James A. Cracolici sued eBay and PayPal on May 1 in federal court, White Plains, claiming they mishandled a comic book transaction in a diabolical plot by Craig James Saunders of Waterdown, Ontario.
Saunders, the complaint says, fraudulently induced Cracolici into parting with the rare comic book, “knowing he would ultimately never pay for the item.”
He is asking for $23,201, three times the value of the comic book. Danielle C. Cracolici is also a plaintiff.
“I’m the one who wanted the item. I’m the one who paid for it and didn’t receive it,” Saunders said in a telephone interview. “Now he’s calling me a thief. If I were a thief I would have been kicked off eBay years ago.”
Attempts to reach a PayPal spokesperson were unsuccessful, and eBay did not respond to requests for comment.
James Cracolici began collecting comic books with his father nearly 30 years ago when he was 11 years old. One of his acquisitions was Marvel Comics’ “Tales of Suspense #39.”
The March 1963 comic premiered Iron Man, a businessman superhero, seemingly invulnerable on the outside but broken on the inside. The classic comic was created by writers Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby.
Iron Man was an original member of the Avengers superhero team. In 2008, Marvel and Paramount Pictures released the Iron Man action movie, with Robert Downey Jr. as the superhero, in what became a successful film franchise.
Cracolici says his comic book was certified at a high 7.5 restored grade in 2008, and it increased in value with the popularity of the movies.
In March, he decided to sell some of his collection. But with comic book store commissions of 40 percent, he chose the eBay sales platform.
He listed Tales of Suspense #39 at a “Buy it Now” price of $7,680.
Saunders agreed to the price, plus shipping costs, the complaint says.
Cracolici claims that eBay did not allow him use a signature confirmation feature or Federal Express. Instead, he had to use United States Postal Service priority international shipping.
USPS and Canadian Post Office confirmations show that the comic book was delivered on March 27, the complaint states, but Saunders claimed the book was not delivered.
Saunders said he too has been collecting comic books since childhood. He has been trading on eBay for 13 years.
There is no reason, he said, that eBay would not allow the sellers to require a signature for acceptance of the package, and he would have stayed home to receive such a valuable item.
“I was a little leery about it, “he said. “When you want $7,000 to $8,000 of someone’s money, you want to make sure they get the package.”
There were other red flags. He said he was notified that the package had arrived at 6 p.m. but it was only 3:30 p.m., suggesting a tracking problem. And the shipping receipt he eventually received declared the book’s value at $1.
“Why would you lie about the value?” he asked.
Cracolici says eBay’s confirmed delivery and advised him that the case would be closed in his favor. But Saunders allegedly bypassed eBay and requested a refund from PayPal.
PayPal removed $7,680 plus shipping costs from Cracolici’s account and returned the money to Saunders. Cracolici charges the companies and Saunders of fraud, unjust enrichment, conspiracy, deceptive trade practices and racketeering.
He also accuses them of intentional infliction of emotional distress for the “shocking, outrageous and extreme manner” by which Saunders obtained possession of Tales of Suspense #39 that Cracolici had “collected as a child and held on to for 29 years.”
“I don’t like my name being tarnished,” Saunders said. “The guy happens to be a lawyer. He can do whatever lawyers do to accuse people.”