Bike Seller Warning - Scam Alert
The Sendback Scam is a variant of an old Nigerian fraud where a hapless victim is cajoled into giving out his personal and financial information as well as a "good faith payment" in order to receive a huge amount of money purportedly stolen or misappropriated by a Nigerian banker, government official, etc.
The way it works is simple - a Seller is contacted by a buyer or buyer's agent and an offer is made on the bike. The Seller accepts and the buyer sends along a (counterfeit/forged) payment, usually a money order or cashier's check. The fraud is that the check is for more than the asking price, and the difference is to be somehow sent, usually wired, along to the buyer or third party - the usual excuse is a payment to a shipper, a refund, a payment to a customs handler, etc. Of course the original check or money order is counterfeit, but oftentimes the bank will not catch it for a week or more, and by then the Hapless Seller has already wired off the "extra" amount. And to make matters worse, the bank will not honor the check/money order even though they may have already accepted the deposit and credited the funds to your account (they will take the funds back.) The Hapless Seller is then out the fees the bank may charge, any resulting headaches from writing checks or making withdrawals on a deposit that is later recaptured by the bank, and of course the funds sent off to the Buyer or Buyer's agents.
What follows is a great exchange between a scam artist and an informed seller that is "playing along." Note that the Sellers name and identifying features have been removed, replaced with bracketed descriptives, such as [Seller] and the like. Also notice that the e-mails from the scam artist often look like scripts with spaces and even parentheses for the perpetrator to simply insert the needed information for that particular scam.
The E-mail Exchange
Here we see the typical openings of a scam - a Yahoo! or other anonymous e-mail account, a foreign buyer's agent whose "real" buyer must remain anonymous, and obviously written from a script (notice the reference to a "Car"?)
Our Seller knows this scam and decides to play along...
And the hook. The buyer just happens to have an $8,000 cashier's check laying around and would love to trust the Seller with $4,000 of his "extra" dollars. What's more, the Buyer is such a swell guy he is trusting the Seller to simply wire the money back to him after the Buyer has received a cashier's check. Notice the parenthesis around the Seller's bike, and the word BIKE in caps - it screams "Insert Here."
Again, just playing along...
Joseph, our kind-hearted Buyer, is ready to send the check. I am sure a color laser printer in Nigeria is busy printing off counterfeit cashier's checks (some unfortunately are very well done) and it should arrive at our Buyer's home any day now.
The check did arrive, and looked quite genuine.
Unfortunately, the rest of the tale too often goes like this-
If you do choose to go ahead with a cashier's check or certified check transaction, notify your bank manager that you suspect it may be fraudulent and ask him how you can best protect yourself.
Fortunately the rest of this story went like this ... Buyer received counterfeit check and wiring information and immediately passed it, the wiring info and all complete e-mails (with headers) along to the FTC and the United States Secret Service for investigation and prosecution. Buyer then notified Yahoo! of the Yahoo! E-mail account used for the scam and requested the account be terminated.
Our cooperative seller notified our "buyer" that the check was fraudulent and has been turned over to the authorities, and has never heard from him again.
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© 1995-2016, Ted Verrill