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Shill bidding: Empirical evidence of its effectiveness and likelihood of detection in online auction systems


  • Nikitkov, Alexey
  • Bay, Darlene


Auction participants, academic researchers and the popular press continue to express concerns about shill bidding in online auctions. However, the market makers (auction websites) do not behave as if they view shill bidding as a significant risk. Further, important questions about shill bidding remain unanswered: how easily sellers are able to shill bid, how readily such actions can be detected by the market maker or bidding community, whether shill bidding results in significant economic gains, and which shill strategies are most effective. We report the results of nine weeks of online auction trading. We find that a price premium of between 16% and 44% can be achieved by shill bidding. Importantly, shill bidding is quite easy to implement and neither the market maker nor bidders showed any indication that they noticed. We conclude that market makers should make a careful re-evaluation of the risks of shill bidding, since only they are in a position to take meaningful action to prevent it from occurring.

Suggested Citation

  • Nikitkov, Alexey & Bay, Darlene, 2015. "Shill bidding: Empirical evidence of its effectiveness and likelihood of detection in online auction systems," International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 42-54.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ijoais:v:16:y:2015:i:c:p:42-54
    DOI: 10.1016/j.accinf.2015.02.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kosmopoulou, Georgia & De Silva, Dakshina G., 2007. "The effect of shill bidding upon prices: Experimental evidence," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 291-313, April.
    2. Lamy, Laurent, 2009. "The Shill Bidding Effect versus the Linkage Principle," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 390-413, January.
    3. Indranil Chakraborty & Georgia Kosmopoulou, 2004. "Auctions with shill bidding," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 24(2), pages 271-287, August.
    4. Engelberg, Joseph & Williams, Jared, 2009. "eBay's proxy bidding: A license to shill," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 509-526, October.
    5. André P. Liebenberg & Robert E. Hoyt, 2003. "The Determinants of Enterprise Risk Management: Evidence From the Appointment of Chief Risk Officers," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 6(1), pages 37-52, February.
    6. Anne E. Kleffner & Ryan B. Lee & Bill McGannon, 2003. "The Effect of Corporate Governance on the Use of Enterprise Risk Management: Evidence From Canada," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 6(1), pages 53-73, February.
    7. Beasley, Mark S. & Clune, Richard & Hermanson, Dana R., 2005. "Enterprise risk management: An empirical analysis of factors associated with the extent of implementation," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 521-531.
    8. Graham, Daniel A. & Marshall, Robert C. & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1990. "Phantom bidding against heterogeneous bidders," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 13-17, January.
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