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Slick Profits And Ugly Extortion At U Of Maryland

An e-commerce triumph by young college entrepreneurs has been tarnished by larceny and extortion at the University of Maryland.
An e-commerce triumph by young college entrepreneurs has been tarnished by larceny and extortion at the University of Maryland.

You know that jar of cooking grease where you dump bacon fat and other artery-clogging kitchen glop? The jar that sits by the stove, its contents slowly congealing into a rancid, good-for-nothing block of glop?

Last month a University of Maryland sophomore and his well-fed housemates sold one just like it on eBay for $305. The bidder, clearly someone with a soft spot for small biz, told the sellers to remarket the goop. They set up a Web site, are planning a calendar, and have seen the value of the jar rise to $700.

According to their school newspaper, the housemates "have even begun sending Facebook messages advertising a contest aimed at art history majors who they want to come up with the most creative critique of the grease jar as a piece of modern art."

That's a pretty slop jar. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

Now this tale of entrepreneurial triumph has been stained by crime: On April 21, the boys' moneymaker was nabbed. A ransom note has instructed the enterprising Terrapins to drop off "$1,000 large" at a park or "the grease gets it."

At least the perp had more imagination than to write, "all your grease are belong to S.S. Snoogins."

-Cora Nucci, Editor, Small Biz Resource You can write to her here.

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