Sorry for what must have seemed like a stupid question. I saw the New York but thought that might be where you are. (And maybe you are). But I needed to know where the seller is.
If you have been defrauded by an eBay seller from New York, you have two years to press misdemeanor
charges for larceny
(fraud of this sort in NYS is covered by the theft
statute) and 5 years to press felony charges for theft by fraud. The amount of money that this item cost you would determine whether it was a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony would involve money or property in excess of $1,000.
You would bring these charges by filing a report with the police in the county where the theft occurred and let the police know that you wished to press charges. Note that for this to be a crime the seller would have to knowingly take your money and property with the intent to deprive you permanently of that. Here's the felony Larceny statute
in NY for theft more than $1,000 and less than $3,000.
As this involved an eBAy sale, you can expect the police to try to tell you that this is a contract matter that you can take up in small claims court
or in regular civil court. They are right. You could also seek to get your money back that way. If the police more or less turn you away by telling you that this is a civil matter , you can go directly to the DA's office in the same county, ask to talk to an Assistant Disctrict Attorney and file your complaint
with them too. DA's have discretion over what cases they take on and prosecute, and they could also tell you that you'd have a better chance in civil court where the burden of proof is more favorable to you than in Criminal
Court where the state has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubrt. I can't tell you whether or not they'd turn you away. That would depend on the infomation you tell them and whether they think that they could prove a fraud beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you do want to pursue civil remedies rather than criminal, the maximum amount you can recover in a New York Small Claims court is $5,000. An eBay deal is considered a binding contract . The statute of limitations on a contract in NYS is 6 years. You do not need a lawyer to bring a claim in Small Claims Court.
Edited by FranL on 1/2/2011 at 3:58 AM EST