How online ad scammers work.
Having dealt quite extensively with many different (?) scammers trying to persuade me to send them goods I had for sale, I decided to make a little summary for the suspicious online seller.
After you, the seller, post an advertisement online on various websites, eg gumtree.com, craigslit.com friday-ad.co.uk and others you will receive a response to your ad such as:
"is this item still available,what's ur price."
Now I am not sure why but 9 times out of 10 scammers always ask what is the price of the item for sale or what is my best price of the item for sale. This means either they send so many emails that they do not keep track of the items they try to buy, or they just want to bargain with you before robbing you.
After you respond to them telling them that the item is available (why the hell shouldn't be since it is on the ad!!!???) they come back to you saying something in the lines of
"I am away on business and cannot pick it up so please send it as a birthday present to my poor boy/boss/brother/husband. I would like to ad 100$ shipping charge to send it there. I can pay with paypal which is secure and reliable."
The excuses they come up with can be quite interesting. I had people telling me they are missionaries, oceanists en route, business travelers, and god knows what else.
Then after you agree to send it wherever then want you to send it (usually they don't tell you right away) they send you a paypal email telling you that the funds are available for you to take after (here is the catch) you provide the tracking reference number. In this email they include the details of the person picking up the item in Nigeria 99.99999999% of the time.
This email can come from hotmail, or other services and is usually disguised, so it is not evident that it does not come from Paypal, but somewhere else.
this email may have a header like:
******Notification Of An Instant Payment Received From (email@example.com)****
Payment Has Been Approved ***Payment ID Number C826-L003-Q999-T5365
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com)
******Notification Of An Instant Payment Received From (firstname.lastname@example.org)**** From: email@example.com on behalf of firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com)
I am not quite sure how they manage to send an email which at the sender's details says "on behalf of service" etc but it doesn't matter really cause the email is a scam since it does not come directly from paypal.com or paypal.co.uk . (UPDATE: Ccomley kindly provided some insight on the matter in the comment here)
An inexperienced paypal user may easily fall into this pit.
These emails are structured in such a way to resemble paypal emails and escrow services. Paypal however does not function as an escrow service. At least up to amounts of about 400£ that I have used in the past. Once the buyer pays for the item, the money are directly in your account. No wait no fuss, unless the buyer uses a check or bank account. And in this case there is a wait of a few days for the funds to clear.
The real paypal emails always use the paypal member real name that has used with the paypal account. The fake paypal emails on the other hand, use phrases like:
Dear paypal customer
Dear Name Surname of the email address you used to contact the scammer or perhaps from the ad posted online.
In other words, they don't know your real details unless you reveal them.(*****)
AVOID SENDING THEM A MONEY REQUEST, or use a dummy paypal account to do so, just for the fun of it. If they are serious and legitimate (but also if they are scammers they should have no problem sending you the money rather than request you to ask them).
then if you are naive enough to post the item and provide them with the tracking number, they will send you an email like the one bellow:
We have received your message regarding the shipment reference/tracking number,We shall credit your account in the next 48hours,But we want you to send us the (1).The attachment of the scanned receipt given to you at the post office,(2) The name and the address that you post the Item to,(3)Address of the post office that you used to post the item and the date and time that you post the item,As soon as this is done your account will be credited within 48hours so kindly get back to us, to know that you have ship the item to the buyer. We are doing this to protect you and the buyer from been fraud and send the information via this email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note: PayPal will be responsible for the item loss or damage once we receive the information. Thank you for using PayPal!
The PayPal Team
After you send them the receipt of the proof of postage I don't know what happens, cause I never made it that far. But an educated guess is that you will not hear back from them ever again. Assuming they don't acquire your residence details and name or they don't care.The variety of people and the multitude of email addresses used, make me believe that they are a highly organized gang dealing with this type of fraud.
I can imagine a vast hangar full of computers connected to the internet and lots of black people online in 3 shifts 24/7 searching for ads and sending emails.
The bottom line is this:
"DO NOT SEND ANYTHING TO NIGERIA NO MATTER HOW CONVINCING THEY MIGHT BE"
and god bless as they usually say.
(*****) It may happen that a scammer will contact you knowing beforehand your details. Name, Address, Tel. number. How? From online CV-resume websites. While you look for work scammers are looking for you. Best thing to do is to ignore them and post their details on some online scambusting forum, so that others know about them.
It seems that very few things have changed since I first posted this rough how to guide. Scammers ask for items to be send in Nigeria, sending fake paypal emails as confirmation of money deposited. Two major changes that I found out about recently, is that now they add a part for people who may not have paypal account, and a part informing you that the payment will not show up in your paypal account. That is of course utter bullshit.
The parts are as follows:
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PAYMENT WILL NOT APPEAR IN THE "PENDING" TAB IN YOUR ACCOUNT UNTIL YOU SEND THE SHIPPING REFERENCE NUMBER TO US.
FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE PAYPAL ACCOUNT YOUR PAYMENT WILL BE DELIVERED TO YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS AS SOON AS WE HAVE RECEIVED A TRACKING NUMBER FOR SHIPMENT VERIFICATION.
I am totally in favor of sending them a real turd, if you can spare the money for the post, and making them to pay heavy customs to receive it, by declaring a customs value far higher than expected, just for the fun of it. Perhaps that is the only way to fight them
updateanother bullshitting part of fake emails.
Please do not go against our policy , as PayPal team will view it as an attempt to cheat the buyer and your account will be BLOCKED in accordance with PayPal Monetary Policy on Fraudulent Act.
AVOID SENDING PAYPAL REQUESTS TO POTENTIAL SCAMMERS. THEY CAN SEND YOU MONEY THE SAME WAY YOU CAN ASK THEM, SO THERE IS NO NEED TO ASK THEM
When the scammer uses the gmail, the seller cannot trace the origin of the email which 99% the email ip is from Nigeria. When the seller uses gmail it is a bit difficult to distinguish the fake paypal formatting from the original messages, but since they always tell you that you will receive the money after you post the item, this is 100% scam. So people beware!