I've been subject to a number of e-mail fraud attempts the last months.
The fraud are planned to work this way:
Someone contacts you and want to buy something rather expensive from you. They then want to pay with a check which due to one reasoning or another (often they claim that they got the check from a third party customer) is set to a higher sum than that which you demand for your goods. Happily you go to your bank and cash in the check, and if the people on the bank are naive enough they give you cash for it right away. The people which claimed they wanted to buy your goods demand to get back the excess amount, which you, since you are an honest fellow, send to them. A few days later the bank people discover that the check of course is uncovered and demand the money back from you.
If the fraudulent people are really successful they will in the end get both your money and your goods.
Here are a few tell-tales of a fraudulent business proposal of this kind:
- There's no real address in the message, and if you search the net for the names mentioned in the mail you will probably not get any relevant hits.
- Find the originating IP-address in the mail and search for it (as a phrase) on Google. You will probably get a lot of hits about "Mugu" and Nigeria scams - these are the same people.
- The IP-addresses often originate from Nigeria or Great Britain. Check this with either the RIPE database or CheckDomain.com.
- A Yahoo E-mail account is almost always used.
- It's almost always urgent.
You can protect yourself from this by:
- Never, ever accept deals were the customer are eager to pay you a larger sum than you asked for.
- Never accept checks as payment unless you really trust the one paying. Use PayPal for handling money online.
- Never arrange meetings with these kind of people unless you bring your army with you and plan to use it.
here are a few authentic mails I've received (And no, they haven't managed to fool me, but they do sound pretty convincing at first don't they?):
I am a private interior decorator located in the Netherlands . I have a client who's beenhearing of your works and is very much interested to buy any nice outdoor sculpture fordesigning a new home.
Do as much send me lists and prices of your available quality sculptures so that my clientcan be able to choose the best prefered one.
Awaiting your urgent response .
this is teresa store, i have visited your website and i am veryinterested in your items, i want you to kindly get back to me withbetter information so i can place my order in your store, and i wouldalso want you to advice me on your mode of payment. and for theshippment to lagos nigeria.
i want you to get back to me as soon as possible so that i can orderimmediatly.
awaiting to read from you.
From: rodrick stan
Question: hello max,
with reference to your advert,i hereby wish toindicate my interest in buying your dickhead tanks artwork.is itstill available?if you are interested,contactme through my mail address.rod.............
I can sell the Dickhead Tanks to you for $200 each, both (there are only two made) with freight ($50) included; $450.
Payment via PayPal ( http://www.paypal.com ) is usually the easiest and safest way.
I write to inform you that your price $450 has been accepted.However,my client made out a US certified cashiers check before he travelled to moscow for a diplomatic call,for a previous artwork and its shipment charges etc,but it was unfortunately sold.The amount on the check he deposited for the artwork before he left is bigger than what should be paid to you now, so the check is now meant for the total expenses which includes the purchase of your artwork,the pick up of the artwork from its present location and the shipping charges/other necessary shipping arrangements.So we want to know if we shall carry on with that.I will get back to you as soon as i conclude issues with him.Please get back to us as soon as you recieve this.
End of conversation.
My name is Femi Olu from Nigeria,I am America citizen here in Nigeria,and own this items store here in Lagos State Nigeria and I would like to order for this product from your store below:
Items: 3 Qtys
THE GOLDEN ROUTE, Oil and acrylic on wood, glossy varnish. 66 X 39 cm (25 X 15") Year 2004
Kindly mail me the cost and the shipping cost via UPS to Lagos StateNigeria,So as to have you paid with my credit card for you to chargefor the order urgent.
Hope to hear from you back urgent.
My note: This one is slightly different, it's not a check fraud. Instead the person behind it is fishing for my bank account number. "Femi Olu" went silent when I insisted on using PayPal for payment.