Think it can’t happen to you?
Well, it almost happened to be this week if my brain hadn’t clicked on before it was too late. I’m talking about an internet scam so smooth I almost fell for it. I know, admitting it makes me look like a complete nerd, but I’d like to think that my ‘fessing up will prevent someone else from walking in the same slime.
It all started when I put some photo equipment for sale on Craig’s List. Right away I got an offer to buy the equipment. Great! I’d just sold a camera that someone drove 100 miles to come pay for and pick up. Now I was about to make another big sale. The buyer named Nick was in a hurry, too. He wanted it shipped out that same day to his cousin. Right then I should have smelled internet scam. But I didn’t. He wanted it sent out by USPS Express mail and said he’d pay the postage. Reasonable enough. Maybe it was the cousin’s birthday or something. He asked for my Paypal account name and said he’d pay right away and I would get a email from Paypal telling me the money had been deposited.
Sure enough. The email came in including $100 for postage. Time was running out to get to the PO before closing time if I were to get the package mailed that same day. Clue number 2 missed. Why the rush? It was beginning to smell more like internet scam, but I didn’t have time to think about it. That is until I got in my truck and headed for the PO. Clue number 3 hit me between the eyes as I was driving along and thinking if the $100 postage would be enough. You see, the package was to go to Nairobi, the mother of all internet scam locations.
Quick U-turn and go home. I ran into the house and pulled up my Paypal account. No money had been deposited at all. That was the rush. Get me to send off the goods before I had time to really check my account. “You’re a scum bag,” I thought, “but you’re good.” I fired him off a not-too-polite email just to let him know that I had his number.
So, here are the clues to watch out for:
- The buyer is in a hurry and wants the item/s/ shipped to a third address.
- The buyer says he/she will deposit money into your Paypal Account and that you’ll get a confirmation email from Paypal when it has been done.
- The “receipt” from Paypal looks official, complete with the Paypal logo.
- The buyer finally gives you the mailing address just before you run out the door.
- Biggest of all—it’s going to NAIROBI! Duh!
Right after that I got another email from a guy who called himself Hammed. Is it still for sale? If so, he wanted to buy it for his “cousin.” I emailed him that he could take his scam to a place where the weather is consistently hot.