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The Scam

Several years ago, when Eleanor and I were looking for our first travel trailer, we met a nice lady who had an Argosy trailer. She was eager to sell it and received a full price offer from a nice fellow overseas, who planned to ship it to his home in Nigeria.

You’ve probably heard this scam before. The next step is that the “buyer” sends an overpayment via a fake certified check, and asks that you refund the extra money to him (or his shipping agent) via wire transfer, often Western Union money order. If you are gullible, you deposit the fake check (which looks quite real), the money appears in your bank account, and shortly after you send the balance back, your bank informs you that the check was bogus and takes ALL the money out of your account.

We warned the seller that she was about to get taken, and so she didn’t fall for it when the fake check arrived.

stop419.jpg
Courtesy 419Eater.com

This is known as the “Nigerian 419 scam“. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I got contacted by someone wanting to run this scam on me. A few days ago I posted our 1991 Honda Prelude (the one that failed inspection) on craigslist for $500 or best offer. I also posted some furniture.

The next morning I got replies on both items. Both responses were identical, except for the name of the “buyer”:

HELLO,
I AM INTERESTED IN BUYING THE ITEM YOU PPLACED ON CRAIGSLIST ABOVE AND I NEED YOU TO LET ME KNOW IF IT IS STILL AVAILABLE FOR SALE AND IF YOU ACCEPT A CERTIFIED BANK CHECK PLS GET BACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
LILIAN

Clues that this is a scam: “she” didn’t identify the item for sale, didn’t ask any questions, and is offering full asking price with a certified check right off the bat. Fractured English and all-caps writing are also suspicious.

So (because I’ve always wanted to see one of the Nigerian fake certified checks) I wrote back that I would be pleased to take a certified check for the 1991 Honda Prelude.

HELLO,
THANKS FOR THE REPLY,I AM WILLING TO MAKE THE PAYMENT VIA CERTIFIED BANK CHECK SO I URGE THAT YOU SEND ME YOUR FULL NAME,FULL ADDRESS,PHONE NUMBER SO THAT THE CHECK CAN BE SENT TO YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.THE SHIPPING WILL BE HANDLED AFTER PAYMENT IS CLEARED.
PLS GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
DR.LILIAN WILLIAMS

Not wanting to reveal all my personal details, and wondering just how dumb this scammer was, I replied with a fake name and phone number:

“Please make the check for $500 out to my cousin — it is his car.

Ayres T. Reem
PO Box 74
Ferrisburg, VT 05456
802-876-2801

I can sign the title over after the check clears.
Thanks”

I heard back immediately:

HELLO,
I GOT YOUR INFORMATION AND I HAVE INSTRUCTED MY ACCOUNTANT TO MAKE PAYMENT.A CHECK OF $2,500 HAS BEEN ISSUED BY MY ACCOUNTANT AND SENT AND AS SOON AS YOU GET THE CHECK YOU CASH IT AND SEND THE OVERPAYMENT VIA WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER TO MY SHIPPING COMPANY FOR SHIPPING FEE SO THAT THE ITEM CAN BE PICKED UP BY MY MOVER/SHIPPER.
SORRY FOR THE INCONVINIENCES.
N:b: ALL WESTERN UNION CHARGES WILL BE TAKEN FROM THE OVERPAYMENT OF$2,000,PLS GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS YOU GET THIS MESSAGE.
DR.LILIAN WILLIAMS

Gee, what a surprise! Extra money for shipping expenses. That’s a lot of money to spend to ship a $500 rusted car. And where exactly is it going? “Dr Lilian Williams” didn’t say. But I wrote back that this was fine.

HELLO,
THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING,I WANT YOU TO DELETE THE ITEM FROM CRAIGSLIST AND CONSIDER IT MINE.I WILL SEND YOU A TRACKING NUMBER SOON.THANKS.
DR.LILIAN WILLIAMS

So I’m waiting for my check now. Can’t wait to see it. I hear they make good fakes.

Meanwhile, Eleanor and I have given the car away. Yesterday while we were at storage, Colin Hyde came by. He took a few bulky things, including a desk and my old mountain bike, and then Eleanor mentioned the Honda Prelude. Turns out that Colin has an employee who has no car and is going through a divorce, so we gave him the car. He’ll need to patch a rust hole to get inspected, but otherwise it should be a good reliable car for him for at least another year.

Charlotte pumpkin carving.jpg

Yesterday Emma and her grandmother worked on a Halloween pumpkin. (The best part, as always, was the perfectly roasted seeds that resulted.) Pumpkin carving means it’s really Fall in Vermont. I’ll be on the lookout for foliage developing in the next two weeks.

3 Responses to “The Scam”

  1. Zach Woods Says:

    Howdy Rich –

    Have you ever happened upon http://www.419eater.com/ in your web travels?

    Someone from Britain (and it is my understanding he is far from the only person) has made a hobby of “scambaiting” the perpetrators of the 419 scam.

    Quite amusing, if adult, at times, transcripts from his “scambaiting” exploits can be found at his website.

    Zach

  2. terrie Says:

    how about some instructions for making your Mom’s perfectly roasted pumpkin seeds…

  3. DEB Says:

    Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 10:30:58 -0700 (PDT)
    From: “richard williams”
    Subject: Re: waterbed

    HELLO,
    THANKS FOR YOUR REPLY,I AM IN NEWYORK NOW AND THE BED WILL BE SHIPPED TO NEW YORK.
    YOU DONT NEED TO SHIP THE ITEM JUST GET BACK TO ME WITH YOUR FULL NAME AND ADDRESS SO A CHECK OF $2,500 WILL BE SENT OUT TO YOU SO AS SOON AS YOU GET IT,YOU CASH IT AND THEN SEND THE OVER PAYMENT TO MY SHIPPING COMPANY FOR THE SHIPPING OF THE ITEM.
    SO YOU DONT NEED TO SHIP THE ITEM SO DONT CALCULATE THE SHIPPING COST OKAY.
    PLS GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
    DR.LILIAN WILLIAMS

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