SO you think the anonymous penny auction sites are a big problem right?
They are, and not to downplay the fact that the scale of the kid in his parent’s basement, or a scheming couple, or someone with bigger resources to rip off even more consumers isn’t unethical, dirty and just flat out thievery, it is… but, since I have a knack for investigating and really, really take it personally when a business rips not just me, but anyone off. I felt led to share this TED Talk that I came across recently. No, it’s not related to penny auctions, but it’s about an organization dedicated to exposing and going after fraudsters around the globe.
Enter Global Witness – TED Talk My wish: To launch a new era of openness in business by Charmian Gooch.
What exactly does Global Witness do?
“We investigate, we report, to uncover the people really responsible for funding conflict– for stealing millions from citizens around the world, also known as state looting, and for destroying the environment.
And then we campaign hard to change the system itself.
And we’re doing this because so many of the countries rich in natural resources
like oil or diamonds or timber are home to some of the poorest and most
dispossessed people on the planet.
And much of this injustice is made possible by currently accepted business practices
And one of these is anonymous companies.
Now we’ve come up against anonymous companies in lots of our investigations,
like in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we exposed how secretive deals
involving anonymous companies had deprived the citizens of one of the poorest countries on the planet of well over a billion dollars.”
And, you can gather, just from those examples, anonymous companies are alive and well and penny auctions are just a little fish to fry in the world of big sharks…
In Charmian’s Ted talk she goes on to share what I have found to be true about penny auctions and know about all too well…..
“But, for every case that we and others expose there are so many more that will remain hidden away because of the current system. And it’s just a simple truth that some of the people responsible for outrageous crimes, for stealing from you and me and millions of others, they are remaining faceless and they are escaping accountability and they’re doing this with ease, and they’re doing it using legal structures. And really, that is unfair. Well, you might well ask, what exactly is an anonymous company, and can I really set one up, and use it, without anyone knowing who I am? Well, the answer is, yes you can. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to see some of that for yourself, so let me show you. Well first you need to work out where you want to set it up. Now, at this point you might be imagining one of those lovely tropical island tax havens but here’s the thing, shockingly, my own hometown, London, and indeed the U.K., is one of the best places in the world to set up an anonymous company. And the other, even better, I’m afraid that’s America. Do you know, in some states across America you need less identification to open up a company than you do to get a library card, like Delaware, which is one of the easiest places in the world to set up an anonymous company.”
It’s true and I have found so many sites in the past that are doing this.
And she goes on to talk about just how easy it is for anyone to open up an online store – add pictures and collect money from consumers.
And this is where I take such an issue with shadow/strawman penny auction sites.
They set up shop, which really just means they buy a domain name: cost $0.99-$10/year, purchase hosting,
Penny Auctions over the years that we’ve found to pay for fake reviews, set up sites and throw up pictures of items, collect money from consumers and get this NEVER ship anything EVER. Then there’s the sites with offshore bank accounts, offshore business names – shell corporations, Delaware sole corporations, businesses in Hong Kong but operating in the US. When will it stop? Check out the Hall of Shame section here to see examples of a lot of really shady penny auction sites… and also, “Legit or not?” for questionable business practices.
” Anonymous companies might be the norm right now but it wasn’t always this way. Companies were created to give people a chance to innovate and not have to put everything on the line. Companies were created to limit financial risk, they were never intended to be used as a moral shield. Companies were never intended to be anonymous, and they don’t have to be.
” and I could NOt agree more… But what really piques my interest into Global Witness is the questions they are raising, the care that they have for mankind and the time And so I come to my wish. My wish is for us to know who owns and controls companies so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good. Together let’s ignite world opinion, change the law, and launch a new era of openness in business. So what might this look like? Well, imagine if you could go online and look up the real owner of a company. Imagine if this data were open and free, accessible across borders for citizens and businesses and law enforcement alike. Imagine what a game changer that would be. So how are we going to do this? Well, there is only one way. Together, we have to change the law globally to create public registries which list the true owners of companies and can be accessed by all with no loopholes. And yes, this is ambitious, but there is momentum on this issue, and over the years I have seen the sheer power of momentum, and it’s just starting on this issue. There is such an opportunity right now. And the TED community of creative and innovative thinkers and doers across all of society could make the crucial difference. You really can make this change happen. Now, a simple starting point is the address behind me for a Facebook page that you can join now to support the campaign and spread the word. It’s going to be a springboard for our global campaigning. And the techies among you, you could really help us create a prototype public registry to demonstrate what a powerful tool this could be. Campaign groups from around the world have come together to work on this issue. The U.K. government is already on board; it supports these public registries. And just last week, the European Parliament came on board with a vote 600 to 30 in favor of public registries.
So check out Global Witness’ website and I’d like to stand with Charmian Gooch and urge you to do the same. Let’s end anonymous companies, let’s change the world.
With this in mind, I am beginning to create a brand new and improved penny auction directory here on PAW with not just what kind of penny auction site it is, what their bids cost, etc., but we will now only feature a directory of sites with sites that ONLY display their real owner’s names and company information.
As always your feedback, emails, comments and forum discussions help us to out the bad and find the sites to bid at where you might have a chance of winning items, but remember – chance comes into play and your money is at stake.
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