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Published: Thursday, 1/13/2005

Toledoan, 20, indicted in $66,525 eBay auction scam

A 20-year-old Toledo man has been indicted by a Lucas County grand jury for allegedly using the Internet auction service eBay to bilk money from people who believed they were buying electronic equipment.

Nicholas A. Knowles, of 5524 Fenwick Dr., was indicted on one count of telecommunications fraud. Investigators said victims from across the country were led to believe they were bidding on such items as plasma televisions and PlayStation computer entertainment systems.

Detective Bart Beavers, who began the investigation in November, said yesterday a laptop computer was the most frequently used item to solicit bids, and that purchases ranged from $100 to $350. "This guy was definitely taking advantage of the system," Detective Beavers said.

The indictment said the Internet fraud began Jan. 30, 2002, and ran until December. However, Detective Beavers said the fraud began in 2000 when Mr. Knowles was a juvenile.

Authorities were given names of potential victims from eBay, and they were sent letters. About 200 people responded, claiming to have lost $66,525 in money that was transferred through checking accounts, credit cards, or Internet payment systems.

Mr. Knowles will be arraigned in Lucas County Common Pleas Court before Judge Charles Doneghy, but a date has not been scheduled.

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