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DA agrees to investigate ads selling dirt from construction site of new Buffalo Bills stadium

Online ads offering dirt from the site for sale started appearing after the groundbreaking ceremony.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — People have bought and sold all sorts of unique items online: everything from raindrops captured at rock concerts, to snow from Buffalo blizzards.

But now the Erie County District Attorney has been asked to look into possible illegalities surrounding attempts to sell dirt from the construction site of the new Buffalo Bills stadium in Orchard Park.

Posts on eBay caught the eye of a viewer who asked us to look into it.

On June 5 dignitaries held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the New Highmark Stadium.

Within days ads started popping up online on sites like eBay offering dirt from the construction site for sale.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn confirms his office has been asked by the county to investigate whether there are any potential crimes afoot.

"I kind of chuckled to be honest with you at first, but I'll look into it," Flynn told WGRZ-TV. "There could be a number of potential things here."

According to Flynn, this could be potential fraud if the dirt being offered for sale was in fact not gathered from the site.

"I'm all for making a buck," Flynn said. "But we don't know if the sellers scooped it up from their own backyards. .... And if they did, they would selling something online under false pretenses."

Even if the dirt is authentic, Flynn says there is a potential for trespassing if whoever gathered it wasn't authorized to be on the site.

And even if they were authorized to be on the site, such as in the case of a construction worker or an attendee to the groundbreaking, there could be questions surrounding whether they were granted permission to take the dirt and, if not, whether that would constitute theft.

"I'll have to look up and see if dirt is property, and did they inappropriately take property here. ... These are some of the things we'll have to look at," Flynn said.

One ad indicates that as of Thursday afternoon there were two active bidders for a jar of "groundbreaking dirt" who had driven the bid price up to $15,000. Curiously, another ad with the same picture (but with a different seller listed) was offering the item for $25 with no takers. 

As is so often the case with any purchase, online or otherwise, the watch words "buyer beware' might be appropriate ones to remember.

"You should always research a seller to see what you can find about them and what others have experienced," said Kat Schmieder of the Better Business Bureau. "Otherwise, we would recommend always buying with a credit card because depending on your credit card company they could have policies in place that could get you your money back if you run into a scam."

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