back to article Feds say dev's 'cookie-stuffer' app fleeced eBay

A Las Vegas web developer has been charged with fleecing eBay out of tens of thousands of dollars by selling a program that planted fraudulent web cookies on the PCs of people visiting the online auctioneer. Dubbed saucekit, the program deposited a cookie on end users' hard drives that contained a unique code identifying …


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  1. Philip Cohen

    What about eBay's deliberate facilitating of fraud

    What about eBay's consiracy to defraud buyers (or criminal facilitation of wire fraud) by its application of non-unique bidding aliases that serve no other purpose than as hides for all the unscrupulous, professional, sophisticated shill-bidding sellers?

    From a buyer’s point of view, the full ugly story of eBay at

    It is about time that some competent authority shone a bright light under this slimy rock.

  2. heyrick Silver badge

    Blackhat SEO

    I clicked on the links mentioned, and got as far as seeing the banner was Blackhat SEO.

    Then I closed the windows.

    Seriously, has any SEO activity been anything other than somewhere in the spectrum between "dodgy" and "possibly illegal"?

    I saw an SEO2 forum a while back where the person, while talking how great her revenue was, said that every page you put up is there to make you money, if it doesn't make money, it gets taken down.

    What a way to think. My site is hundreds of pages. I'll admit a lot of it is probably balls, but there's some useful information in there too. That's the point. And you'll not find one analytic or banner or pop-up or served advert on the entire site. It is NOT there to make me money. I have a job for that. What's the value in something that is only there for the lure of dollar signs, gaming both users and search engine algorithms in an attempt to increase said profits.

    Like this guy. He gamed eBay. But, on the other hand, was what he did technically wrong? Morally, yes. It'll be an interesting thing to watch to see the fallout and who lays claim to what.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm ...

    Might be more to this than meets the eye.

    Seems to me that "The Feds" are seeing fraud in what basically is a flaw in the E-Bay Business Model. It's clear that he is stealing from those who, but for the scam would have gotten the referral money, but it's not clear to me that he is stealing anything from E-Bay. It's a bit like a Record Company being "cheated" out of the chance to pay royalties. That prospect, as we all know, horrifies them.

    Just a thought.

    1. David Kelly 2

      Wrong Conclusion

      Lets say you do not lock the door to your home. The logic of your claim above would say that anyone taking your possessions is not guilty of theft.

      This is theft because one is collecting fees for services that were not rendered.

  4. Mike Kamermans

    So let me get this straight

    Instead of using double-entry book keeping, which we have been using en-masse since 15th century banking took off in Venice, which took off because it allowed us to make sure that funds went where they were supposed to, Ebay will happily pay someone based on the existence of a value in a cookie?

    This case should be thrown out of court for "failure to actually use any kind of right to payment policy".

    Seriously, how hard is it to hand client sites some server-side code that tells ebay which ads were rendered on their served pages, so that the ebay backend can verify an incoming referral link is legit. Add in a referral timeout and you're practically home. It doesn't really take a lot of effort to come up with something that doesn't rely on people not about where they've been on the internet.

    1. Kanhef

      Easier solution

      Check the Referrer [sic] HTTP header. If it doesn't match the cookie information, don't treat it as a valid click.

  5. Rob 30
    Thumb Up

    advertising = lying scumbags

    yay, hopefully it's a blow to advertising in general, one can only hope.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha HA

    Laughs at ebay.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For a business, it makes sense to write web pages in such a way that it promotes your business and part of this may lead to increase sales and revenue. There are plenty of legitimate ways of doing this that aren't blackhat (good inbound links, not linkfarming, good content, etc) - and if I ran a business with an online presence, I wouldn't want to plow time (=money) into an activity like writing useless web pages if they weren't going to increase my revenue in someway. That's the value of SEO for you.

    As for this guy - yup - it looks as if the ebay method is pretty weak; but either way (as much as we may like or hate ebay) , it is still fraud by attempting to acquire money from referrals that never existed.

  8. Sureo

    My heart sings...

    ... with joy. Someone ripping off EBAY for a change? It shouldn't always be a one-way street. I'll celebrate with a beer...

  9. Mike Hanna

    Beta testers

    So what about the people who made money from it? This dude says that other people were making 10k a month off it. Will they get slapped by the feds too?

    If not, where do I sign to be a beta tester?

  10. wakkaoaka


    @heyrick seo and cookie stuffing are two completely different things.

    @rob 30 advertising is a good thing as it increases consumer activity which increases sales, more sales = more productivity, more productivity = more jobs... and what does the economy need right now? jobs.

    @mike hanna there's a high possibility of that.

  11. max allan
    Thumb Up

    Make your own money from cookies

    If you use Quidco, you can get the money back yourself. I think it's 10% of the ebay fees on any purchase you make get paid back to you.

    I know, everyone's going to say "Quidco, isn't that a scam?" No, it isn't. I've had money off them.

    Of course if your cookies have been stuffed, then you probably won't get any Quidco money.

    (It does say you should always clear your cookies before trying to use one of their offers)

    Looking at the number of other services that offer "free money" like that, I think cookie stuffing could be VERY profitable. (I've had £220 from Quidco and rarely remember to use it properly)

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