New bill reportedly targets armed robbers by forcing online sellers to identify themselves

A new bill would help prevent consumers from playing a role in what is known as “organized retail crime” or “smash and grabs”.

There has been an upsurge in large-scale crushes and foreclosures across the country, in which large numbers of people swarm one store at a time, grab whatever they can carry and run out. The new legislation targets the destination of this stolen merchandise: some of it ends up being sold online, through platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace.

“Scammers are enjoying their glory days online,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Chicago). It sponsors the INFORM Consumer Law, which would require platforms to verify the identity of sellers.

“We believe it would protect legitimate consumers and businesses,” Schakowsky said.

The National Retail Federation reports a 57% increase in organized retail crime since the start of the pandemic, fueled in part by a massive increase in online shopping. At a Senate hearing in November, a CVS executive said the average professional thief who targets a CVS gets away with $ 2,000 in merchandise in just two minutes.

“We have legitimate businesses trying to sell their products that get scammed online,” she said. “Until then, unfortunately, it’s difficult for consumers to be in the know. We want to make sure that we eliminate the possibility for scammers and con artists to sell online.”

Schakowsky said his bill enjoyed bipartisan and bicameral support.

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