Which branch of law enforcement handles cross-border crime?
March 31, 2013 7:33 PM   Subscribe

I recently bought a laptop over eBay that turned out to have a faulty monitor. The seller lives in NYC - I live in Toronto, Canada. I sent it back to him (paying the return shipping out of pocket) and left negative feedback because he was rude and condescending to me on the phone when I was making the shipping arrangements. (May be a teeny-bit NSFW for language below the cut.)

When I left the negative feedback on his profile, he went totally ballistic and phoned me several times, never leaving voicemail. I didn't take his calls. He sent me messages through ebay trying to guilt me into changing my feedback by telling me that his eBay business feeds his family. In hopes of ending the vaguely threatening messages that he left me, I changed my feedback to neutral but left a negative comment about how he was rude and handled the whole transaction poorly.

The phone has not stopped ringing since I submitted the new feedback. So I finally answered it on the third call and he is yelling at me, calling me a fucking bitch for leaving neutral feedback. I don't take kindly to verbal abuse, so I hung up. When he called right back I told him calmly that if he called again I would be seeing about filing harrassment charges. The phone continues to ring so I have simply turned it off.

Luckily I answered on speaker and had friends witness his tantrum. I am (obvs.) filing a harrassment complaint with eBay, and I'd like to file a complaint with a law enforcement agency in his city - only I don't know who to call. Ideas, suggestions?
posted by empatterson to Human Relations (12 answers total)
What's the crime?
posted by Ideefixe at 7:38 PM on March 31, 2013

Response by poster: Harassment?
posted by empatterson at 7:39 PM on March 31, 2013

I'm not sure what crime you're referring to here, but start with the New York Police Department. Don't be surprised, however, if nothing comes of your complaint.
posted by dfriedman at 7:39 PM on March 31, 2013

Have you contacted eBay about this entire transaction? They might be a good first step, especially if you have not received your money back.
posted by ruhroh at 7:39 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: If you know his address, look up which NYPD Precinct covers his area and call them to speak with someone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:42 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: Start with the NYPD, but this is a federal crime, so you might also call the FBI's New York office.
posted by Etrigan at 7:45 PM on March 31, 2013

Yes, start with the NYPD. A seller just went to jail in NY for repeated, extreme harassment.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:59 PM on March 31, 2013

you really need to record one of those calls. My dad's an attorney and has made me realize the power of hard evidence when trying to convince others whose business it is to doubt, police etc. Good luck.
posted by halatukit at 8:16 PM on March 31, 2013

you really need to record one of those calls.

You really need to NOT record one of those calls, as, dependend on the jurisdiction, that can be illegal if the person you're speaking with doesn't know they're being recorded, which can then tank you case - not to mention giving them action against you.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:07 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can I tape?
posted by lalochezia at 6:12 AM on April 1, 2013

You really need to NOT record one of those calls, as, dependend on the jurisdiction, that can be illegal if the person you're speaking with doesn't know they're being recorded, which can then tank you case - not to mention giving them action against you.

New York is a one-party consent state. You can record the conversation.
posted by Sarcasm at 10:58 AM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

All of Canada is a one party consent nation for recording phone calls.

I'm going to copy and paste from a document specifically concerning it:

Specifically, The Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 [Criminal Code] section 184(1) specifies that “Every one who, by means of any electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, willfully intercepts a private communication is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.”

Section 183 of the Criminal Code provides the following definition for private communication:

"private communication" means any oral communication, or any telecommunication, that is made by an originator who is in Canada or is intended by the originator to be received by a person who is in Canada and that is made under circumstances in which it is reasonable for the originator to expect that it will not be intercepted by any person other than the person intended by the originator to receive it, and includes any radio-based telephone communication that is treated electronically or otherwise for the purpose of preventing intelligible reception by any person other than the person intended by the originator to receive it.
(emphasis added).

Section 182(2) of the Criminal Code sets out a number of exceptions to the general rule that it is unlawful to intercept private communications. The most important exception for the purposes of this article is the exception that applies when one of the parties to the communication consents to interception i.e. s. 184(2)(a):

184(2) Subsection (1) [i.e. the section prohibiting interception of private communications] does not apply to:
(a) a person who has the consent to intercept, express or implied, of the originator of the private communication or of the person intended by the originator thereof to receive it;
(b) [an interception done under the authorization of a warrant];
(c) [an interception by a telecommunications company providing services to the public who intercepts for the purpose of monitoring the quality of service];
(d) [an interception by a government agent monitoring the airwaves for illegal use of particular radio frequencies]; or
(e) [an interception by persons managing the quality of certain computer services to ensure that those computer services are not used illegally].

Numerous Canadian cases have held that interception of private communications by parties to the conversation are not illegal.

In R. v. Goldman, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 976 [Goldman] the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that an interception of a private communication is lawful if one of the parties consented to it and explained that “the consent may be express or implied and may be given by either the originator of the private communication or the intended recipient”: Goldman at 997.

In R. v. Fegan (1993), 62 O.A.C. 146 (C.A.) a telephone company (Bell Canada) used a device to record signals that would provide information on the telephone usage habits of one of its customers. The Ontario Court of Appeal held that the signals recorded were not “private communications”, but said that even if they were the telephone company was not a state agent and was entitled to record the communications made to it:

As to s. 184(2)(a) ...Bell Canada is the intended recipient [of the communication], and if it decides to record the signal, it is free to do so.
(R. v. Fegan (1993), 62 O.A.C. 146 at para. 39 (CA))

In R. v. Strano (2001), 80 C.R.R. (2d) 93 (Ont. H.C.J.) a contractor surreptitiously recorded a conversation he had with the accused using a device disguised as a pen. The recording was originally made for the contractors own purposes, but later provided to the police who used it in a criminal prosecution for the offences of accepting secret commissions and breach of trust. Lane J. considered the relevant Criminal Code provisions and the Charter, but held that neither applied to the recordings.

In La Compagnie D’Assurance Standard Life v. Renald Rouleau, [1995] R.J.Q. 1407 at para. 19 (S.C.) the Quebec Superior Court held that an employer surreptitiously recording telephone conversations with an ex-employee was not a violation of s. 184 of the Criminal Code.

If many people are involved in a single conversation, it can lawfully be recorded so long as any one of the parties to the conversation consents to it being recorded. That rule is set out in s. 183.1 of the Criminal Code:

Where a private communication is originated by more than one person or is intended by the originator thereof to be received by more than one person, a consent to the interception thereof by any one of those persons is sufficient consent for the purposes of any provision of this Part.

This point of law has been quite exhaustively tested in the Canadian legal system, up to and including the R. v. Goldman, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 976 [Goldman] case which was decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Apart from the Criminal Code, various statutes in Canada provide privacy protection. For example, the British Columbia Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 373 [Privacy Act] codifies the tort of violation of privacy. However, there is nothing in that statute which indicates that it is a violation of another person’s privacy to record a conversation with them. Further, s. 1(2) of the Privacy Act states that:

The nature and degree of privacy to which a person is entitled … is that which is reasonable in the circumstances, giving due regard to the lawful interests of others.
(Emphasis added).

Thus, the Privacy Act would not likely prevent a party to a private communication from recording it as permitted by s. 184(2)(a) of the Criminal Code.
posted by thewalrus at 12:15 PM on April 1, 2013

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