An eBay seller from Co Durham has become the first man in the UK to be prosecuted for online auction fixing.
Paul Barrett, 39, from Stanley, could be fined as much as £50,000 after Skipton Magistrates' Court found him guilty of bidding on his own items to increase prices.
Legal action was launched against the minibus driver after officers from North Yorkshire Trading Standards (NYTS) were tipped off that he 0ly advertised a vehicle on the website.
A subsequent investigation found he was selling goods under the pseudonym "shanconpaul", then bidding on them through the identity "paulthebusman".
Jo Boutflower, head of enforcement, intelligence and process at NYTS, said: "I think people do it either themselves or by getting friends and family to bid on their items and don't think they're doing anything wrong but actually they are breaking the law.
"We certainly hope this case is a bit of a wake-up call to people who do trade on eBay, or other auction sites."
Barrett pleaded guilty to 10 breaches of trading regulations. The case was adjourned for sentencing at Bradford Crown Court on May 21.
Copyright © Press Association 2010