shilling
n. The practice of putting up an item for sale on an online auction and then bidding up the price either by assuming a different identity or by using associates. Also: bid shilling, shill bidding.
shill v, n.

Example Citations:
Last month, a prominent west coast stamp dealer/trader offered a rare 1863 envelope from the Confederacy. Bids quickly jumped to over $ 1,000. Fortunately, one astute collector recognized the cover as a fake. . . . Interestingly, several people connected to this same dealer/trader are under investigation for "shilling" or bidding up auction prices to false or inflated levels.
—Peter Rexford, "Trading On-line: Let Collector Beware," Sacramento Bee, July 17, 1999

If auctioneering is the second-oldest profession, shilling — meaning fake bidding to puff up the sales price — must be the third.

''The thing that would scare me is you have no idea whether the bids are legit or not,'' said Lonie Buchner, who runs Private Collections auction house in Osprey. ''They can keep bumping the bid. It could be the seller himself.''

An auction house that is based in Florida, whether it functions through the Internet or through live bids, must be licensed by the state, and would fall under state laws against shilling, according to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation in Tallahassee.

''Admittedly, the prospect of an Internet auction would raise some new questions in the regulation and law,'' said Doug Phillips, a spokesman for the department.

Regarding shill bidding, eBay spokeswoman Jennifer Chu said: ''We have stated a policy, and it is a strict policy, that anyone who is caught shill bidding is suspended from eBay for 30 days as a first warning. Second offense is removal from the site permanently.''
—Michael Pollick, "Auctions fastest-growing form of Net commerce," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 8, 1999

Earliest Citation:
Watch for shilling, the practice of colluding with someone else or creating a false on-line identity to drive up bidding prices on behalf of the seller. Most auction sites have teams that try to weed out shill bidders, but no site can totally avoid the problem. If the bidder and seller have the same E-mail address, beware. shilling can also be a problem at real auctions, but at least the bidders can usually figure out who in the audience is the shill.
—Marian Burros, "Lots of Antiques on Line, but Not Many Rules," The New York Times, November 12, 1998

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