Reporter – Leigh Hester
Former Vance County commissioner Scott Hughes has been accused of eBay fraud after seventeen non-existent Sony PlayStation 3 Slim consoles were posted on the auction site under his eBay ID.
Starting July 19th, 2011 and over the course of several days, seventeen PS3’s were listed at $200 plus shipping under the website’s Buy It Now terms, which require the purchaser to pay for an item via PayPal or a credit card at the time of ordering the item instead of the normal bidding process. All 17 of these items were sold to customers across the United States, some buyers bought more than 1 unit, but none of the buyers were sent the Playstations as promised. The total amount of the purchases in question was over $3,500.
The PlayStations were sold under the eBay profile name of “mastermedic69,” which, according to eBay records, is a “Verified” account belonging to Scott Hughes and eBay shows the email address associated with the account as firstname.lastname@example.org. The same email address is linked on the internet to Hughes Insurance Agency of Henderson, NC.
None of the buyers who purchased and paid for PlayStation 3 consoles from mastermedic69 have received the consoles they ordered and paid for. Fifteen buyers as of this writing have posted negative feedback on the page for mastermedic69. “Feedback” is a regulating device used by eBay to help prevent scammers from selling large numbers of items to unsuspecting customers.
Incident reports have been made by several of the jilted customers to both Henderson City Police and the Vance County Sheriff’s Department, alleging Hughes has committed fraud and theft.
One such customer received an email on August 10th from mastermedic69, which stated, “Unfortunately a partner of mine used my ebay account and fraudulent [sic] sold playstations that do not exist.” The email went on to provide a phone number and was signed, “Scott Hughes.”
Hughes in a telephone interview confirmed that the Sony PlayStation 3 consoles had in fact been posted under his eBay ID. He also stated that his eBay and PayPal accounts were hacked by a former girlfriend, who also had a debit card attached to the PayPal account. After a bad breakup, the ex-girlfriend, identified as “Jennifer” moved to Durham, according to Hughes. Hughes said he had provided the ex-girlfriend’s name and information to the Vance County Sheriff’s Department, and pointed out that his eBay Feedback rating prior to this incident was overwhelmingly positive.
Hughes served as a county commissioner from 2006 until 2010, but lost the 2010 election to Tommy Hester. On July 20 of this year, Hughes was arrested for possession of heroin by the Vance County Sheriff’s Office and was released on a $5000 secured bond to await an August 22 trial.
Home in Henderson was contacted by an unsatisifed buyer after they realized the transaction was a scam. The buyer was unable to contact Hughes and reached out to media in the area for help. HiH interviewed this buyer and contacted several other buyers as well, each gave a similar story of purchasing the units and not being able to contact Hughes regarding the transaction. Buyers opened disputes with PayPal and were refunded their money in full. During our investigation, Hughes contacted buyers regarding the incident and offered help resolving the issue. According to the eBay feedback page for Hughes, one buyer suggests that the issue has been resolved by posting positive feedback stating “Seller worked with me to resolve fraudulent purchase made on his account.”