As you may recall, I’ve recently put my Stick Bass up for sale on Craigslist for the sole purpose of raising some much needed cash to make ends meet and I didn’t expect to get a response or, indeed, any serious inquiries.
Then I got this message yesterday from Sam Williams, who writes:
Hello, How long have you been using it and what is the minimum price?
Could it be? Does Sam really want to buy my Stick Bass? I respond:
I've had it since December of 2009. $1800 is about as low as I'm comfortable going.
Immediately, Sam writes back:
Alright, the payment will be made via PayPal for the safety of both. so i will like to have your PayPal email address where the funds will be sent. And also the address where it will be picked up because am arranging for a pick. I may not be able to come check it myself because am busy here as am currently out of the states. But the reason am buying is because i will be needing it as soon as am home. so i'll need it to get home before me. So as soon as the funds is cleared in your account, they will come for the pick up. Please write me back today.
Ok. He’s out of the country, he needs a Stick Bass urgently and he’s going to send someone over to pick it up and needless to say at this point I’m somewhat leery but I’ll give Sam the benefit of the doubt.
And with that, I send him the information he requested – my email and home address.
Now, some of you are probably wondering why I’d send a perfect stranger my home address. Isn’t that an invitation to an ax murderer? I’m not worried about it: I live on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere. There’s only one road in and out of here, to say nothing of a narrow road that extends a quarter mile from that road to my house, is bracketed on both sides by a fence and a hedgerow of oleander as to making a quick U-turn impossible.
And, like any good rancher, I’m armed to the teeth.
Sure, you could try to come in from the adjoining rice and alfalfa fields on either side of the spread but you’re liable to invite trouble as my neighbors take the concept of private property as seriously as a heart attack and they’re more trigger happy than I am.
Now you’re forgiven if I come off on you as some sort of gun nut but nothing is further from the truth. Out here in Farmville, if I had to call the local constabulary to come help me in the event of an emergency it would take them up to nine minutes to respond. That’s nine minutes in which I and the rest of my family could be murdered at least fifteen times over. It’s understood by said constabularies that I (and others like me) who live out in these hinterlands were to ever call 911 it’s a heads-up for them to bring a mop and bucket as there’s going to be some very dead bad guys splattered all over the property.
It’s a matter of practicality that weapons are owned, stored and always at the ready out here on the ranch. Unlike you city folks, we’re on our own out here.
At any rate, since it seemed like I was going to be paid a visit from someone on Craigslist I had to go and make sure the house was prepared for their arrival. This meant (at a minimum) the x-ray machines and metal detectors were set up, the lookout spotters were posted along key points, weapons were placed in innocuous hiding spots on both my person and in the common areas within three steps in any direction, the personal IEDs and tripwires were all in place and the dogs were set loose.
I was ready.
Then the following message from Sam Williams arrived:
Hi, i was about sending the funds when i got an email from the shipping company in charge of the pick up. They said i needed to pay a pick up fee in other to schedule and book a pick up arrangement with them. The only form of payments they claim to accept is Western Union and which i have included in your payment So i want you to help pay them the pick up fund. So i will be making an additional of $450 USD to the initial payments. $400 USD will be sent to the shipping company for the pick up charges and the $50 USD is for any transfer charges in the process of sending the money. Western Union transfer can be made at any mart near you.I will be making the payments shortly and will email you as soon as it is done.Sorry for any inconvenience.Thanks for understanding.
Well, that was very nice of him sending me extra money to handle the particulars. Most people I’ve dealt with on Craigslist want you to pick up the tab on the shipping and handling. I have to say I was rather impressed with Sam’s initiative.
That is, until my attention was drawn to this line:
The only form of payments they claim to accept is Western Union
And that’s when the Big Red Flag went up.
My step-father was recently the victim of a loan scam perpetrated by some unsavory, unscrupulous individuals in Pakistan. Even though they had very thick, very obvious Eastern Indian/Pakistani accents, they identified themselves as Misters Jones and Smith.
Like this shipping company, Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith also use something along the lines of Western Union – MoneyPak. The thing these foreign scammers don’t understand is that no reputable company in the United States does purchase transactions through Western Union and MoneyPak. At the very least, they use PayPal.
Most have their own setup to accept money.
I haven’t seen a scam like this before. At first blush it doesn’t look like an obvious scam (say, one in which you find yourself in a fiduciary arrangement with the deposed President of Nigeria). I mean, after all, Sam seemed to be doing me a solid by sending me the extra money to handle the shipping company.
At this point I received a message from what looked like PayPal (I’ll explain why it’s not from them in a moment) saying that Sam had posted $2250 to my account. Upon checking my PayPal account, no money had been posted.
I wrote Sam back telling him that I hadn’t received any money, suggested it might be a delay/glitch in their system and that I would email him back when the money was posted.
Confirmation that this was a scam came some 18 minutes later when I received this email:
His name is Richard Wilson and he assures me that Samuel Williams is legit, which is odd because there was no longer any question if Samuel Williams was legit – I already knew he wasn’t.
Mr. Wilson goes on to tell me that because Sam used the BUYER SAFETY PURCHASE PROGRAM this is the reason why the money was not posted to my PayPal account. I then found this message languishing in my Spam folder, explaining to me how to get my money out of PayPal jail:
If you pay attention to the content of the email, several things will jump out at you indicating that this is indeed a Nigerian scam or, at the very least, someone who was trained in the art of Nigerian email scams – such as the use of the word “Agent”, capitalization errors and font typeface and color inconsistencies.
And that they want me to pay $400 to get my $2250 out of PayPal jail. In all the years I’ve been dealing with PayPal I have never had to pay to get my money from them and, yes, I checked – there is no new PayPal policy called a BUYER SAFETY PURCHASE PROGRAM.
Sweet bleeding Jesus you Nigerian mugus are fucking stupid! What’s even sadder than this is there are people out there who fall for this crap all the time otherwise these Nigerians wouldn’t find these kinds of scams lucrative.
My response to Mr. Wilson?
Yes, I emailed him a screencap of the results of the Google search I did on him, letting him know in no uncertain terms that I (and indeed the rest of the internet) was on to him.
I already know what’s about to happen next. Because of my refusal to play into their hands Mr. Wilson is going to turn around and threaten me with a visit and interrogation from the F.B.I.
To which I initiated a preemptive strike of my own:
Dear Richard (if that is your name): It's amazing to me that in the age of the internet you think you can perpetrate a scam. I've done business over PayPal and Craigslist for years and you're not the first person who's tried this on me. Next you'll be sending me a message telling me the FBI will get involved. Fine, get the FBI involved. I'll wait.
As of this writing it is 6:43 PM PDT Monday, September 2 2013 and so far no response from Richard has been forthcoming.
I’m still waiting.
Oh, yes…here’s how I know that none of this was coming from PayPal:
Closer examination of the email address these messages from Richard were coming from reveals they originated from a domain called techemail.com. Go ahead and take a look at this company’s website. According to WHOIS their domain is registered out of Drums, Pennsylvania.
Must be hard times at PayPal. I know this economy is hurting everyone but it must be particularly bad when a successful money transfer company like PayPal has to resort to using a low-rent free email service.
I guess this was a cost-cutting measure.