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Friday, February 03, 2006

419 scam in eBay : Shipment / payment request to Nigeria

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Are you trading through eBay (earlier Baazee.com)? If so, BEAWARE of Nigerian scammers. I recently tried to dispose of my old moblie through and got a taste of this scam which has become a concern for everyone. I am sharing the experience which will help others.

Modus Operandi of the scam:

If you are selling : Normally you tend to keep a higher price to taste the water. Then you got surprised that someone has bought it the very day it was listed. You are happy that it got sold fast. The scammers had an almost perfect Indian address in some city. But even before you send him a bill through eBay, the buyer will send you a mail saying he is currently out of India and will like the item to be gifted to someone in Nigeria (or Lagos). Further the item is to be sent through DHL for which he will bear the cost. Two samples are reproduced below ----

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MAIL-1:

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Hello,

How are you doing today?i recieved your mail about the item ibought from your store, i am the winner buyer of the item.i am currently out of india,presently in london,so i want to send the item to my friend in nigeria as a surprise gift.what i need from you,i want you to send me the total cost of everything both the shipping cost to nigeria through dhl becuase i we be paying you through money order i also want you to send me your name address so that i can send the money order if you agree with me just send me your name and address so that i can send the money order and this is were i want this item to be delivered

obazee enduranceno

30 lawani street,

new benin benin city,

edo state nigeria 23452

Best regards,dave kunal

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MAIL-2:

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Hello Saller,

How are you doing today?i recieved your mail about the item i bought from your store, i am the winner buyer of the item.i am currently out of india,presently in the Uk for a confference.so i want to send the item to a friend in nigeria as a new year (gift).what i need from you,i want you to send me the total cost of everything so that i can send the money order if you agree with me just send me your name and address so that i can send the money order and this is were i want this item to be delivered:

ESOSA OMORODION

147 USELU LAGOS ROAD,

BENIN CITYEDO STATE,

NIGERIA,23452

Get me the total cost of shipping the item through dhl courier service and the cost of item to enable me send you the money order with out any mistake,also provide me with your details like this: First name:last name:street:city:state:zipcode:country:phone: I await your urgent response.

Best regards,

HASSANY HAMZI .
==================


The first time, I had received the buyer's mail (buyer named Kunal Dave), I replied diligently after finding the rate from Blue Dart site. I told him the shipping charges to Nigeria is 3300 and he may not like to pay 3300 for shipping an item bought for 2000. But he agreed and this made me smell fishy. I searched the net and found that this is rampant in e-bay and is termed as '[419] Lagos / Nigeria: eBay' scam. I continued communication with the scammer out of sheer curiosity. Then I received a payment information supposedly from BidPay. This site BidPAy is a genuine site, so does Western Union. But none have to do anything with the scam. The scammer are using their name to create credibility. The first mail said that they have received a money order request from the buyer and are processing the case and will inform me when the money order is approved. Then came the next mail confiming that the money order had been approved. The mail said that I need to ship the item first and then confirm the tracking no. to them. They will release the money once I give them the tracking no. Meanwhile the scammer also sent me a sepearte mail saying that he had made the payment and I need to do what the bank had asked. The mails had excellent graphics with logos of Western Union. It was good enough to fool any not so net savvy person. But on careful scrutiny I found that it had some flaws. Some links do not work. When I clicked on the BidPay link, the website said that effective 31.12.2005 we have closed down. I also checked with Western Union site and they have no such service named Western Union® Auction Payments. The copies of mail are reproduced below ---
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Begin of reproduced MAIL texts from bogus Western Union account

:================================================================

From : bidpayonline@westernunionpaymentworld.com

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MAIL-1: (informing me of order by scammer)

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Subject : Western Union Auction Payments **ORDER PENDING** (27576497)


Dear Mr.Rupankar Mahanta,
Western Union® Auction Payments has received your email address from Dave Kunal to inform you of the order to have a RS 5,550.00 (126.00 USD) Western Union Money Order sent to you for:

Auction Site: EBAY

Auction item: Nokia 2100

Auction item number:# 6474263796


Please verify that the following address (as entered by the buyer) is correct.

Mr.Rupankar Mahanta

B-27/2,ONGC Colony North Side

Kaulagarh Road,

Dehradun 248195

Uttaranchal India


This order is PENDING approval. Most orders are approved within hours of being placed; however, there may be exceptions. Some items may be considered high risk because of the item cost or description. These types of orders are subject to additional verification and may take longer to approve. You will receive an Order Approved email from us when this order is APPROVED. You SHOULD NOT send this item to the buyer until you receive the confirmation email informing you that the order has been approved before you can ship. If your address information is correct and you do not wish to register, this will in no way affect the delivery of your payment once the order is approved. It may take up to 2-3 weeks for this status to reflect in newly registered seller' account but will not in any way affect the delivery of your money order if APPROVED Thank you for using Western Union® Auction Payments. We look forward serving your online auction payment needs in the future.


Sincerely,


Western Union® Auction Payments

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MAIL-2: (informing me of order approval)

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Subject : Western Union Auction Payment **ORDER APPROVAL ** (27576497)

Dear Mr.Rupankar Mahanta,
A RS 5,550.00 (126.00 USD) Money Order has been approved. Dave Kunal has chosen to use Western Union® Auction Payments for the speed of an online payment service from a name you can trust.

Go ahead to send the item to the buyer while your money order is on its way to you, the buyer's shipping information is provided below. Your money order will be sent by the close of the next business day after you receive this email. First Class mail is typically delivered within 5-8 business days.

Once the item has been shipped the tracking number should be mailed to us.in the next 48hrs DO NOT email the tracking number to the buyer until we verify that the item is on transit and you have your money on the way because we have to protect both you and the buyer against Fraud. A copy of the money order is attached to this mail,The money order will be delivered at your residence. Note that the money order will not be delivered to you if you do not dispatch the item as soon as you recieve this mail.and you have 48 hrs for you to send the item Shipping information for the delivery of the item are as follow:-

Mr.Obazee Endurance

No 30 Lawani Street,

New Benin Benin City,

Edo State Nigeria 23452

Sincerely,

Western Union® Auction Payments

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End of reproduced mail text

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I had enough of this and need to take action. I had read in a site what we all should do in such cases. Unfortunately our law enforcing agencies could do nothing to get these scammers. All that we could do was to get the e-mail accounts suspended for abuse and made the scammer put extra effort to create new ids.

This is one version of the scam. One of my friend Ashish had another experience. His buyer was in India and asked him to ship it to another place in India. The buyer also made payment through Paisa Pay in eBay. He was sent the payment by eBay and he also despatched the item. But later eBay sent him a mail reporting of a payment fraud and chrged him the entire amount eBay had paid him. But fortunately he had the courier slip as proof of despatch.

If you are buying: The seller will ask you to send the payment to a different address then what is registered. If you do, you are gone. Take notice of someone selling new items at exceptional low price, e.g., someone selling Sony handycam at 10000. Try to ascertain the price in grey market. 1000 bucks here and there is OK. But more than that is sure sign of fraud.

So what do you do to stop this:

First of all, report this member to eBay through Security Centre link. Ask them to suspend the user account. Then get the emails, from which the scammer communicated with you, suspended for abuse. Note down the email from which mails were sent. For this you need to report this abuse to the email service provider from where it was sent by forwarding these scammers mails. You will get the address to whom this is to be forwarded by replacing the part ahead of @ by the wiord 'abuse', e.g., if the mail was sent from say xxx_yyy@yahoo.com, then forward these mails to the address 'abuse@yahoo.com'. Change the subject to [419: Lagos / Nigeria : eBay] scam. Also forward the mail with original headers that contains the trail for investigation. In body of the mail write:

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Dear Yahoo,

This email id xxx_yyy@yahoo.com is being used for [419: Lagos / Nigeria : eBay] scam. Please suspend this account.


Regards.


[Your full name]

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I strongly suggest that you should do these. I got both the emails from where he sent mail and also the from where the bogus money order was sent got suspended.

Please tell others:

Most of us had at some point of time explored e-bay (earlier baazee.com). Baazee.com was somehow a relatively safe place for online trade. In fact I had purchased a digital camera and then also a Sony handycam through Baazee.com. Ever since it was taken over by e-bay, a horde of scammers got themselves registered and may be duping not so net savvy traders. Educate others to save them from falling a victim. You can visit the sellers forum in eBay to know more about it. I got to know a lot from this excellent link which you may also like to read --Fraud in the name of western-union-bidpay in ebay

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posted by Rupankar Mahanta at 5:59 PM

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