Naked Trees & Naked Greed

I went for a late afternoon drive on the back of the Island yesterday so you’re getting some weird photos of bare trees. 🙂 They form the back drop for the following fairly brief description of a scam a friend encountered the other day. It has the basic components of one we’ve heard of before. What was new – at least to me – was its use (and abuse) of Paypal.

I thought I’d include it here, not because I think any of you would fall for it, but to demonstrate the audacity of this type of person. I’m sure it happens all the time but it’s my first experience with somebody pretending to be the online service they are using. You’d think this would be shut down quickly.

My young friend is going to school in Saint John and I got a message to call him ASAP. He worked on a number of boats this past summer with the intention of reselling them to support himself this year and on Thursday put one of them for sale online. Within a few hours he was contacted by somebody who claimed to be in Calgary and wanted to buy the boat on behalf of a “private client”.

This guy, we’ll call him Fred, insisted that my friend take down the listing and complete the sale. There were some complications though. It seems Western Union (!) was closed so my friend would have to deposit money in the “mover’s” bank account to ensure that the boat would be delivered to the buyer. Once that was done, and confirmation received, the full purchase price (plus the mover’s fee) would be put in my friend’s Paypal account. Yeah – this was a scam.

My friend wanted me to call him because he already had his suspicions – but since the messages he was getting were being delivered through Paypal he thought they might be legitimate. Also this boat is worth thousands of dollars and he really wants the money. I think he was hoping I’d tell him it was OK to go ahead. I didn’t.

I told him to “ghost” the guy and just stop dealing with him. He didn’t but did finally tell Fred that he didn’t trust him and wasn’t going to do any deals with him. Fred replied that “he is a good Christian and would never cheat somebody”. It was at this point it got (from my point of view) interesting. I’ve read that various online scammers deliberately include misspellings etc., because people who don’t notice them are more likely to fall for the scheme. Fred is really focused on finding them.

Fred sent (through Paypal) a message insisting that his instructions be followed (the ones where my friend would give a bank account $850 with the promise of thousands once that was confirmed) and attached the following message supposedly written by Paypal.

Now, if you ignore the warning bells set off by a mispelled email address, the grammatical mistakes, the threat to send my friend to jail for 5 months, etc., the ones in the red lettering are impossible to ignore. The idea that Paypal would tell you that “you don’t have to contact your lawyer” because “this is not a SCAM” is laughable. The message has been forwarded to Paypal’s security department and is included here for your amusement.

Please forgive my messy attempt to conceal the scammer’s supposed business name. The rest of the message should be legible. I hope. 🙂

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