The Aaron Hernandez saga gets more and more bizarre as it appears that one or more vigilantes have taken to eBay, targeting fans they believe are trying to cash in on the NFL star's notoriety.
Hernandez has been charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, but that has not prevented sales of his jersey on the online auction site to skyrocket, spiking to figures as high as $3,050.
However, those inflated prices may have been driven by at least one rogue eBay trader, who placed repeated bids on Hernandez jerseys only to refuse to pay after winning the auctions.
One seller obtained a winning bid of $305 for a Hernandez jersey and a signed mini-helmet, only to receive a hostile message from the supposed buyer.
"I don't think that I will be getting paid," the seller wrote to Yahoo! Sports. "The person emailed me stating I should 'burn the jersey and stop seeking money for that morons (sic) actions'. Looks like the person has some kind of social agenda."
On Wednesday alone, Yahoo! Sports was able to find details of 15 Hernandez jerseys the supposed buyer had "bought," totaling $3,806 at an average of just over $250 a jersey.
To put the matter into context, regular replica jerseys – especially second-hand ones – for a second-tier star might routinely fetch around $20. An authentic jersey actually worn in a game by former Patriot Wes Welker could be bought outright for $450.
Another seller told Yahoo! Sports that the buyer "does not pay."
"I had no response from the buyer but I recieved (sic) several emails from other ebay sellers saying that he was a ripoff," the seller said.
eBay did not respond to multiple emails seeking clarification on Wednesday. However, guidelines posted on the website indicated that eBay does not "collect payment, or force a member to complete a transaction," though it may take other action.
Fraud legislation is complicated in relation to online transactions such as these, but there is a possibility the phantom buyer could face serious repercussions.
"The most likely remedy for the unfortunate seller might be to seek punitive damages in the civil courts," said Los Angeles attorney Christopher W. Blaylock. "They would need to prove intentional interference with a prospective economic relationship. Given the situation here, there is certainly a possibility that criteria would be met."
Blaylock also said that in such instances there would be a possibility of investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
Almost immediately after Hernandez was charged with murder last Wednesday, his jersey and other associated memorabilia were no longer available from the NFL online store or the Patriots team shop. In fact, the Patriots hosted an exchange program where fans could trade in their Hernandez jersey for a different one.
The prices for his jersey immediately started bringing big dollars for sellers. Many wondered why someone would pay top-dollar for an accused killer's jersey. At least one of the "buyers" wasn't.
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- Aaron Hernandez