Nine real estate investors in southern Mississippi are facing jail time and hefty fines after violating federal antitrust laws, reports WLOX. On February 21, 2019, Christopher Vaughan and Jon Gregg Goodhart Jr. were ordered four months jail time for their part in a bid-rigging scheme.
WLOX reports that Vaughan and Goodhart Jr. conspired not to bid against each other on properties at real estate foreclosure auctions between 2009 and 2017. They predetermined a bid winner and exchanged payouts to their counterparts who did not compete against them in the bidding process.
Their illegal agreement prevented competition and drove property prices down. Vaughan was ordered to pay $20,000 in fines plus restitution. Ivan Spinner, Jason Boykin, Shannon Boykin, Kimberly Foster, Kevin Moore, Chad Nichols and Terry Tolar were also sentenced in a separate part of the same investigation.
They were sentenced to four months of jail plus fines between $20,000 to $48,000 and restitution to victims of their crimes. Bid rigging is market manipulation has been illegal since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Experts say bid rigging hurts free market competition as well as taxpayers and consumers.
Bid rigging comes in many forms, according to Investopedia:
- Rotating the bid winner
- Intentionally selecting bidders to sit out of the auction process to let someone else win
- Placing uncompetitive bids to let another bidder win
- “Phantom bidders” that place fake bids to spur real bidders to go higher than normal
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