Volume 49, Issue 1 (January 2004)
Human Remains Sold to the Highest Bidder! A Snapshot of the Buying and Selling of Human Skeletal Remains on eBay®, an Internet Auction Site
Internet auction sites have become increasingly popular, with diverse items up for sale to the public worldwide. The purposes of this paper are to inform the forensic community that human skeletal remains, old and new, are for sale on the eBay® internet auction site, and to advise forensic scientists that eBay® does not use a forensic anthropologist to assess photographs of these materials. Over the last few years, this website was “surfed,” with numerous auctions during this period. After contacting eBay® by email, representatives responded that they adhere to Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and that their website indicates that auctions must state that sale of human remains is for instructional purposes only. Based on the photographs, the remains appear to be of prehistoric and modern origin. An unfortunate consequence of such sale may generate interest in stealing remains from graves, mortuaries, hospitals, or county morgues worldwide.