Tech Industry

Mounties launch probe into PlayStation 2 Net store

Canadian police launch an investigation into a Web store that customers say sold them Sony PlayStation 2 consoles but has yet to deliver them.

Canadian police have launched an investigation into a Web store that customers say sold them Sony PlayStation 2 consoles but has yet to deliver them.

Detective Barry Elliott of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed Monday that his office is investigating the company that runs Web sites PS2storecanada.com and PS2storeusa.com, but declined to give specifics.

On Friday, the main branches of the Canadian and U.S. Better Business Bureaus issued a warning to consumers about Web sites that falsely advertise the availability of popular electronic games. The warning came after hundreds of customers from both countries complained they had paid for but did not receive a console.

Scott Byers, the operator of the Web sites, told CNET News.com on Friday that he shipped consoles to every customer who paid for one. He said the problems stem from a different Web store that operated under the same name--PS2storecanda.com--which ran off with its customers' money. Customers had mixed up the two companies, Byers said.

"We are a new company getting together slowly," said Byers, who is from New Brunswick, Canada. "If I was a fraud, would I be trying to clear my name? I'd be long gone."

He said that Sony had agreed to give him access to 15,000 PlayStation 2 consoles.

"If he has 15,000 PlayStation 2s, then I have a Lear jet in my office," said a Sony representative. "That's how ridiculous it is. I've given his name to the authorities?Needless to say he does not have 15,000 PlayStation 2's."

Sony said that only authorized dealers are receiving the consoles and that Byers' Web sites are not among them.

Like Beenie Babies, Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle Me Elmo dolls before it, the popular console has touched off a wild search by thousands of consumers. Some sites selling the PlayStation 2 have crashed under the waves of game hunters.

That, perhaps, is why some customers agreed to send photocopies of their credit cards--front and back--to Byers' sites. The credit card companies have said this is highly unusual and that sensitive information is printed on the cards.

A series of safety measures have been put in place, however, that prevent the information from being used by someone other than the owner, said Visa International spokeswoman Cheryl Heinonen.

She strongly recommended that consumers never fax photocopies of their credit cards to any store and that they shop at well-known and reputable stores.