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Attorney General Marty Jackley

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Internet Auction Fraud Targeted


(Pierre) – Attorney General Larry Long, the Federal Trade Commission and 28 state attorneys general have launched a law enforcement crackdown targeting Internet auction scams that bilked thousands of consumers out of their money and their merchandise. The crackdown, Operation Bidder Beware, coordinated by the FTC in conjunction with the National Association of Attorney’s General, resulted in over 55 criminal and civil cases. 

“As the online auction industry continues to grow, so do the opportunities for crooks to rip-off bidders,” said Long. “The sweep is a serious reminder that every type of sale, whether it is by phone, face-to-face or online is still buyer beware.”

Attorney General Larry Long said his investigation resulted in the filing of an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” in Hughes County Circuit Court with Wilma and Curt Hjellum of MitchellSouth Dakota. As part of the Assurance, Hjellums admit no wrongdoing, but did agree to improve business and shipping practices. 

In conjunction with the internet auction sweep, federal and state law enforcers are putting a concentrated effort into a consumer education campaign to alert consumers about Internet auction fraud and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim. Consumer tips include:

  • Be familiar with the auction site  
  • Understand auction site policies and determine what protection they may provide  
  • Avoid doing business with sellers you cannot identify, especially those who try to lure you off the auction site with promises of a better deal.  
  • Protect your privacy by not giving out your social security number, credit card number or bank account information until you have checked out the seller and the online payment service the seller may be using.  
  • Save all transaction information.  
  • If you have problems during a transaction, try to work them out with the seller, buyer or site operator. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with Division of Consumer Protection 800-300-1986 or and the FTC at or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).