New Internet swindle alleged

By Bryan Corliss

Herald Writer

A Lynnwood man with links to a company accused of fraudulently selling computers over the Internet now faces charges that he simply picked up where his old company left off.

The state Attorney General’s office on Monday filed suit against Hans Nelson of Lynnwood, accusing him of violating the state Consumer Protection Act by failing to deliver products customers had paid for and failing to respond to complaints.

According to the suit, Nelson is a former manager of Aliendistribution, an Everett business that the state sued in March, accusing it of fraudulently selling computers through online auctions at eBay.

The Aliendistribution suit was Washington’s first alleged instance of cyberfraud.

The case against Nelson grew out of the earlier investigation, said Paula Selis, a senior counselor in the consumer protection division of the Attorney General’s Office.

As the state looked into the company’s activities, investigators discovered that Nelson had played a much larger role in Aliendistribution’s activities than originally thought, she said. And "it became evident that he had all these other companies that were clones, if you will."

Some 20 people from out of state have filed complaints against Nelson’s companies, Selis said. Their losses ranged from $45 to $500.

The civil penalty for violating the consumer protection act is $2,000 per violation.

Nelson does not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached for comment Monday.

According to the state’s suit, Nelson started to work for Aliendistribution owner David Buckner in November 2000. His first job was assembling and shipping the equipment that Aliendistribution’s online customers had ordered through eBay auction. But he became the business’s manager a few weeks later, according to the state’s attorneys.

On Nov. 28, 2000, eBay suspended Aliendistribution from trading, after receiving a number of complaints from customers who said they’d ordered and paid for computers from the company, but never received them.

The next day, the state alleges, Buckner and Nelson began selling computer parts on eBay under a new name, Kids and Computers. They again were suspended from eBay in January, when it was discovered that the new name was a front for the old company.

Following eBay’s suspension of Kids and Computers, Nelson went into business for himself on eBay, engaging in the same business practices, the state alleges.

Nelson originally set himself up as "The Auctiongirls." He also sold computer components, games and software on eBay under the names "Reallygoodsoftware," "Powergadets" and "Thatsoutrageous." Each business ended up being suspended by eBay after a number of complaints from consumers who had paid for products that had not been delivered.

The state alleges that Nelson used false identities to gain access to eBay.

When he created The Auctiongirls, for example, he identified it on an eBay information page as being run by three women — Sally, Jenni and Kerri, according to the suit. On the eBay user identification Web site, he listed "Kerri Krane" of New York as the business’s administrative contact.

If consumers tried to call The Auctiongirls, they got a voicemail box for "Kerri Krane." Consumers who wanted to contact The Auctiongirls by e-mail were given instructions to e-mail Kerri Krane, however, the messages were directed to Nelson, who used that name as a pseudonym, the state alleges.

The suit against Buckner and two other defendants in the original Aliendistribution is still in the courts, Sellis said. Buckner, who has moved from Everett to Michigan, did not respond to the charges against him, so the state obtained a default order and plans to move against him shortly, she said.

You can call Herald Writer Bryan Corliss at 425-339-3454 or send e-mail to corliss@heraldnet.com.

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