PayPal Scam in Nigeria.

In an exciting time for my wife and I, we have been doing some changes to house in preparation for the arrival of our first baby on January 6th. Like most modern tech savvy men I elected for online classifieds to sell our old furniture, in this case eBay and Craigslist.


Almost instantly there was a hype of interest for my items through Craigslist. One buyer, Mikel Boldon, in particular wanted to instantly send me money so we could arrange transport for a bed to Malaysia. Here is the first email from the potential buyer:

Thanks for getting back to me on here,i will take it for $650 including PayPal surcharges since i am interested in the immediate purchase.I just moved to the Malaysia,where this is needed and i will be making use of a shipping company to have this picked up from you and have it delivered to me.Further arrangements will be made with you in regards to the pickup once i have paid you.

I would appreciate if you email me with more pictures (if available) too since i won’t be able to see this in person,what’s the PayPal email to send funds to in order for me to pay you ASAP.

I hope to read from you soon.

Thanks
Mikel

I was encouraged by the swiftness and eagerness of the Mikel, but then it turned sour when I received this email:

PayPal


You’ve got new funds!!!

Dear Scott Bales,


This email confirms that you have received an Instant payment of $1,550.00 SGD from Mikel Boldon (mmmbmm1@gmail.com) via PayPal MERCHANDISE Payment Service.
Reversals : This method of payment can not be reversed.
Status : Pending  Transport Company Awaiting Payment.
View the “NOTE” of this pending transaction below



Payment Details
Merchandise Amount:
$650.00 SGD
Transport Charges:
Taxes and Insurance:

Total:

$900.00 SGD
    ——-

$1,550.00 SGD
Transaction:
5X472815E1267414M
Quantity:
1
  Merchandise Title:
Malm Queen Bed & Mattress
 



 
Transport Company: ” MTR Services Sdn Bhd “
Address:

Name:Aaron Ramos
Address:No. 73, Jalan PJS 9/18, Bandar Sunway
City:Petaling Jaya
State:Selangor
Zipcode:46150
Country:Malaysia
Address Status:
 Confirmed https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=p/pop/confirmed_address



NOTE:  This is to confirm to you that the said amount has been successfully transferred by the Sender and been deducted from his Account which is ready to be credited into your account, been that this Payment has been subjected to be a Payment for an MERCHANDISE purchased from you, we reserve the right to make sure this transaction is safe and secured also to verify the legitimacy level on this transaction because of the high sum of funds involved.

The above sum has Included the transport charges and taxes as we and the Transport Company quoted for the buyer (as per PayPal MERCHANDISE PAYMENT POLICY). You will receive a Message from the PayPal Customer Verification Department Shortly informing you on how to send the Transport fares and taxes to the transport company with the above details as soon as possible.



You may contact PayPal customer service by Clicking Here or reply directly to this email by using the reply button in your Mail Box and Quote the Above Transaction ID for quick recognition of this transaction.


Sincerely,

The PayPal Team. 



PayPal Email ID PP307


The email almost looks legitimate, expect this scammer was unlucky enough to come across a seller with a background in Financial Crimes and the email smelt of ‘phishing,’ but out of curiosity I played along.


PayPal has a brilliant fraud & scam service, where you can forward any suspicious emails to spoof@paypal.com and they will investigate. While the investigation was going on, the emails from the scammer pretending to be PayPal continued:

PayPal

 Dear Scott Bales,

 You have received a PayPal Payment of $1,550.00 SGD from Mikel Boldon (mmmbmm1@gmail.com).

We’ve placed a temporary hold on the funds of this transaction
In order to complete this transaction and get the funds approved in your account.We advice you go to nearest Western Union Money Transfer Office,and send the excess sum $900.00 SGD to the Transport Agent and send us a Scanned Copy/Photograph of your Western Union Transaction Receipt (in .JPG Format).
As mentioned in the receipt of Payment and as per New PayPal Payment policy, we have fully debited the total amount (above) from the buyer’s account which included the Transport/Delivery Charges (MTR Services Sdn Bhd Logistics).

NOTE: This is important as a security measure to ensure safety of this transaction.

Please, find below the name and address of the Transport Agent where the Funds would be sent via Western Union Money Transfer.

Click Here Locate Nearest Western Union Office


Transport Company: ” MTR Services Sdn Bhd “
Address:
Name:Aaron Ramos
Address:No. 73, Jalan PJS 9/18, Bandar Sunway
City:Petaling Jaya
State:Selangor
Zipcode:46150
Country:Malaysia
Address Status:
Confirmed https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=p/pop/confirmed_address

https://www.paypal.com/us/mrb/pal=KZAL42RVE3MQS
Your Account will be credited accordingly upon the receipt of details requested. Should either be sent in JPG format or send type details as:

(1) Sender’s Name;
(2) Receiver’s Name;
(3) MTCN;
(4) Amount Sent;
(5) Western Union Receipt



You may contact PayPal customer service by Clicking Here or reply to this message directly using the reply button in your email to submit the required information and include either transaction ID or reference number (PP307) quick recognition of this transaction.


Sincerely,

The PayPal Team


PayPal Email ID PP307


And again:

PayPal


Dear Scott Bales,

Your Pending Payment Statements

From:       mmmbmm1@gmail.com
To:          
scott@starmonkey.com.au
Amount:   $1,550.00 SGD
Status:     Pending, Awaiting Approval (Western Union Money Transfer Details)


Attachment:

Please be advised that verification of Western Union Money Transfer Details of $900.00 SGD (which must be sent as deposit to Buyer’s Shipping Agent) is required to complete this “Pending” payment sent to you by Mikel Boldon. Therefore, you are mandated to complete the refunding process within 24 Hours. Your account is being monitored through PayPal Security Systems.

Upon the receipt of Western Union Money Transfer Details, your account will be credited accordingly which will include all cost charged for transfer via western union money transfer at PayPal cost.

You are require to send us the Western Union Information below for Verification:

(1) Sender’s Name;
(2) Receiver’s Name;
(3) MTCN;
(4) Amount Sent;
(5) Western Union Receipt

Below is the Confirmed & Verified Agent’s address where you are mandated to send the money:

Name:Aaron Ramos
Address:No. 73, Jalan PJS 9/18, Bandar Sunway
City:Petaling Jaya
State:Selangor
Zipcode:46150
Country:Malaysia

 Address Status:
Confirmed https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=p/pop/confirmed_address



With more than 147 million accounts worldwide, we are a leading online payment method you can trust.


Thanks for using PayPal.
A. Williams,
The PayPal Team.


Then in less than 24 hours PayPal’s official response from the investigation came through:

Dear Scott Bales,

Thank you for contacting PayPal.

Thanks for taking an active role by reporting suspicious-looking emails.
The email you forwarded to us is a phishing email, and our security team is working to disable it.

What is a phishing email?

Phishing emails attempt to steal your identity and will often ask you to reveal your password or other personal or financial information. PayPal will never ask you for your password over the phone or in an email and will always address you by your first and last name.

Here’s how you can take our Fight Phishing Challenge.

   1. Go to the PayPal website.
   2. Click “Security Center” at the bottom of the page.
   3. Click “Take the Fight Phishing Challenge!” Under What’s New

You’ve made a difference.

Every email counts. By forwarding a suspicious-looking email to spoof@paypal.com, you’ve helped keep yourself and others safe from identity theft.

Sincerely,
PayPal, an eBay Company

Copyright © 1999-2010 PayPal. All rights reserved.
PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. & Cie, S.C.A.
Société en Commandite par Actions
Registered Office: 5th Floor 22-24 Boulevard Royal L-2449, Luxembourg RCS Luxembourg B 118 349


Confirmation that the guy was a scam. But again my curiosity got the better of me. I hadn’t been replying to the scammer’s emails, just collecting and observing. His emails got more and more aggressive, even threatening to deactivate my PayPal account. And then today he called me, stupidly he left caller ID on and from the +23 (+2348074437547) country code I instantly knew it was from Nigeria. He was very annoyed that I hadn’t paid the $900 fee through Western Union for the shipping company and he reminded me that this was urgent for him as he was new to Malaysia. That’s when one question from me ended the whole episode….”If your in Malaysia, why are you calling from Nigeria?” He instantly hung up.

Why did I share this? Because one thing I learn from my days in Financial Crimes is stories like these, including the real email addresses and phone numbers so that others can forward the story to others to build awareness of scams like these. So I encourage you to Tweet this blog, share it on Facebook or LinkedIn, email it to friends and family so that more people are aware.

Lastly I’d like to add that PayPal did a fantastic and swift job in investigating this incident.

13 Comments

  1. TheGuru

    Scotty! :-)) Nice going. 🙂 – Guru

  2. Ashay

    Good one.. thanks for sharing the classic case of phishing..

  3. Jay

    Awesome work. I googled that gmail account and it brought me here. I knew there was something fishy about his email.

    He tried the exact same thing, except he was offering $750 for a couch that I was selling on craigslist.

    Great work and cheers,

    Jay.

  4. Bart

    If it's to good to be true it usually is. I received the identical first email and sent a follow up to make sure I had the details correct. He came back with all the right answers and then followed with the same PayPal Scam email but was phishing for $1,000 via Western Union. Craigslist seems to be the target of choice. Thanks for the confirmation and glad I could add to it.

  5. hbrown78

    Thanks so much we have a similar story we got exactly the same email for a bed on Craigslist. We also goggled him and it brought us here.

    Exactly why I love the internet

  6. I love

    Thank you so much for sharing the story.. i had a similar story, received exactly the same email for furniture in gumtree…

  7. G-Money

    Thanks for sharing! I just got the same email from him for something I posted on Craigslist (Singapore), and luckily, I Googled the email address, and voila!

    Why would anyone offer to pay more than your asking price? It's obviously too good to be true. Be alert, everyone! Don't get greedy!

  8. Dendelion

    Thank you for posting this.
    If I haven't search on google to link to this page, I would have chance to read your stories and probably be the next victim been cheated by the same person with same email writing who offering higher price to buy my item online to ship oversea!
    thanks goodness!!

  9. Ms L

    thanks for posting this!

    I'd just put up a craigslist advert for my sofa for $800 and he offered $1150. Almost went along with it but decided to go with my hunch and did some Google investigating.
    Too good to be true is really too good to be true – thanks for posting this up!

  10. 152152251

    Hi everyone,

    I've also been in the exact same situation. This guy who goes by the emails: alexjoe002@gmail.com and terryjoe1985@gmai.com, requested to get my laptop and in the end after sending the shipping number he said that i needed to refund $500SGD as paypal made an ERROR…haha..what an idiot… i totally ignored him and totally blocked him off.. he even threaten me with the FBI…

  11. sonike

    Hey 152152251,

    I jus got offered to buy my camera from the same seller, alexjoe002@gmail.com too.

    He insisted to pay me extra via paypal, but when i checked his paypal account is not verified. Did a screenshot of that and mailed to him. He did not reply to the screenshot, but kept on asking for my paypal address.
    Then i sent him a screenshot of your comment above, he has stopped emailing me!!
    That was fun!!

  12. Edwin

    Thank you so much for blogging this up! I discussed the deal of selling my piano up to the point when the individual “made the payment” via email. I was quite taken aback and distracted by the extra amount given for transport charges, that I did not even notice the “official email” which was NOT paypal.

    Thankfully you posted this up such that I could be educated by this similar case. So thanks for what you are doing!

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