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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Trading card marketplace PWCC has been suspended by eBay for "shill bidding" — the practice of artificially boosting the price of an item through dishonest bids.

Why it matters: One of the industry's biggest players getting rocked by scandal could have deleterious effects on the card-collecting hobby, which is built largely on trust.

The backdrop: Trading cards are in the midst of a meteoric rise. The 10 most expensive cards in history have all been sold since last August.

Details: eBay "restricted PWCC's selling privileges" this week, removing more than 71,000 listings from its website.

  • Shill bidding, explained: The seller enlists friends and family, or uses aliases, to drive the item price higher than it would have gone if a legitimate buyer bid and purchased it.
  • PWCC denies any wrongdoing, and is weighing all available legal options to fight the accusation. The company did over $200 million in sales on eBay last year alone, per the Action Network.

The big picture: This isn't the first time PWCC has found itself in hot water. It's also the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation stemming from a 2019 "trimming" scandal, which involves doctoring cards to increase their grade, thus inflating their sale price.

  • That relationship between grading and selling is illustrative of card collecting's biggest risk: it relies on various cogs — producers like Topps, marketplaces like PWCC, grading agencies like PSA — working together in harmony.
  • If eBay's allegations are true, PWCC could be shunned by the industry. Multiple competitors have already pounced on the chance to wrestle customers away from them.

Go deeper

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

This arthritis drug cost $198 in 2008. Now it's more than $10,000

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2008, a box of 30 anti-inflammatory rectal suppositories that treats arthritis, called Indocin, had a price tag of $198. As of Oct. 1, the price of that same box was 52 times higher, totaling $10,350.

Why it matters: As federal lawmakers continue to waver on drug price reforms, Indocin is another example of how nothing prevents drug companies from hiking prices at will and selling them within a broken supply chain.

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.