Help Combat the Online Sale of Stolen Goods

Organized retail crime (ORC) is a complex, multi-faceted problem and combatting it requires a comprehensive approach. SB 301 is a critical part of that effort, as one of the key factors driving the increase in ORC is the availability and use of online marketplaces by ORC networks as a “fence” for stolen goods.

Through the use of third-party accounts, online marketplaces can provide a seller access to a global market of consumers plus a shield of anonymity from law enforcement. ORC rings have been known to use numerous online accounts on multiple marketplaces to sell stolen goods at-scale. Consumers hunting for online bargains are largely unaware that they may become unwitting accomplices to these crimes. They may also be exposing themselves to health risks from items like cosmetics or baby formula that are improperly stored.

While some online marketplaces have made significant investments to root out criminal behavior, an industry-wide standard is needed. SB 301 mirrors H.R. 5502, the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness for Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act, a bipartisan effort supported by both brick-and-mortar retailers and online marketplaces. It will bring much needed transparency to online marketplaces, providing consumers with the real, verified business contact information for high-volume, third-party sellers. The bill will also provide retailers and law enforcement with information to investigate the source of possible stolen or counterfeit items when they are discovered.

While a federal solution would be ideal, California cannot wait for Congressional action while retail theft runs rampant in our state. We can no longer allow organized crime to hide behind phony electronic identities and peddle stolen goods to unsuspecting consumers. SB 301 will help bring these criminal enterprises out of the shadows.