Auction Web sites told to beef up security

The National Police Agency on Thursday formally asked three major online auction providers to improve the security and supervision to combat increasing fraud and obscenity cases.

The request was made to Yahoo!, which runs Yahoo Auctions Japan, ThirdWave, which operates My-Trade, and Rakuten, operator of Rakuten Free Market Auction.

The police want the providers to bolster customer identification procedures to prevent fraud and the sale of stolen goods.

They also asked for better supervision aimed at determining whether illegal goods are being traded and for information about illegal goods to be removed from providers’ auction sites.

Internet auction sites require bidders to register their e-mail addresses and other personal information.

The services’s popularity have leapt in the past two years and are available at several hundred Web sites. The largest in Japan, Yahoo! Auction, was set up in September and has hundreds of thousands of members.

However, the incidence of fraud and other crimes involving auction sites has also increased dramatically.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department officials say that since the start of this year, they have received more than 60 complaints involving the services, some of which are under investigation.

In March, the Ishikawa Prefectural Police arrested an entrepreneur in Tokyo on suspicion of selling obscene videos on Yahoo’s site.

In other cases, customers have been defrauded after making their payments.