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Great story in the Wall Street Journal about an e-commerce mystery.

Here's how the Journal sets it up:

"John Smith started shopping early on a recent Wednesday and didn’t stop for days.

"He visited an auto-supply site where he loaded his cart with a replacement turn-signal lever, emergency strobe light and two dozen other items. He hopped over to a home-goods merchant for another 10 items including wood picture frames, address plaques, a towel rack and mailbox. He ordered one of every kind of baby bundle, ranging from about $80 to nearly $500, from a site that sells infant sleeping boxes popular in places such as Finland.

"When the roughly 48-hour spree was over, John Smith did what he always does.

"He walked away without buying anything.

"For more than a year, online merchants selling items ranging from kayaks to keychains have puzzled over the mystery shopper with the generic name behind thousands of abandoned carts. Each cart has only one item.

"It is more than a nuisance. John Smith’s activity skews analytics that online merchants use to advertise and make other critical business decisions. The shopper also uses a bunch of bogus email addresses, and sellers get warned by their internet service providers for sending follow-up pitches to phantom customers."

You can read the fascinating story here.