Michael's Dispatches

Attempted Fraud Using Ebay and PayPal names


img001-1000Scam Packing slip

05 April 2012

Monday I listed some camera gear for sale on Ebay.  Starting bid was $7,000, but for $7,700 a buyer could take everything immediately.  Soon after came a closing sale from the United Kingdom.

The "sale" "went through" immediately for $7,700, and the buyer took it upon himself or herself to tack on another $170 for immediate shipment to Lagos, Nigeria.

The supposed buyer messaged:


But checking with Ebay, no funds arrived.  We alerted Ebay.

Subsequent the sham packing slip above, came the fraudulent email below:


A glance at the email address reveals that the message had not come from PayPal. There were no pending payments in my account.  We alerted PayPal.


Maybe this was an honest fraud attempt from Nigeria, or it was a dishonest fraud attempt where someone tried to trick us into shipping camera gear to Nigeria.  (Milkooks sometimes hit me with frauds.  One even posed as a dead Soldier.)

In any case, it did not work, and the gear is still for sale.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    a&n · 9 years ago
    Who would trust anyone in Nigeria anyway. Glad you didn't get taken, Mike. And hope you get a legitimate buyer. I wonder how many people have fallen for this scam. Thanks for warning the folks, Mike.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dave Hawkins · 9 years ago
    Wow, I don't do business on eBay. I have heard stories like this before. I would have thought that packing ship was real. What made you think to check with eBay?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    scarface · 9 years ago
    Michael: It would appear that our African brothers have produced scam artists from Nigeria and Kenya....watch your back
    Semper Fidelis
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    David S · 9 years ago
    The world should block Nigeria from the Web.
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    Jim Karthaus · 9 years ago
    Nigeria may very well be the most crooked place in the world. Every illegal offer I get on Ebay or Craigslist is from there. It must be very hard to do honest business there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gump · 9 years ago
    Scams: AFF - Nigerian, Lottery scams, Money Transfer Frauds, Lawyers with deceased clients, etc.

    1) Write to the Federal Trade Commission: spam@uce.gov - copy them on the email and explain what has occurred since.

    2) Forward the email to the US Secret Service at 419.fcd@usss.treas.gov
  • This commment is unpublished.
    robin yates · 9 years ago
    anything to do with or from Nigeria treat like you would a rattler or mamba or cobra,
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank · 9 years ago
    I stopped doing business with Ebay after they took over PayPal.Ebay has this wholly then thou atitude on firearms but its ok to continue to let this Nigeria problem continue on. Ebay should stop being greedy and just let the Sellers know we are not accepting any transactions with a Nigerian address. US laws cannot do a thing about it. Be Careful!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sandra · 9 years ago
    This one is tried on artists alllllll the time. If it is from out of the country I always write a nice courteous letter telling them I will be happy to work with them as soon as the required number of weeks for my bank to assure me the funds are there. I also tell them I was born but not yesterday. I never hear from that particular one again, but it happens over and over.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sandra · 9 years ago
    As an artist I have this happen over and over. I always politely reply and tell them I am happy to do business with them but I must wait until the bank check has several weeks for my bank to assure me it has cleared. This is what they usually do. The Ebay thing is a new one. Pretty clever. I also state that although I was born it wasn't yesterday.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    TB · 9 years ago
    But if your going to be a blithering idiot then maybe one should stay off the web, period.

    I deplore statements like those above, saying your not going to shop on eBay because scammers exist is like saying you're not going outside ever, because you might get struck by lightning!

    Due diligence and education is the best way to survive in this treacherous world as Mike has shown many times over and over 8)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carolyn · 9 years ago
    In response to Sandra, I have heard of funds being there and an item shipped. HOWEVER, the funds were from a stollen credit card--so the funds were then recovered and the shipper was out both the merchandise and the money.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      TB · 9 years ago
      [quote name="Carolyn"]In response to Sandra, I have heard of funds being there and an item shipped. HOWEVER, the funds were from a stollen credit card--so the funds were then recovered and the shipper was out both the merchandise and the money.[/quote]

      That is WHY one doing business on the web only accepts payments from VERIFIED buyers on PayPal, YO
  • This commment is unpublished.
    in_awe · 9 years ago
    Back in the 1970's my father was sent to Nigeria by his employer to handle a problem that was preventing the company's cargo from being offloaded from freighters at anchor in the harbor at Lagos.

    The port authority, the customs bureau and lord knows how many other government bureaucracies were thinly veiled extortion gangs. Unless and until adequate bribes (service payments) were made, nothing was getting off those ships. "Don't worry - everybody pays these fees." he was told.

    Good ol' dad was a little leery of such assurances - especially after he was arrested one day after being arrested as a CIA spy (!) for taking a photo of the outside of the soccer stadium. The embassy staff jumped to action and he was released after a harrowing day in a Lagos holding cell. He later learned that the stadium was where political prisoners were taken to be tortured and killed.

    My Dad's employer refused to pay bribes and it was w-a-a-y beyond my father's willingness to "go the extra mile" for his employer. So, after weeks of fruitless "negotiating", my father returned to the US.

    The two ships had been sitting in the tropical humidity for a few months and the dampness wound up ruining the cargo - bulk concrete mix. I'm not sure if the freighters were eventually sunk as a new breakwall or if the shipping companies paid someone to come in with jackhammers, but the company never paid to get that cargo unloaded.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Yon author · 9 years ago
    This one had fraud written all over it. The messages alone were enough. Firstly, they clearly did not come from Ebay or Paypal. Then there was the Nigeria part. Finally, neither Ebay or Paypal showed a sale or funds. There were a few other things but it was obvious from every angle.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Evans · 9 years ago
    To quote a line from Braveheart, "Bunch of schemin' bastards."
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Singadick · 9 years ago
    There are several red flags that would tell one that this is a scam.

    "We confirmed item was mail by recognized courier" (failed his ESL course)

    They try to instill a level of comfort with :
    "You are safe and secure to ship the item."
    (Think PayPal would really say that?)

    The Routing Code is "C840" and eMail address "deborahbenjamin840" -- that's so they can tie any email to the fraudulent order - something one would do if needing to keep track of dozens/hundreds of fraudulent orders.

    And in the "You've got new funds"
    "This Email confirm ..." instead of "confirms"

    They say to send an email to PayPal at enquiry_invoice@consultant.com.
    Does that look like a PayPal domain name? They don't care about the email - as long as you shipp the goods so that you can get a number to email into a black hole address.

    Caveat Emptor !

    BTW - none of this has anything to do with failure of Ebay's or PayPal's procedures.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JBD · 9 years ago
    As posted there is no way to assure that the emails are genuine or not. What you can do is learn to read email headers. Read them from bottom up. The "Received:" headers are the interesting ones. You should be able to trace the emails back to an appropriate sender step by step through the relay process. If a step is missed, it is a forgery.

    Note that PayPal and EBay do not tend to send emails from Russia, Croatia, or even Cox Cable addresses.

    Nor, if you read the bare body of the message, tend to send you off to PayPal pages in Argentina. It is easy to misuse the "href" HTML tag to misguide users about the true link destinations.

    Another simple thing is to simply declare you do not accept sales to countries with bad reputations. TB mentioned another very good technique. A third is to hand type EBay.com and paypal.com to log into your accounts and check veracity of statements received in email. Do NOT EVER click on links in the email.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    ggl · 9 years ago
    It's called spoofing and it's not limited to Africa.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MHB · 9 years ago
    I recently read this article which details many similarities to Michael's experience: http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/new-419-scam-involves-paypal-and-western-union/.
    The scammers are getting more and more sophisticated in their methods; luckily, their grammar and spelling remain poor. Hopefully that won't change.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    karen · 9 years ago
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    C Good · 9 years ago
    Wow, three separate phony e-mails. They must have really wanted that camera.

    There are scammers for everything. I haven't seen too many fake bank e-mails recently, but there's an online game I play and I get lots of phishing e-mails about that. Sometimes the grammar is a giveaway, but sometimes the fakes are pretty good.

    Recently I've seen a bunch of spoof e-mail that claim to be from YouTube, my guess is that it's because Google recently changed their policies to more closely align gmail accounts with YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, etc. accounts, so you have to log in to YouTube with your Gmail account now. So a spoofed Youtube e-mail might trick someone into giving up their Gmail login info.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Skydog308 · 9 years ago
    Michael, where have you been Afghanistan???? I sell on Gunbroker, Guns America and eBay, and use PayPal.....this is constant standard operational hazards of "dealing" in the most open forum that has ever existed on this planet - THE INTERNET - it's kinda like CB Radio or Ham Radio (without the Shortwave side bands that reaches into every house, smartphone and any other eCommerce device in the world. Consider yourself lucky, very lucky. BTW even your kitchen toaster(s) will be reporting their status over the "Net" very soon. I can do much more with my current phone than I could with my state of the art Dolch computer back in the early 90's. I have an Canon F1 body and a couple of lens' if interested....LOL
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank · 9 years ago
    TB we are not all as sharp as you when it comes to internet ventures. Their are so many scams thes days that you need to be in law enforcement or have a Security position at a computer company. Some of us have a life away from the computer. So much for Globalization.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    BravoBilly · 9 years ago
    Michael, I have a friend who is in the Southern part of Nigeria and in the Court system. Should you ever need his help I can forward it to your. There are 2 parts of Nigeria: the Muslim and the Christian. Unfortunately, the northern tends to be the con artist on line. Best Wishes to ya.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michelle · 9 years ago
    Thanks for the warning--I probably would have believed what I was seeing. What an extraordinary amount of effort they put into the ruse! I wonder why people who do this don't put their smarts to use in something legitimate.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Capt.-retired · 9 years ago
      [quote name="Michelle"]Thanks for the warning--I probably would have believed what I was seeing. What an extraordinary amount of effort they put into the ruse! I wonder why people who do this don't put their smarts to use in something legitimate.[/quote]

      Most don't have much of choice. Employment is usually based upon being a member of the tribe in power. Not always, and I met a lot of good people in the ten or so countries I worked in and visited. Most Americans are simply unaware of what the place is really like. I have seen more death and destrouction scattered there and know of much more than any place I've ever been. Tribalism is Africa's curse. Americans simply know nothing about it and uswually consider all "Africans" to be ordinary black people. There is a pecking order in African countries similar to the Indian caste system. A prime example of when things go really wrong is the Rwandan genocide. One may also look to the huge war that was fought after the genocide in the DRC. It is estimated that as many as five million died, with seven countries directly involved, and little was heard about it in the west. Africa is a study in contrasts. It is often horrific on one hand, and incredibly exciting and fascinating on the other. I have a lifelong love/hate relationship with the place that I will carry to my grave.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Hercdriver · 9 years ago
    With no exception, Africa is a steaming shithole with bush wars, hijackings, rape and robbery rampant, some places worse than others. I flew there for years. Exercise *extreme caution* when attempting to do business there and if you're on the continent, add at least ten percent for bribes right off the top, and often much more. Everyone you talk to has a con of some sort going, with the exception of most, but not all of the staff of the camps I was lucky enough to hunt out of. Nairobi is the absolute worst.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Carroll · 9 years ago
    Hmmmmmmm .... Scam artist from Kenya .... That has a familiar ring to it.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Beatriz · 3 years ago
    Hello! I've been following your website for a long time now and
    finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the good job!

    Also visit my webpage Unblocked Games: http://dbestunblockedgames.com

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