Justice Department targets EBay for alleged unlawful sales of pesticides and other toxins

FILE - An eBay app is shown on a mobile phone, July 11, 2019, in Miami. On Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, the U.S. Justice Department filed a civil complaint against eBay, claiming the online company unlawfully sold and distributed hundreds of thousands of products that violated various environmental laws. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Justice Department targets EBay for alleged unlawful sales of pesticides and other toxins

Oct. 2, 2023

The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil complaint against EBay, claiming the online marketplace unlawfully sold and distributed hundreds of thousands of products

such as

pesticides and motor vehicle emission-evading devices that violate environmental laws.

The complaint

Wednesday filed Sept. 27



Bay sold, offered for sale or caused the sale of more than 343,000 aftermarket devices that try to evade motor vehicle emissions controls.

It also alleges the company unlawfully distributed or sold at least 23,000 pesticides that were unregistered, misbranded or for restricted use. The Justice Department said that the pesticides include a high toxicity insecticide banned in the U




, a restricted use pesticide that only certified applicators may apply and a product falsely claiming to protect users against the virus that causes COVID-19.

In addition, the complaint claims


Bay distributed more than 5,600 painting and coating removal products that include methylene chloride.




of emission control defeat devices, pesticides, and other unsafe products poses unacceptable risks to our communities disproportionately impacted by environmental and health hazards, U.S. Att




Breon Peace said Wednesday. Together with our partners, this office will vigorously enforce federal law against those whose conduct endangers public health and the environment.

EBay has a stark choice: Show growth or break into pieces E

Bay called the government’s actions entirely unprecedented, and said that it planned to vigorously defend itself.

Maintaining a safe and trusted marketplace for our global community of sellers and buyers is a fundamental principle of our business

at eBay


the company EBay

said in a prepared statement. We dedicate significant resources, implement state-of-the-art technology and ensure our teams are properly trained to prevent prohibited items from being listed on the marketplace.


Bay said that it’s blocking and removing more than 99.9% of the listings for the products cited by the Justice Department, including millions of listings each year.

The Justice Department, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, filed the complaint against




in federal court in Brooklyn.

The EPA has previously issued orders against


Bay. In 2021


the agency ordered the company to stop selling 170 unregistered and misbranded pesticide products.

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The U.S. has targeted sales of toxic materials before. In 2018


the EPA announced a $1.2

million settlement with Amazon over the sale and distribution of illegal pesticides.

Federal regulators said at the time that the agreement settled allegations that the Seattle e-commerce giant committed nearly 4,000 violations between 2013 and 2016 for selling and distributing imported pesticide products not licensed for sale in the United States.

The EPA issued a stop-sale order in 2021 requiring Amazon to take down listings for dozen of products the agency said posed a health risk to people and pets exposed to the products,


he Seattle Times reported.

The EPA also ordered Amazon and


Bay to stop selling a variety of pesticide products in June 2020 that included some that falsely claimed to provide protection against the coronavirus.