Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spam Scams from Craigslist and Elsewhere, Buying, Renting, Selling, Responding

In the past few days I have spoken with several people who experienced contact from scammers after they tried to rent, buy or sell on Craigs List or other popular sites.  Since "Green" type people are particularly fond of recycling by buying and selling good used items, I thought this would be a timely topic.  Whether it is renting, buying furniture or a used car, etc. one must exercise great care.

To start with I would suggest never giving out your address or phone number if possible before actually calling and speaking with the interested party.  Craigs List makes this easy by providing an anonymous service option.  If receiving a response from posting there, ask the person to provide a phone number that you can use to contact them.  If your instinct is that they seem like reasonable people after a phone conversation, you can proceed from there.  Never give out bank or other financial information in the early stages of contact.

Here are some typical features in a SCAM answer.  Something will be said like:  I am a religious person and go to church every Sunday (these guys are really giving religion a bad name).  I am very respectful of property (in case of rental).  In one case the "property owner" said it was a magnificent property, but they were out of the country and would rent it out sight unseen for a very low price if the potential renter would just mail a cashiers check without seeing the place.

In fact, there always seems to be some reason why the parties cannot meet--out of the country, in a remote area without phone service doing some great humanitarian work, on the road and lost cell phone, etc.  They often say their father will be responsible for all payments, and in the case of renting your property will even give several months in advance as soon as you provide the requisite full name, address, phone number, and your bank information so they can send the money there.

There is often a convoluted personal history.  My mother is from Brazil, my father is from Austria, and I am on a remote island in Hawaii with no phone, but that's OK because my father will pay everything.  In one case several years ago I got two different scam emails apparently from the same person with varied details except they said they were a female 5'8", and they were NOT a lesbian.  I have never had anyone legitimate  volunteer their height or weight, or their non-homosexual status.  I have had a few male renters mention that they were gay, but this is the DC metropolitan area and some might find that a plus.

[Feb. 2017]  Here is one of the more bizarre scam stories I received recently.
     "I will introduce myself first to you, My name is Miss. Xxxxx Xxxxxx, I lost my Father, my hero and my lord Mr. Xxxxxx Xxxxxx years ago. He was poisioned to death by his associate in business. He formed a company by one Mr. Xxxx Xxxxx who poisioned him only to take benefit of the multi million venture. He was arrested immedaitely my Father died and he entered an agreement with my father's brothers that I and the immediate younger brother of my father will represent my father's interest in the company. After six months I was kicked out of the company because I said that we have to change the company's lawyer who I termed was part of the elimination of my father.
     I did not know that they have changed all the company's document without my name appea ring any where. I will have to let you know more detail on that but let me move to the point why I am contacting you. I have been nick named bastard by my father's relations, They have named me all source [sorts] of names even calling me outcast because my father is late [dead], while my father was the bread winner of the family. They have pushed me out of my father's mansion and still want to eliminate my life.
     I got through the records of my father account books three weeks ago while crying and meditating, which I beleive was inspired by the spirit of God, I discovered that there is a huge sum of money he deposited in a bank, which is $x,x00,000. The note attached to the deposit agreement he made with the bank indicated that, the money was to be used to purchase machinery for the establishment of a new company of his own.
     Please all I need from you is to do all you can to help me to get this money out of the bank. etc. etc."  [So of course all Miss X needs from me is all my bank information, etc.  Spelling mistakes left in.]

This past year I have received two urgent emails from acquaintances of mine saying they were in a country in Europe, everything had been stolen from them and they desperately needed money to get back home.  There were also more details about their "tragedy".  Fortunately, I had their phone numbers.  NEVER answer this kind of email.  When I phoned they explained that someone had hacked their email and contacted all their contacts, and they were working with the police to try to stop/catch these crooks.  They also had to change their email service and a lot of other messy detailed actions.

In this case there may have been a "worm" infecting their system that could actually catch their key strokes while being made, even their passwords. You need to back up your data, then need to clean your system [don't ask me now that is done]. Don't use simple minded passwords, leave your email information lying around were it can be looked at like in the office, change your password often, and have good virus protection.  One friend had lost her cell phone with a lot of information on it.

I even called the FBI a few years ago when a number of these scams came my way.  These mostly seemed to have an African origin.  The FBI said there was a lot of this coming out of Nigeria, but the problem is that they could have their phone or email service coming from anywhere, so it was very hard to track them down and prosecute.  So I guess the first principle has to be ALWAYS BE ALERT FOR A SCAM.

Here is the content of a scam email I have received.  They even have the nerve to say they are anti scam workers with the IMF.   Recently Bank of America was hit by these types too.
   "Attention: Beneficiary
WORLD BANK AUDITORS/INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUNDS (IMF) had meeting
with the British Government, Nigeria and as we received a report of
scam against you and other British/US citizens Etc. The countries of
Nigeria have recompensed you the following  meeting held with the
four countries' Government and various countries' high commission for
the fraudulent activities carried out by the four countries' Citizens.
     According to the number of applicants at hand, 184 Beneficiaries has
been paid, half of the victims are from the United States, and we
still have more 37 left to be paid the inheritance fund of Nine
million, seven Hundred Dollars ($9.7Million USD. Signed by British
Government of United Kingdom,On behalf of IMF.
     Did you sign any Deed of Assignment in favor of (TOM BROWN) Thereby
making  him the current beneficiary with his following account
details?  [omitted for space, but they say he is CITI Bank]
     We shall proceed to issue all payments details to the said Mr. TOM
BROWN,if we do not hear from you within the next two working days from
today.
     DR.ERIC UBA, DIRECTOR OF PAYMENT/ SPECIAL DUTIES, WORLD BANK AUDITORS"

And then there is this next one.  Can you believe the Federal Reserve wants to give me $1,570,000.  Well, neither can I!  Hey you pikers at the Fed, the IMF wants to give me $9.7 million.
     "Attn; Beneficiary 
     We use this medium to inform you of the payment approved to be made to you by the WORLD BANK through the Federal Reserve Bank New York.  In a meeting that took place on the 21st of Aug. 2014, you have been granted Financial Assistance/Sponsorship and awarded compensation by the WORLD BANK Charity Humanitarian Mission aimed at providing financial support for people around the world.
     We have been asked by the WORLD BANK to Compensate/Award you the sum of US$1,570,000.00 from a reserved account which shall be released to you either by wire transfer or Pre-loaded VISA ATM card. This payment has been approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the WORLD BANK and the FBI/INTERPOL. These precautions were taken to prevent legal issues while receiving your funds so be rest assured you will have no legal issues.                                       To receive the funds immediately contact our offices directly via all of the information below: OFFICE OF CHAIRMAN FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
JANET YELLEN
xxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com                [I put x's in place of their addresses]
OFFICE FOR FUND REMITTANCE
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@usa.com
     Furthermore, we wish to inform you that we recently received a letter from a Mr. Bradley Williams detailing explicitly that you passed away and him being your next of kin is entitled to the funds. He requested for your funds to be transferred to him.
     To avoid remitting your funds into the wrong account, all mails should be directed to office of the chairman Federal Reserve Bank JANET YELLEN with your FULL NAMES, ADDRESS, LOCATION, AGE and CONTACT NUMBER.
     The Federal Reserve Bank New York will not be held liable if funds are transferred into the wrong account. Your funds will be remitted to you immediately we hear from you.
The WORLD BANK charge you to use these support funds wisely for it is our aim to help as many individuals become financially independent.
     We assure you of the legitimacy of this transaction and its safety, contact Janet Yellen now by email (xxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com or xxxxxxxxxxxxxx@yahoo.com) and call our office directly (202 xxx-xxxx) to receive your funds ASAP. Congratulations!
Yours in service, Janet Yellen, Chairman Federal Reserve Bank New York"

Most recently (Jan. 2017) comes this email I condensed from an "anti-Spam group", HA.
     "Attention: Beneficiary
...the World Bank president...treated on solution to Scam victim problems.  ...your name submitted...therefore the United Nations...agreed to compensate...USD$500,000.00.
     ...contact Agent xxxx...forward...Your full name, your country/city, your delivery address, your telephone number, your age, your occupation and your ID card or passport."
     How can anyone be so stupid to think the UN is giving them 1/2 million dollars??  And the gall to say these Spammers seek "solutions to Scam victim problems", as they Scam you.

I recently went to clean out my Spam folder and found the following examples:
1)  Alanna Dow wanted to offer me a"customer service assignment" paying $200.  All "she" wanted was my name, address, phone number, sex, age and email address.  What, no request for bank account numbers and SS number??
2)  Several Bank of America notices they "detected unusual activity" and I should "download" since some of my activities would be suspended until this was fixed.
3)  Fed Ex International Mail Service "could not deliver your(my) item."  I should "download" their "shipping label."
4)  Wells Fargo detected "unusual activity" at my (nonexistent) ON LINE account, and of course I must "download" to fix it.
5)  American Express said I must "authenticate account" by "downloading file and update account."  Since for years I have sent back all their mail to every variant of my name they could find, with the request to take me off their mailing list and DO NOT SOLICIT, this Spam was either a very sneaky attempt to get me for their customer, or another typical Spam email.
   Of course there were many of the usual solicitations for male enlargement (my sex is ambiguous because of my name), Viagra, Dr. Oz weight loss help, Canadian pharmacy, million dollar offers from Africa with inheritances, instant loans, service repair contracts, and messages in Chinese that I cannot read.  Delete, delete, delete, delete.........  There were also a few legitimate contacts that were sent to Spam and I got them too late to act on the invitations, so I guess I just have to look at the Spam folder more often.  Grrrrrrr!!

[7-22-16] - This creative scammer (so called bank official) wanted to give me 40% of $37million of a dead mans unclaimed deposit:  "My proposals is that i will like you as a foreigner to stand in as the next of kin or distant cousin for us to claim this money, so that the fruits of this old man’s labour will not get into the hands of some corrupt government officials who will later use the money to sponsor war in Africa and kill innocent citizens in the search for political power."  So much better to put money in the hands of corrupt non government people.

If you have had an internet scam/fraud experience, by all means share it with a Comment.