Victim of Fraud
I’m selling my couch. It’s a beautiful couch. I posted it on craigslist. For $2000. Although we got it on sale, the original price for the custom order from Italy was $7000.
Same day as the post went up I get an email. Careysea@gmail.com (who would probably love to hear from you – such a friendly and generous person) wants to buy my couch. Sight unseen. Coool.
I concoct a few scenarios in my head based on the minimal clues: I want a couch, I live out of town. Maybe Carey lives far away and is moving to my area and would like to have some furniture already moved in upon arrival. In fact, living in a part of the world where there are a lot of young students from outside the country it is plausible to imagine a parent outfitting a student apartment with high quality second-hand furniture. But Carey Seagal is not a typical last name for those on a student visa. Not impossible, I suppose.
Without much foreplay and zero negotiation Carey suggests payment through PayPal which I consider an excellent solution to moving a lot of money securely. However, naively, I think, Carey wants me to send my paypal account number – or set one up if I don’t already have one – so the payment can be deposited. Since I understand the way PayPal works I don’t do that. I log into my PayPal account and send an invoice to Carey. That way he, or she, can click on the invoice and securely deposit the money without me knowing her account info – or her knowing mine.
Before long I get an email from PayPal confirming the money is in my account and telling me to “click here”. I don’t. I go to the PayPal website myself and log into my account. SURPRISE! No money – in spite of the email that itemized the $2700 that had been deposited. $2000 for the couch and $600 to be forwarded to the shipping company in Atlanta, Georgia (thousands of miles away) plus $100 to cover the fees associated with wiring the money to the shipping company. Hmmm. Don’t remember that part of the agreement.
Here’s how the scam works:
I’m supposed to click on the bogus email from PayPal (the return address is almost the same as the real PayPal but not quite.) When I get to the log in page it will be bogus but very effectively collect my user name and password. Whatever I type in the password box, I will be directed to the bogus PayPal account showing a balance of $2700.
At this point, if I follow the script, I am elated and immediately look up ways to wire money to the address in Georgia. An address that, undoubtedly, exists – maybe they would like a Christmas card or something:
258 Spring st,NE
Not only do they get my $600, and access to my PayPal account, but they might get my couch, too, if they are organized about it.
Instead, I have reported the fraud to the police, craigslist, and PayPal – all of whom appreciated the information.
Meanwhile, I continue to correspond with Carey. She is still trying to convince me that the money has come out of her account and that PayPal would have sent me confirmation by now. Seems to me that any time she “plays” with me keeps others a tiny bit safer.
Any ideas for what fantastic emails I should send out next?