- eBay Seller: (the Mark)
- “Buyer”: Ashley Bell
- “Collection Agent”: Route 66
- “PayPal Help Desk”:
- Seller posts an item on eBay with their email address in the description.
- The fake buyer contacts the seller via email
- Expresses an interest in the product
- Makes an offer 20% above the reserve price.
- Seller agrees and buyer asks seller to end the listing.
- Buyer advises she will make the payment via PayPal.
- The buyer emphasizes that she has limited access to the internet, hence she may be unavailable for periods of time.
- The buyer contacts the seller advising that she is using an agent to collect the item for shipping. There will be a £50 charge which will need to be payed in advance. The seller needs to be wire the £50 to the agents head office in Nigeria, The wire transfer will cost less the £10 so the buyer has sent an extra £60 via PayPal so £180. The agent will be in touch with regards collection and fees.
- The seller contacts the buyer querying the payment which has not arrived and the collection arrangements which are too involved.
- The buyer advises that she has already made the transfer and the seller should have a notification from paypal. Can the seller please check her junk mail.
- The seller finds emails in her junk mail from “paypal” and the pick-up agent. The emails from “PayPal”:
- Advise the seller that she has received funds from the buyer, £180.
- Funds are pending payment to the pick-up agent
- Seller must pay the courier £50 via Western Union
- Also in Junk mail is an email from the courier
- Introducing himself
- Wanting a collection location and time
- Imploring the seller to transfer the £50 via WU
- By this point the seller susses the rouse and stops all communication and marks the emails as spam to stop further emails from the “buyer” reaching the inbox.
If this had been carried out to fruition what could you do?
- eBay and PayPal are out of the loop: In this case there is no recourse from either since the transaction was not done via their systems.
- Law enforcement: You should report this, however don’t expect the perpetrators to be caught.
- Western Union:They can only stop a transfer if it hasn’t been collected.
I’m a security person and from my view point there are some positives in this story. The spoofed PayPal emails are laced with multiple warning signs that even casual observation can pick out. Here are the some
- From field: shows the senders display name and the most importantly <the actual email address>. Service@Paypal.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- English is still not the con artists forte however this will change.
- Junk mail: The emails were automatically sent to junk
- The emails contain warning banners that they could be malicious and that others have marked these as spam.
Why was the seller targeted?
An email in the description of the listing gave the “buyer” the hook she required.
Take a common sense approach
- Don’t release goods till funds are received. Check your PayPal account! Don’t rely on emails)
- Don’t end an auction at the behest of a “buyer”, insist they place a bid.
- When sending an item always get proof of delivery\collection, (take a picture of the courier and van).
- Western Union + collection = scam.
These scams not only have the potential to rob you of your item and money but they can be quite distressing for the victim. Just the email correspondence can take its toll.
If you are interested below is the actual email exchange with the “buyer” see the following… I’ve sanitised them to protect the seller.
From: ashley bell <email@example.com> Date: Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 11:11 AM To: GS <……..@gmail.com> I am interested and okay with the price, my only option right now will be PayPal due to the nature of my work,phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it, I prefer to use PayPal for most online transactions,once i send the money toyou, PayPal will notify you through email that the money has been sent to your account, you can have the money immediately through your Bank or Credit Card and get backto me with your PayPal email address and the final asking price so i can send the money to you. Kindly get back to me with the following questions below: 1) Are you the Owner? 2) Pick up Location? 3) Your PayPal Email ID to effect the payment 4)kindly send me your paypal register email for the funds to be transfer and my agent will come after the payment has been sorted ok so set up if you don't have now www.paypal.com just take you 3minute.
Response from the seller.
From: @gmail.com> Date: Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 12:18 PM To: ashley bell <firstname.lastname@example.org> Hi the start price is £100 and auction is ends Friday morning. I was looking around £120 for buy now. I have a PayPal acct n yes it's my own. I'm based in London for pick up Once it's done I'll end the bid before anyone actually bids x let me know ASAP also your address will be able to post today x Sent from my iPhone
The twist: Someone actually buys the item, the seller notifies the “buyer”. However the buyer insists she has already paid via PayPal.
---------- From: ashley bell <email@example.com> Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 8:38 AM To: @gmail.com> I was just about to pay when i had this problem with the pick up, my pick up agent says i will need to pay for the pick up before they can schedule a pick up time, they charged me 50pounds for pick up and delivery,and payments for pick up made through them is made to their corporate international headquarters which is in West Africa and the payments is made through western union money transfer,i will add the 60pounds to your money i will send through paypal as soon as i have made the payments, i will email you and let you know and please i will need you to help me send the money to my pick up agent Hq in West Africa through western union money transfer, this can be done from any post office ,there is always western union money transfer section in most post offices((you can do it online as well at (www.westernunion.com)..., i would have done it myself but we cant/ bring some of our personal effects along, i am a little incapacitated.....I will appreciate your help here. ---------- From: ashley bell <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 9:51 AM To: GS<……..@gmail.com> I have just made the payments now and i expect PayPal to have emailed you by now, i sent £180.00 GBP in all to your PayPal (GS<……..@gmail.com>) I added £60.00 GBP meant for pick up fee commission and delivery and £10.00 GBP for the western union charges fee , they said they have emailed you to this effect, you will need to send the £50.00 GBP to the pick up agent via western union money transfer,so that PayPal can credit £180.00 GBP into your account as soon as you have emailed the western union details (Actual Amount Sent,10-Digits MTCN#,Sender name and Sender Address) to PayPal Customer Care, i added extra £10.00 GBP to cover the western union charges which shouldn't be more that £6.00 GBP, Here is the pick up agent information needed to get the money sent through western union money transfer: kindly check your mail inbox, spam and junk folders very well for the message from PayPal and the pick up agent. hope you get the agent name and address of where to send the pick up fee to below PICK-UP AGENT INFORMATION BELOW: Name: Osebor John Address: no4 osuntokun ave City: Ibadan State: Oyo, Zip code: 23402 Country: Nigeria.... I will need the details of the transfer once you have sent fund . . . 1.The MTCN number that is the 10 digits number on the Western Union receipt 2.Sender name and sender address used in sending the money 3.Pick Up Location with security question and answer. 4.Western Union Receipt
From: @gmail.com> Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 12:28 PM To: ashley bell <email@example.com> It's sold and there's no money that you sent in my acct Sent from my iPhone ---------- From: ashley bell <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 2:31 PM To: @gmail.com> Kindly check your inbox,Junk/Spam Mail properly for the PayPal Payment confirmation you will not receive the payment now cos its Pending by PayPal so as to verify that you are a Legitimate seller of the purchased item...so they are temporarily holding the money until the MTCN details has been sent to them as regards the payment... this is to secure us both......PayPal is Holding the money and waiting on you tosend the MTCN information to them so that they can verify it and confirm that you have truly sent the money before the accreditation can take place...so i implore you send the money through western union and get back to them so that they can credit your account ASAP.....so kindly get that done now and get back to me asap ---------- From: @gmail.com> Date: Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 4:55 PM To: ashley bell <email@example.com> Speak to PayPal I've heard of this scam before Sent from my iPhone