Thursday, March 10, 2016

2016 Update on Fraud

The last email from Nathalie which descended into comedy.

Fraudulent buyer

I did passingly comment earlier that in one week in 2016 we had 2 fraudulent scam buyers contact us.  Let me be clear.  These people are out to swindle us, to commit a criminal act of fraud.

In 2015
We reported a similar fraud and later worked with the Swiss Police to more clearly identify it

2016 Update
Here is how the scam works

- You place an advert to sell something.  We use or ebay or ricardo etc.
- The Fraudster contacts you asking to buy the item
- We are living in Switzerland, the buyer has asked us to post to France (usually) or on 1 instance Switzerland.  However, the actual criminal can actually be located anywhere since they can easily sign up for a French or Swiss 'looking' email address online.
- They suggest to pay you using paypal
- You provide your email address for them to pay you
- Instead you receive a fraudulent email, pretending to be from paypal indicating that you need to provide proof of posting, after which funds will be released to you
- The email can look convincing.  However Paypal does not operate this way.  There is no holdback for proof of posting facility.  You simply send the money to your registered paypal 'email address' and it arrives.
- To verify this you would logon to the https site of your paypal and check
- If you do post the item and reply to the fraudulent email, the next step is that they will ask you for some money in some way
- Since you have sent the goods you are tempted to comply else you feel that you will lose the goods and receive nothing

In reality
- The destination name and address may be false, or to 'innocent' parties who are not directly part of the Scam
- The trick is that you will be sending them some money, for clearance, for goodwill, or for any number of implausible reasons
- They are in general not interested in the goods, only the money that you will be sending them.

Digging Deeper
- The fraudsters can (at best) hire innocent people, who they ask to receive packages and send them on.   They can say to these people they will be paid to receive packages and forward them for a fee.

In reality such people are rarely paid, and when sellers send packages, and do not receive payment they will report these 'forwarders' to the police.  So their forwarding career will be brief.

- The destination addresses can also be the addresses of random people or of 'celebrities'.  

One thing is 99.99% sure, the fraudsters are not at the physical addresses given.

And So the February 2016 Fraudsters are:

And the Fraudulent Paypal emails were sent from

Example Emails

What Changed in 2016
Since the 2015 fraud attempts:

- The Criminals hold a longer dialogue with you regarding the items that you are selling
- They exchange a few 'generic' emails with you about the item.  For example: is it still available, is it in good condition etc.
- This makes you feel like you have a real buyer

When this happens to us, it is not enough to remain silent about this kind of shit.

I am personally affronted and very bitter that this necessarily raises my challenge sceptic level to all anibis or other online buyers. 

So at the very least report any such actions to the police. And, wherever possible to the online sales website too, though in our experience they often don't have a procedure or way to address such issues, which is pretty disgraceful in itself.

How to Protect Yourself

- Ideally sell to people in a face to face transaction
- Understand how Paypal works.   Contact a friend and try sending them some money, and having it send back from your friend to you.   Really see what notifications are received in such a transaction
- Ask your buyer a simple question about the product they are buying.  If they know zero about it, then be suspicious.
- Be extra vigilant when the buyer is in a different country.  Because then your local police can't directly prosecute the criminals.

We like a Happy Ending

Somebody just emailed us to say they found our Blog Post and took appropriate action.  We are happy to have helped.

Mika: Happy Ending

2015 Fraud

To Repeat
If you are the victim of fraud in Switzerland, particularly using the website then please report this to the Swiss Police so they can help combat it.   If you still don't know where to start, contact us and we will do our best to help you.