Pair of Arizona auto auctioneers to pay back more than $250K for inflating bids
PHOENIX — A pair of Arizona auto auctioneers will pay back more than $250,000 in restitution as a result of a lawsuit that accused them of driving up bids.
Auction Nation will pay $210,000 and Auction Yard will return $50,000 as part of consent agreements obtained by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
The companies, through a process called house bidding, allegedly had sellers and auctioneers place bids to raise prices to a reserve price to ensure a sale.
They were additionally accused of placing several bids under multiple bidder numbers. Sometimes, items sold to house bidders were relisted in future auctions.
The December 2020 lawsuit also accused Auction Nation and Auction Yard of having the ability to view max bids of real bidders, allowing their software to automatically outbid others until the max price was reached.
“Whether live or online, auction companies conducting business in Arizona must do so with integrity and transparency,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a press release.
“Bidders may face off with each other but should not have to contend with undercover shills and orchestrated house bidding designed to drive up the prices.”
The companies allegedly engaged in house bidding prior to December 2018 despite user agreements prohibiting it.
Auction Nation and Auction Yard updated their agreements after being alerted of an investigation by the AG’s office, but many bidders said they were still unaware of the practice.
The AG’s office identified about 100 bidders eligible for restitution.
Any additional consumers who believe they are eligible should file an AGO consumer complaint online or call 602-542-5763.