Internet-auction sites allow people to sell and buy, at the click of a mouse or with a push on a cellphone button, almost anything from brand bags to resort condominiums to moldy Imperial Japanese Army uniforms. And, according to a 2005 report by Nomura Research Institute, in Japan it's a market that is not just booming, but skyrocketing -- from 1.34 trillion yen (approximately $11 billion) then to a projected 2 trillion yen-plus by 2009.

But what if you successfully outbid all-comers, pay for your purchase -- then wait in vain for it to arrive? Worse, what if your vendor is overseas, and your online auction operator doesn't compensate for failed overseas transactions?

That's exactly what befell a 43-year-old Taiwanese man who lives in California, and who asked to be identified only as Chang. He paid a Kobe-based seller 320,000 yen for a classic model train through Yahoo! Japan Auctions.