Washington DC – Investigators with the Government Accountability Office say sensitive and classified military equipment is freely available on popular online auction sites like eBay and Craigslist. In a yearlong investigation from January 2007 to March 2008, investigators purchase a dozen prohibited military items from the auction sites. In some cases, the equipment was stolen and the sellers were arrested.
The purchased items ranged from an antenna for an F-14 fighter jet to special night vision goggles capable of seeing friendly troops. A seller in Loveland Colorado sold the F-14 antenna to GAO agents and claims he couldn’t remember the person’s name or address where he bought it from. (Yeah right)
But who would even buy an F-14 component? Well Iran still has some F-14s flying around and is struggling to find replacement parts. The United States Navy retired its F-14s several years ago and replaced them with F-18 Hornet jets.
The GAO concludes that many of the items were stolen from the US military like meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) packages and military-grade infrared goggles that could see the friendly infrared tabs warn by our soldiers. Agents were also able to buy infrared tabs and an Army combat uniform with the tabs attached. The seller of the uniform told the GAO that he purchased it at a swap meet.
The investigation did lead to at least one arrest. An Army Private First Class stationed in South Korea was selling stolen MREs online and is now spending three years in prison. One of the F-14 component sellers is also the subject of a U.S. Customs investigation.
I wonder how long it will take until someone tries to sell the recently retired F-117 Stealth Fighter on eBay?
You can read the entire GAO report here.