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Berkeley student fleeces UK in eBay scam

Flees to Turkey. International, or what?

Police are trying to trace a Turkish man concerning an alleged fraud carried out on online auction outfit eBay.

Mehmet Onay - who until recently was studying business administration at University of California Berkeley - is thought to have conned people out of an estimated £125,000 ($190,000).

Onay ran a business - Berkeley Electronics - while studying, selling items using eBay's UK operation. Up until a couple of weeks ago he had a reputation as a trusted supplier with a positive rating on eBay.

But following the latest batch of auctions people became suspicious when their goods failed to be delivered.

Goods for sale included high-value items including music players, games consoles, digital cameras, mobile phones, pocket PCs, PDAs, camcorders and laptops.

When angry customers tried to contact him they were told he had returned to Turkey.

Police in the US are investigating the case along with officials from UC Berkeley. A spokeswoman for UC Berkeley told The Register that the campus first learned of the alleged fraud last Wednesday.

"UC Berkeley campus police immediately began a criminal investigation and have also requested that federal law enforcement authorities look into the matter.

"It is also being investigated by campus computing officials and the university's Office of Student Conduct," she said.

She also confirmed that Mehmet Onay was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and attended classes in the autumn of 2001 and spring 2002.

Although officials from UC Berkeley declined to comment directly on the case, they said that it was against university regulations for Berkeley's email or Web sites to be used for commercial purposes of any kind. In cases of criminal misuse, individuals would face prosecution under state and federal laws, they said.

Said the spokeswoman: "The University of California, Berkeley takes very seriously the misuse of its resources. We are committed to a thorough investigation of this case and will cooperate fully with other law enforcement agencies investigating the allegations."

But those hit by the alleged scam are hopping mad at the apparent lack of interest seemingly displayed by eBay UK. One victim, who asked not to be named, said that the lack of contact was as if eBay didn't want to know.

No one at eBay UK was available for comment at the time of writing. However, it's understood that an investigation is underway. ®

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