SHAFAQNA – The Grand Ayatollah Safi answered a question about internet auctions.
Question: Recently, sites have been operating in cyber space as internet auctions. Individuals become members in these sites and by paying a certain amount maintain the credit in their accounts. A person by sending an empty message take part in the auction and by doing so moves forward in the queue and in certain time automatically bids for the lot for a higher price. Then, the person is moved to the end of the queue until after movement in the queue, again has the opportunity to bid for the lot with higher price. This process is continued as long as the user is in credit and the final price for the lot is not achieved. What is the religious ruling about this type of auction? Of course other methods are used for this type of auction which in all them, the price of the lot is increased gradually by deducting certain amounts from the user accounts.
The Grand Ayatollah Safi: Generally, internet dealings have the same rules as other dealings; then if the case is Halal and the conditions of the dealing are known and are observed, and if the dealing is a special case like exchange of money, with the conditions for this type such as rules about cash, credit and buy in advance are observed, then it is correct. But the mentioned auctions which for every separate suggestion, separate amount must be paid, and the bidder is not able to say the final price for once, and in this way a lot of money is collected from customers, in my opinion has no authentic religious justification.
Source: PERSIAN SHAFAQNA