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November 28th, 2008

Paypal Is Being Used In Popular Nigerian 419 Scam

A new variant of popular Nigerian 419 scam is possible via Paypal, according to report by Inquirer. The 419 scam is named after the relevant section of the Nigerian Criminal Code and the premise is always the same. Somebody offers to pay money into your account and give you a cut when you send it back. In truth the whole thing is money laundering but this latest twist – using Paypal – is significant because, on the surface, it looks like there’s no catch.

Instead of receiving the offer via email (as is normally the case), this person was approached over a Skype chat session. The perpetuator wants to transfer funds out a Paypal account and convert them back into US dollars. All the victim needed to do was check his Paypal account and when the money arrived, send a significantly lower amount back via Western Union.

Due to Paypal’s payment reversal policy, there is a loophole which enables the scam to work. As the payment would be classified as ‘services’ rather than goods, there would be no proof that the the victim – who becomes the ‘vendor’ – provided any goods. So the ‘buyer’ – in this case the scammer – gets the money back. In the meantime, the vendor has sent the dollars via Western Union and then finds himself stuck with no means of recourse.

Both Western Union and Paypal can be blamed for making this scam work. Western Union makes it too easy to send and receive money anonymously while Paypal’s dispute resolution procedure system is a crude automated system.

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    9 Responses to “Paypal Is Being Used In Popular Nigerian 419 Scam”

    1. Wood Miller Says:
      March 9th, 2009 at 10:10 am

      We decided to post an old ring we had and didn’t want to Craig’s list – out first online sales attempt and we got several very quick responses (yellow flag). They all wanted to buy “the item” (yellow flag) sight unseen (yellow flag) using PayPal or AlertPay and would include $100 for shipping and handling. All they needed was my name and the e-mail address I used to set up the account. I checked out PayPal and set up the account and then sent my information to the first buyer. I very quickly received a very official looking message addressed from [email protected] telling me the money had been deposited and to ship the item to an address in Nigeria (Red Flag). I did a quick Google search and found many people reporting a similar scam. Then I checked my PayPal account and found the balance to be $0. I’m glad I checked before just shipping the item and I’m sure others wish they had.

    2. I had my canon DSLR camera posted on marketplace at facebook for sale. A lady sends me an e-mail saying she will buy it. She told me if I could end the auction and she would pay me through paypal. So, I closed the auction and gave him my paypal e-mail. She said that she was living in U.S. and the camera is for her grandson’s bithday present in Nigeria. Here is the e-mail:

      i am really interested in buying this item for my Grandson in west Africa as a Birthday gift and i will be offering you $3,250 including the shipping cost to west Africa kindly get back to me with your pay pal email address, so that i can send out the payment as soon as possible.
      Thanks and Stay Bless

      my reply :
      my pay pal email address is the same as my gmail address :
      [email protected]

      After that, I receive email from paypal :
      PayPal Mar 08, 2010 : PDT
      Transaction ID:Jan/16/2010 3D228926MW045920S

      Hello xxxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxxx,

      You have an instant payment of $3,250.00 USD from JENNIFER COLE ([email protected],)

      Thanks for using PayPal. To see all the transaction details, log in to your PayPal account.

      It may take a few hours for this transaction to appear in your account.
      [email protected]

      Note to seller xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
      You have to provide to us the shipment tracking number so that your funds can reflect in your account as soon as possible.
      Shipping address – confirmed
      Name;………Abraham Ekpo
      Address:…..N0,33 Olayinka Street Ijeshatedo

      Shipping details
      USPS Global Express Mail United States Postal Service
      Description Unit price Qty Amount

      *Canon EOS 500D/Kiss X3 for MYR*
      Item# Not Applicable $3,250.00 USD
      $3,250.00 USD

      Shipping and handling $00.00 USD
      Insurance – required $00.00 USD

      $3,250.00 USD
      $3,250.00 USD

      But something fishy about this is the seller is a white lady buying for her grandson, Abraham Ekpo ? Try to add her as friend in facebook, but no reply and when checking the trx ID, it was on 16 Jan 2010.
      On top of that, I only sell the camera for MYR2900, but she paid USD3250. It was nearly RM10,888. I was shocked and excited, but to be safe I checked first at google and find out that it was a Nigerian scammer.Thank God I did’nt proceed shipping after read all the stories.

    3. gilberto ramirez Says:
      June 16th, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      I got the same email from nigeria heres a copy

      Thanks for the quick response,i will offer you $2700 for it including shipping via USPS/EMS to oversea.I am willing to place a bid but i am resolving an unauthorized accessed issue with my account which as caused a Temporary Bidding inability.I am also a seller,but i need this urgently for My Son,as a birthday gift by next week because he`s currently on a project in West Africa.With my status on ebay i can make the payment without bidding or buy-it-now,just let me have your full name and paypal email to send the paypal transfer funds asap.Waiting for your reply.Thanks a lot.

    4. I tried selling a camera on ebay and I had 10 more hrs to get when I received an e-mail from a lady claiming she lives in the UK. She wanted to buy the camera for $1,100 and pay $120.00 for shipping. She also said she would send me the payment thru Pay pal.I was selling the camera for 999.00. So I though that was a bit strange but ok. She also told me to take it off of the auction so she could the item, since I only had a few more hrs I just let it expire and then I then e-mailed her and told her to go ahead and send the payment via my pay pal account. I then received a payment verification thru payapl from @[email protected] so I thought. Something didn’t feel right, so I checked my account at Paypal and there was nothing pending so that’s when I knew it was a scam. I sent her/them a really nice e-mail letting them know that I know what they are doing and that I would turn everything over to the FBI. So I say be careful if it’s just too easy and definitely go with your gut feeling. Check your paypal account , because even if something doesn’t get released until shipment is sent they will have it pending on your account.

    5. i got the same nigerian spam who send me details about payment from a non paypal adress :
      [email protected].”
      We have received an order from one of our customer to make an instant payment of $550.00 USD into your PayPal account. The payment has been made successfully and the money has been not be credited into your account. We are waiting for you to send us the proper tracking number before we can credit your account and this is due to the large increase in the rate of the online scams recorded last year (2009). We have changed some of our rules and regulation to make sure our clients (Seller and Buyer) are safe from scam, PayPal in conjunction with The FBI and The I FCC has invented certain preventive measure to ensure the safety of both our seller’s and buyer’s in this Month…

      Such measure are:
      1. Once a payment is made,A confirmation Email will be sent to the seller that the payment has been made to state the transaction details which has been sent to you. Also a confirmation is sent to the buyer that the money has been deducted from his or her account. So once you get this mail,You should ship the item immediately to the address that was given to you by PayPal and send the tracking number to Us. Once the tracking number gets to us, the seller’s account will be credited instantly. But unknown condition will thetracking number be given to the buyer unless the seller’s account is credited and likewise will seller’s account be credited until we get the tracking number.

      2. Once a payment is made and it has been approved by PayPal, such transaction is Sealed (because both seller and buyer must have come to a conclusion before payment is made by the buyer) so therefore neither the buyer or seller can cancel this transaction or ask for the returned to the buyer’s account. Also, this is where we generate our income, because the more transaction made through PayPal, the more we generate our Income.

      3. Failure to abide by these laid down safety measures by Paypal may leads to suspension from PayPal and further more invitation to an interrogation with the F.B.I
      So can you see we are very considerate about the safety of both buyer and seller.
      **PLEASE NOTE**
      This PayPal® payment has been deducted from the buyer’s account and has been ” APPROVED”but will not be credited to your account until the shipment reference/tracking number is sent to us for shipment verification,so you go ahead and ship the item and get back to us with the shipment tracking number so as to secure both the buyer and the seller. Below are the necessary information requested before your account will be credited. Send tracking number to us or email us through this mail [email protected] and our customer service care will attend to you. As soon as you send us the shipment’s tracking number to us for security purposes and the safety of the buyer and the seller, the money will be credited to your account.

      Thank you for using PayPal!
      The PayPal Security Team

    6. The same thing happened to me-I listed a camera on craigslist et al. The scammer went so far as to send me an “official” email from the FBI saying that they would show up on my doorstep very soon if I didn’t ship the item immediately. The official email even included snapshots of people being arrested. Funny though, the FBI has very bad grammar.

    7. So the newest email in this scam is from “[email protected]” I posted a projector on craigslist and he responded within and hour. At first he seemed legit becuase he wanted to bargain and that usually doesnt occur with these people. I gave him the price and he was fine with it and I got the email saying the money was sent. I contacted him for his address and he stated in previous emails that he was in Maryland which is when the first flag went up. I could’nt figure why he included an extra $100 dollars for a shipment that was 4 hours away. The next flag went up when James Adams from Maryland had an African daughter with a name nobody could spell. I told him to give me his address and I would ship it to him and he could send it to her. Naturally I wasn’t going to send it I just wanted to see if I could get an address to send the authorities to. If you get something from him or anyone else and you use paypal they have an email account you can forward the messages to and they investigate it and will let you know if it is legit. Hope this helps

    8. Hi Jay, actually I’ve just got scammed by him! and I actually have never heard of the news about nigerian scammer bfore. and, well, it was a bad day! so, did u do something about it? did u actually sent him the item? truthfully, I don’t know what to do. I hope you can give me some advise if you experience the same thing. Thank you.

    9. i was happy that i checked the scam reviews, i wrote the address to find it on Google when it pops out about scams . i read it and change my mind.

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