I’ve Been Scammed!

When you start to think something is too good to be true, then it probably is. I know this is somewhat of a cliché but it is when you drop your guard for just a moment when scam artists attack. This is my experience of a Classifieds scam.

Last month I wanted to sell my ever so reliable Toyota Corolla so I put it up on Carsales, Carsguide and Gumtree.

My 1999 Toyota Corolla Seca CSi

My 1999 Toyota Corolla Seca CSi

Within the first two hours I had an enquiry from a Michael Seay who was “OK with the price and the condition.” I believe this enquiry came through Gumtree. He couldn’t call me or come and inspect the car because he works on a rig as a “mechanical engineer.” Michael was buying this car for his vacation and had already contacted his courier who was going to deliver it to his place in Darwin.

Click on the email image to enlarge it

Michael1

At this time I was unaware of the scam and thought he was a genuine buyer. The only thing was I thought it was a little weird he wanted to freight the $3000 Corolla from Sydney to Darwin, a 3929 kilometre drive!

Within 30 minutes I sent him an invoice through my PayPal account and asked for his:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Licence number
  • A copy of his licence

Michael replied within 30 minutes asking me to remove the listing and note it down as sold. His pick up agent was going to sign the transfer papers on his behalf.

14 and a half hours later Michael tells me he needs to pay his pick up agent before they can schedule a pick up time. They were charging him $950 to deliver the car to Darwin and this payment had to be made to their “corporate international headquarters” which is located in China. Of course because Michael is at sea he didn’t bring his credit card aboard so he wanted me to transfer the $950 for the courier via Western Union money transfer to an account in China. He assured me he would add the $950 to the $3000 he is already paying for the car.

Michael2

At this moment I was a little annoyed that I had to sort out the bill for the courier but I was still somewhat delusional that I had sold the car so quickly. I forwarded this email onto my father, being a former employee of Western Union he is a little more receptive to scams, he told me to cancel the invoice straight away because I was dealing with a scam artist.

This was the first time I had even considered this to be a scam but I was still giving Michael the benefit of the doubt.

3 hours later Michael tells me he has completed the payment of $4050 (the extra $100 is to cover the Western Union fee). He told me PayPal won’t release the $4050 until I email them the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN), sender name and address. He also gave me the agent’s details to send the $950 to:

Name: Zhangyun Ni

Address: 12 ding fu jia yuan

City: Beijing

State: Beijing

Zip Code: 100024

Country: China

Michael3

This is when I thought it was a bit strange for PayPal to not release the $4050 until I’ve transfered $950 to another third party. I was not about to transfer even a cent of my own money until I received the money from Michael. What was even more suspicious was that my PayPal account said I had not received any money, contrary to what Michael was telling me. I asked Michael again for his details for the registration papers, he replied with:

Michael Seay

35 Creswell St

North Territory, Australia 0810

Licence number: 115783

DOB: 06 July 1975

I then checked my junk mail folder and found a few questionable emails from ‘PayPal’. While the initial name said it was from service@paypal.com the email address under that name was usersenquiry@mail2consultant.com. This email told me to do what Michael had already told me, transfer the $950 to China then I’ll get my $4050. It told me this transaction was done via their e-mail payments service and that any inquiries and necessary information should be sent to us by directly replying to this message.

PayPal1 PayPal2 PayPal3 PayPal4

It took me up until now to release this was a scam after I googled Michael Seay and found a number of scam alerts. I knew PayPal never had an “e-mail payments service” and thought it was weird that this transaction wasn’t going through PayPal instead it was going through e-mails. It was a classic phishing email. I immediately cancelled the invoice to this so called ‘Michael’ and stopped my correspondence with him.

That’s when a chain of emails came in from both ‘Michael’ and ‘PayPal’ demanding I transfer $950 to his “pick up agent” in China.

Michael was getting worried because his “account had been debited” and he had not heard back from me.

Michael4

PayPal was telling me to give them the MTCN control number, proof that I transferred the $950, then $4050 will be credited into my account.

PayPal5

The next day I received another email from PayPal ordering me to transfer the $950 to the “pick up agent” in China within 24 hours otherwise legal action may be taken against me.

PayPal6 PayPal7

While this was going on I was also receiving other similar enquiries from:

Barry Oliver

Barry

Sandra Crisell

Sandra

Glenn Dawood

Glenn

Juliana Julie

Juliana

Can you see a common theme with these enquires? All but one wanted it delivered to the Northern Territory, the least populated state/territory in Australia, they all couldn’t phone me and they all didn’t have their credit card details on them.

Looking back on the emails I noticed terrible grammar and simple spelling mistakes, even on the phishing PayPal email.

This is a common scam where the scam artist sends the seller fake PayPal emails (phishing emails) urging them to transfer a third party in a foreign country a nominated fee. It is an advance payment scam. The scam artist then receives that money, in my case $950, and I never hear from them again. They are $950 richer. They only need to sting a couple of people with this scam every week to do well.

That is why I am writing this and posting it on the internet, to educate people of this scam. The more people aware of this means less people will fall for this trap. I forwarded the phishing PayPal emails to the REAL PayPal. I also informed the The Australian Competition and Consumer Commision’s ScamWatch about this scam, although it is a very common scam that has been around for at least five years now. The reality of it is that these organisations receives hundreds if not thousands of these reports every week so to investigate everyone of these instances would utilise too many of their resources.

The real responsibility lies with the public. We have to be aware of these scam artists that rob Australians of millions of dollars a year. The ACCC reports that in “2011 losses arising from scam activity totalled almost $85.7 million, a 35 per cent increase on the amount reported in 2010 ($63.5m) – and this is only reported losses. The total could be much higher.” (AIC) The National Consumer Fraud Week is from the 17-23 of June. The ACCC wants Australians to “outsmart the scammers.” The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (ACFT) are constantly gathering information of scams to improve the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of scam offenders. We have to be alert to these foreign scam artists and have the mindset of not being so trustworthy when buying or selling on the internet.

As my Papa always tells me “In God we trust, everyone else pays cash.”

 

Sources: 

http://www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=46616

http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/tag/Scamwatch/

http://www.aic.gov.au/media/2013/january/20130109.html

10 thoughts on “I’ve Been Scammed!

  1. It is now the 26th of June 2013. And the exact same thing happened to me earlier today.. I really want to do something to stop this. It’s likely that this scam artist will keep on doing this. And the fact that he/she keeps on doing it, is because they have at least on some occasion been successful.

  2. This has also just happened to me. I use paypal to buy items but have never sold anything before so didn’t think it too strange at the email I got telling me that the money had been deducted from the buyers paypal acct but I had to ring a number to confirm the transaction before my account would be credited. I Started to think it was a bit odd when the number I called was disconnected, but then 10 seconds later I received a phone call from a blocked number claiming to be PayPal and asking for money to be transferred via western union for a courier, and when I said I didn’t have a computer in front of me they asked for the name on my credit card. Now I deinitely knew something was up, said I would call back tomorrow. I decided to do some research and came across this blog post. Just wondering what happened in the end, did you just ignore the emails saying they were going to take legal action (because obviously they can’t!) Did they eventually stop calling and emailing? Just wondering where I should go from here. Hope you can help me!:)

  3. Im dealing with the same thing at the moment , i told the scammer that i didn’t have money for petrol and asked him to send me $50 dollars so i cold get to town to transfer the money, he has so far declined sending any money and keeps asking for the MTCN from western union, my next move will be to tell him GOOD NEWS ! because of the inconvenience i have caused him i have organised a courier myself and the lounge is on its way to him COD ,

  4. The EXACT same thing happened to me word for word, however this person was named.. ‘Rose Russell’ email being: roserussell611@gmail.com Just FYI PayPal will never ask for payment through Western Union. This is the first sign that you are being scammed. I really wish they got a life and stopped scanning innocent people. How they sleep at night? I just dont know.. Thanks and becareful guys! Something needs to be done. We live in such a corrupt world you think maybe the ‘heirachy’ know about this and have no intention of stopping it. It’s very sad!

  5. Thanks for this write up! I just got contacted by SMS from ‘Rose Russell’:

    Is your car listed on quick sales still for sales?please advice on your firm price with present condition and email me on
    (roserussell611@gmail.com)thanks

    I followed up with an email to that address and got this classic response you’ve documented so well.

    I knew then it was a scam but thank you for confirming for me.

  6. I am SO glad I read this before proceeding, I was just about to leave for the post office to send the money order off to the “‘agent’ that lived at the exact same address and has the exact same name!

    THANK YOU!

  7. Comment: I got spammed bad. I actually sent the funds and now i cant get my money back. Everything you said was true exact thing happened to me. $1350. They asked for another 3000 and i got suspicious then and called the cops. But i cant get my money back

  8. It just happened to me, and unfortunately I sent 600$ until I was asked for an additional $550. Figured it was a scam then and now can’t get my money back.
    The scammer is going by the name, Daniel Brent now. Same address used.

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