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Wisconsin Woman Unknowingly Buys Stolen Computer On eBay

Wisconsin Woman Unknowingly Buys Stolen Computer On eBay

POSTED: 12:40 am CST February 15, 2008MILWAUKEE -- Before Jennifer Janz bought a new computer, an almost identical model on eBay caught her eye.

 "I thought, you know, I've been looking at these and looking at these, I'm going to bid on it and see what happens, and I won it," Janz said.

 She may have won the bidding, but when the computer arrived, she realized didn't get what she bargained for.

 "And on the desktop there was all sorts of stuff, there was pictures and iTunes music, and somebody had just stopped using this computer and it got to me," she said.

 Meanwhile, more than a thousand miles away, in Miami Beach, Fla., Giovanni Bonelli was missing the computer that had been stolen right off the desk in his street-front office.

 "I accepted that I had my computer stolen, that I wouldn't see it again," Bonelli said. "Two weeks later, I get a call from a woman in Wisconsin."

 "I said, 'Well, did you lose your computer or sell your computer,'" Janz said, "And he said, 'No, it was stolen.'"

 Janz had found Giovanni's name on the computer she bought and tracked him down.

 "He was thrilled, I mean yelling, happy in the phone just kinda going crazy," Janz said.

 "I was ecstatic. I wondered how. I thought, thank God it was found. Someone has it.'"

 But it's what happened next that neither of them could believe.

 "It was as if nobody cared," Janz said.

 First eBay instructed Janz to contact the police.

 "And they told me, 'Well, why don't you send this back to the person it belongs to.' And I said, 'Because I'm out $600, and a crime's been committed,'" Janz said.

 Then she called PayPal, the financial arm of eBay.

 "The person on the phone said you need to send it back to the person who sold it to you. I said, 'I'm not sending it back to the person that sold it to me. It's stolen,'" she said. "And they said to me, 'The seller, the person who sold it to me has agreed to give you your money back if you send back the computer -- although you'll have to pay for shipping costs.' I said, 'You gotta be kidding me.'"

 Getting nowhere, she shipped the computer to the Miami Beach Police Department, where Giovanni had first reported it stolen. But instead of contacting the seller, the police there ask Janz to do it.

 "I assume if something's been stolen they're going to be interested -- hmm, maybe not," Janz said.

 Janz is out the money. Giovanni's computer is still in an evidence room, and in the end, two people linked by one stolen computer are left to wonder what went wrong.

 "I want to know when the end is. Where's this trail going go," Bonelli said. "Who is accountable? Am I accountable if I buy an item on the Internet that was stolen?"

 "Through all this I keep thinking, 'What if it would have been me? What if I have something stolen from me?' I would like for someone to try even half as hard as I have to get it back to me," Janz said.


Exposing the sleazery of ebaY and PayPal


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