Am I overstating the case?
No. Because the option of terminating all coin auctions on eBay was definitely an option before eBay came up with the current policy. I heard that directly from a lawyer at eBay when I was making a case for a stronger position by the Coin Watch Committee to terminate batches of sellers involved in Numismatic Fraud who could be shown to be in a collusive arrangement by tracking the money back to the source of manufacture. At the time (2012) eBay controlled more of the finances than they do now. The use of sales and payment information by the managers looking for fraud was stopped (on the basis of privacy) and all of us lost access to the needed databases to find these criminals dumping frauds into the US.
The fact that eBay was caught between a rock and a hard place was clear and the same lawyer explained it to me personally. Court cases filed in places like France, China and Spain where the frauds were being made and sold would have gone against eBay. There was no legal defense available to eBay. The manufacture and sale was an absolutely legal business in the home locations. It is only in the US where the law is being violated and it is the person who imports the illegal article or articles that breaks the law. The sale is legal at point of origin and as long as the article is outside the US it remains legal. The seller is NOT the importer, the buyer is. So the result would be to make each buyer of a fraud the ONLY legally responsible party and a double victim.
The policy of eBay was and is not to sell replicas not properly marked and not to sell fraudulent coins. Unfortunately eBay uses the word "counterfeit" in a way not applicable to numismatics. I do not believe that policy has changed at all. The overseas makers of Numismatic Forgeries objected not to the policy but rather to the enforcement of those policies against their "lawful" business interests. The efforts to restrict sales of Numismatic Forgeries and terminate sellers is what the sellers of Numismatic Forgeries were opposed to and over which they threatened lawsuits.
So eBay disbanded the Coin Watch Committee and all other similar committees then operating and fell back on the defense of being only a venue with no expertise on staff who could decide which articles were good or bad. Buyers were advised to be aware of what they are buying. When eBay contacted sellers all the seller needed to say was that they "did not know" or that "they believed the item they were selling was legal and the party reporting them was wrong". Caveat Emptor is the only valid defense provided the venue has no claim to expertise. The eBay platform is not an auctioneer like Stacks, or Heritage
with experts on staff. It is a venue like the owner of the land where a weekly flea market sets up. The sale is strictly between buyer and seller and eBay has NO responsibility for what the seller says.
After the CWC was disbanded the eBay managers were shuffled to different sales areas so that they would no longer have any "expertise" derived from supervising experts on coins or other things. Pertinax
You also say:
When eBay did make that statement, it seemed to make no effort to police it or to suspend or expel such sellers, or fine them.
Before the CWC was disbanded in 2013 we were averaging HUNDREDS of permanent expulsions for sellers daily and the fees paid were confiscated by eBay. One committee member calculated that we had terminated auctions in 2012 that would have resulted in more than $1,000,000 in eBay fees had we taken no steps. So eBay was very serious back then.
I was a direct result of actions by the various committees that had reduced fraud on eBay to an historic low of about 3-5% instead of the current double digit rate of fraud. My own observations of World coins results in an average of 25-33% of all auctions being some violation of eBay rules. Pertinax
Then you say:
Moreover, there was/is no easy way to report forgeries as forgeries (you have to use ambiguous terms such as inappropriate description) direct to eBay and when I used the reporting mechanism, I never got an answer.
This statement is correct now but has only been true for the past 7 years after eBay moved to Caveat Emptor as the sole defense. I used to review world coin auctions 6 days a week for eBay and I reported an average of 200 frauds a day - all of which were terminated. Other members did the same or more. All it did was get the attention of the big players (forgery rings) overseas who even contacted the US State Department over the anti-(fill in offending country) bias in doing business on eBay. Pertinax
Then you say:
eBay is more than big enough to afford to have people to respond and investigate and I suspect that there would be plenty of volunteers on CCF who would be willing to help eBay police this.
This was actually the solution agreed upon by the ANA
and eBay regarding the enforcement of HPA which was put in place about 14-15 years ago when the CWC was set up. The committees were staffed by invited professional authenticators and dealers (primarily retired people). We were monitored by eBay managers for each individual discipline and we reported to Safety and Trust. The entire process of termination took minutes from report to termination not hours.
Finally you say:
Not having that mechanism and not having clarified its policy, seems to me to indicate that eBay really does not care whether replica coins or forgeries are sold on its site.
From the outside that may seem to be the case, however, legally there is no other position that eBay could adopt. Even attempts at restricting shipment from some countries met with strong resistance and threats of lawsuits. France was actually the only location that went along with such a restriction. That restriction against shipping counterfeits and forgeries to the US is still active but it is an "open secret" that all you have to do is ask the seller to do you a favor and the Forgery will arrive in the mail. Of course this request for a favor is actually an admission of guilt by the buyer which could be introduced by the seller in a court of law. Good thing that US authorities take no steps in that direction. I think they are completely aware that it would be wrong to do so.
Notice in all this discussion I have avoided calling these fraudulent coins Counterfeit. When the CWC was disbanded I had finally convinced the eBay Manager of the Coin Watch Committee that there was a valid distinction between a Contemporary Circulating Counterfeit and Numismatic Forgery. Even the ANA
recognizes that Contemporaneous Circulating Counterfeits that are not monetized in any country are legal to own, possess or sell as long as they are properly described.
The problem is now and has always been FRAUD in sales.
The ONLY solution is an educated group of buyers who will refuse to buy this trash on eBay. Greed of re-sellers and the belief in discovering rarities on eBay is the big lie.
My book on Counterfeit Portrait 8Rs is available from Amazon http://ccfgo.com/TheUnrealReales
or from me directly if you want it signed.