way in which the discussion stayed close to point without getting into vitriol, ad hominem attacks, or the like. I admire their administrators and their moderators. Collectors of Australia might well make that site a stop on their normal surfing days.

David T

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
20 Jul 2011
04:21:05pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Richard,

Jude Koch, operating as blue owl and blueowl2000.

(Message edited by envelopeplease on July 20, 2011)

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
20 Jul 2011
04:23:43pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

it will be a shame if the perfin machine was destroyed; and worse if it was suggested by APTA, which should have made arrangements for it to become part of a reference or ephemera collection

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auldstampguy
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Just one more small cover .....
20 Jul 2011
10:16:20pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Thanks Bob for bringing this to our attention. And this guy holds a position of real authority in the Australian philatelic world???? That is just sad. All I can say is thanks to our sellers for their integrity.

I guess the other thing though is, if you are going to spend multiple hundreds of $s for one stamp, make sure that you know the seller. The only time that I have spent large amounts of money (at least for me) on stamps, has been when buying from close friends on Stamporama.

Regards ... Tim

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Cdj1122
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Silence in the face of adversity is the father of complicity and collusion, the first cousins of conspiracy..
23 Jul 2011
01:24:43pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Fraud, counterfeiting, bogus alterations are,unfortunately something that has been around the hobby for a long time and will, I am sure continue for as long as one variation of a particular stamps carries a premium over another.

Eternal Vigilence is not just the price of Liberty.

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".... You may think you understood what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you think you heard is not what I thought I meant. .... "
Parkinlot
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President - West Essex Philatelic Society www.wepsonline.org
01 Aug 2011
03:18:29pm
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Follow-up...

I just went back to the discussion. Apparently nothing has been done so far. Here is what was on Blue Owls website yesterday. It is not there now but is in the cache. Interestingly he calls it "improvement".

"STATEMENT REGARDING GLEN STEPHENS EMAIL
You may have received an email from a Glen Stephens concerning the professional conduct of Blue Owl's Stamps in respect to stamp improvement activity. Recently Blue Owls Stamps exercised very poor judgment and engaged in some practices that are not in line with our industry standards or codes of behaviour. As principal of Blue Owl stamps, I accept full responsibility and wish to apologise - I deeply regret what occurred.

The small number of eBay customers concerned have been contacted and given full refunds and any remaining stamps were handed to APTA to be destroyed. The matter is now with our industry association and Blue Owl Stamps has complied fully – and will continue to co-operate - with the Association’s disciplinary process and rulings. As a long-standing member of the industry, I remain committed to the high professional standards and codes of conduct.

Glen Stephens is a formally expelled APTA member who has sensationalised the event for what in a large part seems to amount to his own self promotion. We totally refute many of the claims and will deal with them through the appropriate forum. If you have any concerns please feel free to contact me. Jude Koch"


Glen Stephens responded that he was expelled in the 1980's because he called another dealer a nasty term and refused to apologize. He has been asked to come back but refuses. Much different than modifying stamps (improving) and participating in shill bidding. Stephens didn't even get into the discussion until a couple of days later as he was out of town. Pretty crazy.

Bob

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
02 Aug 2011
11:54:20am
re: Troubles Down Under: Shill Bidding

Love Jude's crafting of the "apology": "small number of eBay customers concerned." As Bob implies, Jude's putting this on Glen's head as "a formally expelled APTA member who has sensationalised" even though it was others who brought this to light.

"We totally refute many of the claims" [but not in public]. But my favorite is "I remain committed to the high professional standards and codes of conduct"; which must be tough to do between calibrating the perforating machine and calling in bids on your partner's lots.

David

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