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National Retail Federation: online sellers are addicts and criminals.

NRF's vice president testifies to the U. S. Congress


thorsten iceland

6:22 pm on Sep 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

[news.cnet.com ]
NetChoice.org on Wednesday called for an apology from the National Retail Federation and Joseph LaRocca, NRF's vice president for loss prevention, after LaRocca told Congress on Monday that thieves who steal from retail stores are often driven to crime by the "addictive qualities" of online commerce.

This testimony is Outrageous with a capital O!

It seems that it is not only the middlemen at the RIAA and MPAA who are scared to death by the new business realities.

According to LaRocca, many online sellers begin to steal from stores, "...many times for the first time in their life, so they can continue selling online".

"The thefts then begin to spiral out of control and, before they know it, they quit their jobs, are recruiting accomplices (some are even hiring “boosters”), and are crossing state lines to steal - all so they can support and perpetuate their online selling habit.[/url]" (p. 5. of LaRocca's testimony [judiciary.house.gov].)

Yes, stolen goods are sold online (just as they have been sold 'on the street', at pawn shops, and flea markets, etc., since the dawn of time), but what I didn't know was that everyone who sells online is a criminal who has a habit that is as destructive to them and the people around them as smoking crack.

Did you?


6:43 pm on Sep 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

While disgusted, I am not surprised.

How much longer are we going to have to wait until these "real world dinosaurs" are out of these high positions?

The list of things these guys don't understand about technology grows every day and they scoff at it calling it a problem.

This is a good argument for mandatory retirement ages at this point of our technical age, if you don't use email yet then it may be time to retire.


9:11 pm on Sep 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"Outrageous' yes, but...

There's clearly a gambling quality to auction type buying and selling online. It has been long documented that it can rise to the level of an addiction for some people. I think that quality must play some role in Ebay's success.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people selling our sort of product on ebay and similar sites. But, as an expert in the merchandise, I know auction sellers are making peanuts and buyers are saving very little money considering the effort involved.

Notice that one does no BUY on ebay; one WINS a bid. Ebay says "congratulations!" when you WIN. Your winning means someone else loses which can be a great thrill for some. A mere shopper becomes a "Successful Winner!" That's more Vegas than Walmart.

The idea that anyone would steal to feed this addiction is a notion I'd never considered. It seems very improbable on any significant scale.


10:56 pm on Sep 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

jsinger, I think you overlooked an important detail -- the part which has outraged the OP (and now me) -- in that the Mr. Joseph LaRocca is not discussing the addictive nature of purchasing or buying online, or even winning online auctions. Instead, Joseph LaRocca is saying that it is people like us, the store proprietors (or Ebay sellers), who are addicted to ecommerce and are stealing from B&M stores to 'feed the need,' as it were.

IMHO, Mr. LaRocca needs to be slapped...and by the very people he is trying to represent! Certainly not all websites have a B&M side associated with them, but a cursory glance of these boards will tell you that a sizeable number do. Our B&M has its share of thefts; I don't think I've ever considered that a thief we've caught was going to go home, log on, and sell the widgets on eBay! Man, this has my blood boiling now! We did have an employee involved in such a scam; it was purely for the $$, no 'addiction' involved.

Online marketplaces are being used as the Internet equivalent of pawnshops, but, unlike pawnshops, they are largely unregulated.

Unregulated?! Is he serious? Start a website and tell me we aren't regulated, Mr. LaRocca...ahhhh!

As you have heard today and in previous hearings, committed criminals will always find a way to get the product out of retail stores.

Yeah? Really? Guess what Mr. LaRocca...they'll also find a way to unload the merchandise for a sizeable profit. It's what they do; they're criminals, after all!


11:55 pm on Sep 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Okay, it's always best to go to the (10 page) source which will give me something to read with dinner tonight. The report can't be as screwy as it sounds! Btw, I'm long time B/M and online)



3:04 am on Sep 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Instead, Joseph LaRocca is saying that it is people like us, the store proprietors (or Ebay sellers), who are addicted to ecommerce and are stealing from B&M stores to 'feed the need,' as it were.

No, I don't think he's saying that B/M or e-commerce sellers like us are turning into criminals. Or even that many Ebay sellers are.

He's claiming that some small Ebay sellers, often honest at first, become hooked on the ease of making money selling anonymously online. When they run out of honest wares they start stealing on an ever-larger scale, sometimes selling on Ebay and occasionally building their own websites. The availability of Ebay as a fence sometimes turns honest people into crooks, and crooks into bigger/better crooks, according to LaRocca

BTW, there's only one reference to "addiction" in the 10 page report.

I didn't find anything in the report to be offensive. I'm not an Ebay seller (virtually never). And he doesn't say huge numbers of Ebay sellers are fencing.

We sell via B/M and website.

NetChoice is saying that LaRocca and his organization should apologize to anyone who's ever sold anything online for those comments.

Say what?


7:29 am on Sep 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

And I always thought the "we pass some laws so it looks like we try to solve a problem" syndrom would only exist in my country.

La Rocca sums it all up:

(..)law enforcement, due to lack of manpower and resources, will typically not undertake a suspected Internet fraud case unless there is irrefutable evidence or a written statement of theft.

Right. And the solution to this problem is not new laws laws and regulations that only make it harder for honest merchants but proper funding of law enforcement and police.

Everywhere the same phenomenon. They cut down police budgets and then when there are problems they pass some laws so when a journalist asks what they did against crime, terrorism, whatever they can pretend to have done something.

Q: What have you done to fight identity theft?
A: We have raised the minimum sentence to xy years.

Yeah right. But you have to catch the criminals before they are sentenced.

Q: What have you done to protect all the private information the government collects? Secure servers, Access limitiations, encryption?
A: No, we still carry around the private information of millions of citizens on unencrypted laptops and USB sticks. But we have passed a law that makes it illegal to pass on or sell this information if you happen to find one of our devices.

Makes you sick.


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