We're all familiar with the Nigerian scam (“I am a deposed Nigerian prince and need your help getting my fortune out of Nigeria”) and probably won't be falling for that one (again) anytime soon. But what about the new edition of the old scam – let's avoid that one too.
It all starts when you place an online ad.
It doesn't really matter what you're selling, as long as it's large and valuable. It doesn't matter where you advertise — I've received this email scam when advertising furniture on Craigslist, but I hear it can come from almost any online advertisement.
The first email you receive will be: "I will like to know if this item is still available for sale?"
When you say it is, and invite the emailer to come and view your item, you get this answer:
"Thanks for the response, how long have you owned this item? let me know the price in USD? I am OK with the item it looks like new in the photos I am from Liverpool UK, i am sorry i will not be able to come for the viewing, i will arrange for the pickup after payment has been made, all documentation will be done by the shipper, so you don't have to worry about that. Thanks"
Of course, the price was listed in the ad but, wanting to actually SELL the item, you respond with the price and the condition.
"My shipper will be coming from UK for the pickup, and pls prepare all the export documentations for the pickup. I'm quite satisfied with the condition and price. I will be
paying the PayPal charges from my account and i will be paying directly into your PayPal account without any delay, and i hope you have a PayPal account."
If you let it go this far, and actually give the “buyer” a Paypal account, you'll receive this:
"I have just completed the Payment and i am sure you have received the confirmation from PayPal regarding the Payment. You can check your paypal e-mail for confirmation of payment.a total of 25,982usd was sent, 24,728usd for the item and the extra 1,200usd for my shipper's charges,which you will be sending to the address below via western union."
So here it is. You are being asked to send $1200 via Western Union to the “shipper”. Of course, no payment was ever sent by the “buyer”, so any money you send is out of your own pocket. Expressing concern about the missing payment brings this email:
"You should send the money soon so that the Pick Up would be scheduled and you would know when the Pick Up would commence, make sure you're home. I advice you to check both your inbox or junk/spam folder for the payment confirmation message."
And then you are told, oops – the payment can't show up in your PayPal account UNTIL you send the $1200 via Western Union. The following email sounds so professional and
"The Transaction will appear as soon as the western union information is received from you,we have to follow this procedure due to some security reason … the Money was sent through the Service Option Secure Payment so that the transaction can be protected with adequate security measures for you to be able to receive your money. The Shipping Company only accept
payment through Western Union You have nothing to doubt about, You are safe and secured doing this transaction and your account will be credited immediately the western union receipt of *1,200USD* is received from you."
Seriously, this is a business email?
But wait...your NEXT email is from the FBI!! It threatens to take action against you for reneging on your payment:
"We use proprietary technology and constantly innovate to help ensure your transactions are safe. In addition, PayPal has over 20,000 staffs worldwide dedicated to keeping PayPal accounts safe, and stopping online criminals. And we work with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) worldwide to shut off fraudulent websites as soon as possible."
That email might make you think you are a criminal, and they are coming after you. You are not – and they are not! Anyone can fake an FBI logo (just copy it from their website). But it sure looks good when someone's trying to rob you, doesn't it?
I've told you the whole story of the scam, so you can just delete and ignore it if you ever receive it.
Please pass the warning on to friends who might fall for it!