Saved by Their Greed: How I Escaped A Scam Attempt

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I never thought I could ever fall for a digital scam, because I heard enough stories and I do come with a background in IT, so I know how things work. Little did I know! So here is what happened:

I decided to sell my old laptop, so I went to good old Dubbizle, benchmarked the price of similar laptops, and then posted the Ad there. Few hours later I got couple of emails from individuals asking me about my last price. So I replied to both of them saying the posted price AED 2,700, and the discounted price is AED 2,500 if they were serious. I was considering lowering it even further if they were persistent and were going to take it on spot.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 11.06.16 AM

An hour later, one of them continued the conversation. His name was “Issam Umar” and he sent this:

Okay i will like to purchase this item for my cousin, who is currently working in the Oilfield west Africa, as a Birthday GIFT and i will also be paying you AED3000 for the item and shipping cost Via Emirates Parcel Express Mail so get back to me with your PayPal email address and your full name so i can make the payment today Before i Leave my Office.

So I thought to myself: “Oh poor thing, his cousin must be very isolated from the world and a laptop would make his day, and he wants to finalize this urgently cause it was hours before end of business hours at the postal office and tomorrow is the weekend. This is nice, I will go ahead with him.” Yes, I was hit with a moment of supreme naiveness, but I actually tried to be cautious and asked him why not come meet me and I hand him the laptop and he hands me the cash on spot. Of course, he replied with additional details that made me actually believe him, he replied saying he’d love to meet me but he’s out of town for a project in Qatar and that’s why he needs this done as soon as possible.

So he sent me the payment via PayPal, and asked me to check my spam folder to find the notification from PayPal, I know, I should have taken the hint cause since when do PayPal emails go to spam, right? I checked the email, as a layout it did look like PayPal except for two weird details:

  • The email address showed as this: “Service@PayPal.com <onlinetrackings1@in.com>” hmmmmm.. I suspected it but kept not believing my guts, it looked like the name was set as PayPal email but the actual address was not, and I didn’t recognize its host either.
  • The email stated that the payment was made but is put on hold by PayPal, till I email “onlinetrackings1@in.com” the shipment tracking number, after verification then the payment will be released. My response was: “I never knew they had this feature! It’s a good feature but it doesn’t make sense. They will respond through emails not an online form?!

All those millions of hints, and my guts telling something is fishy, but I insisted that it could still be real. Note to self: NEVER deny your guts feeling ever again!

Through out the email communications, he kept insisting to give him the tracking number and that I should send it out by today. I really don’t appreciate being ordered to do something or rushed to do something, but I kept trying to think, he’s paying the extra buck so might as well.

So, I reached the postal office, and was about to walk in when suddenly I get an email from the other guy who was asking about the laptop in the beginning, and guess what? He emailed me the EXACT same text:

Okay i will like to purchase this item for my cousin, who is currently working in the Oilfield west Africa, as a Birthday GIFT and i will also be paying you AED3000 for the item and shipping cost Via Emirates Parcel Express Mail so get back to me with your PayPal email address and your full name so i can make the payment today Before i Leave my Office.

That finally woke me up from my trance, I went back to check the email from PayPal that mentioned sending the tracking code to them, “onlinetrackings1@in.com”, I checked the email host “in.com” and I went blank for a second, cause this DEFINITELY was not even remotely connected to PayPal! And so it hit me, I was about to courier my laptop to some fraud in Nigeria and not get a penny in return! I was actually falling for a fraud attempt, and the only thing that saved me was their greed by trying to prey on more laptops hence that other email communication!

The funny thing is, I actually emailed the guy and wrote: “I just got an email from another person with exact same text so how do I know it’s not fraud?!” Next thing I know, he calls me and says “No, it’s not fraud, you got the email from PayPal!” so I told him the email was masked by PayPal address but it wasn’t really from PayPal, and when he kept insisting, I told him I’ll report him now, he then instantly hanged up.

Lesson of the day was actually mentioned in dubbizle’s email:

Advice from the dubizzle guru

Be careful: If a buyer asks you to ship the item in return for a bank transfer or paypal, it is almost certainly fraud. Always exchange money face-to-face.

 

3 thoughts on “Saved by Their Greed: How I Escaped A Scam Attempt

    Ken said:
    December 29, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    I am glad you did not fall for this scam, I am currently being scammed too this time the cousin is studying in Africa. Just the difference is I knew it from the start, can you contact me on the email I provided, you may find interesting the ongoing conversation between me and the ”honest” buyer in Nigeria :)

    Mubashir said:
    February 14, 2015 at 3:05 AM

    Thanks for your explanation i enjoyed a lot with the same greedy guy

    Mohammed Umer said:
    February 18, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    and i recived same yesterday … thanx for the post

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