I will buy your car. I work in the Navy and can only use Paypal…

My brother in law is a cowboy hat wearing, boot scooting, ‘if it ain’t a ute, I want nothing to do with it’ type of guy who loves his Bundy, shindigs round a bonfire, sliding sideways through the dirt in a Datto and anything at all to do with Lee Kernaghan. He loves the land, carby fed blocks and steak and chips. So when it comes to confusing technical questions, he usually refers them to me.

And this time around my advice was actually 100% accurate for a change, saved him from getting ripped off in a dodgy online scam and has hopefully educated him a little more about sharks on the Internet.

I wonder what beer he’s going to bring around as a thank you for this?…

‘I NEED YOUR HELP WITH SETTING UP PAYPAL THIS ONLINE SCAM’

Last night he text me about setting up a Paypal account – he’d just sold his unfinished Torana project on Gumtree and the guy who bought it could only use Paypal.

Gumtree and Paypal? Mental alarm bells started ringing as it’s usually eBay and Paypal that go hand in hand. I mean you can still use Paypal in other things that aren’t eBay but usually cash is king on services such as Gumtree.

The guy who was buying it was apparently in the Navy and could only pay via Paypal. Those alarms started to get louder as this story was starting to get a little familiar.

He was also buying it for his son without actually seeing it in person like any other sane car buyer and was more than happy with the price. No negotiation, just a flat out ‘I’m buying this!’, lets do Paypal now!

Those alarm bells just about knocked my head right off my shoulders. It had all the red light markings of an online scam and my poor non-internet savvy Brother in law was just about to roll right into it hook, line and sinker.

online scam

I want to buy your internet advertised item for INSERT FAMILY MEMBER HERE

I AM VERY INTERESTED IN WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER.

HOW THE ONLINE SCAM WORKS

The scammers don’t actually what you’re selling – it could be a wreck of a Mazda Rx7 from 1979, right up to a BMW 5 Series with next to no mileage – they’ll pretend to be interested in the hope of stringing you along. They’ll tell you to deal with Paypal only (using the same stories about being in a location where they only have access to Paypal such as being in the Navy, working in an offshore rig etc) and that they’re buying whatever you’re selling (they rarely name what it is that they want to buy off you) on behalf of someone like a son or friend.

So you get a Paypal account, send them the details and in return you get a fake picture of money coming your way from their Paypal. You think, hooray, cash is coming! Of course they’ll email you shortly to tell you there’s a transfer problem, a block in the system and they need a couple of hundred bucks to clear it. Please send through this fee to get things rolling again. It’s okay, they’ll pay you back.

Oh and can you please use Western Union Money Transfer? That’ll be much quicker than Paypal.

Sadly people have and still do fall for this, wiring a few hundred bucks away in an untraceable process and then wondering what the hell happened when there’s no answer two weeks later. No money actually arrives in your newly setup Paypal account, you still have the car but you’re now down the tune of a few hundred dollars from someone who just preyed on your good nature.

Welcome to the million dollar industry of online scams kids.

How to tell if someone is trying to take you for an online scam ride.

Luckily there’s a few telltale signs:

  • If you’re selling a car and someone wants to buy it without even laying eyes on it, checking the history or attempting a test drive, something is up. Legitimate buyers have done this in the past but usually on ultra rare, collectors cars that they simply must have.  It usually doesn’t happen on normal priced common cars you’d see on the road daily.
  • You can’t talk to the supposed buyer by anything but email for reasons such as ‘I’m in the Navy’ or ‘I’m working on an oil rig and we don’t have phones here..’ The same excuses why they’re using Paypal and Western Union Money Transfer instead of bank accounts or good ole cash. If you somehow managed to call them there’s the fair chance that you’ll hear an international dial tone..
  • They don’t actually mention the make and model in their initial email. That’d be too much hard work when it’s much easier to copy and paste the same generic online scam email to hundreds of unsuspecting buyers at the same time.
  • Western Union Money Transfer (and Moneygram) is a massive favorite of 419 Scammers and their ilk who spend quite a lot of time in internet cafes in Lagos, Nigeria. Local buyers would not use such services.
  • Scammers are generally rubbish at punctuation as well as sentence structure and it’s fairly obvious when you struggle yourself to make sense of it. Lack of spaces at full stops are a dead giveaway. This is an excerpt from a random scam email that constantly fills up my jun mail folders on gmail: I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria, Russia and Pakistan, they refused and kept the money to themselves.Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them. The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of Six million united state dollars $6,000,000 that I have with a bank I will want you to dispatch it to charity organizations if only you will be sincere.
  • They just accept your top dollar price. No haggling, no negotiating, nothing. Who doesn’t want to make their new car purchase a bit cheaper?

What to do if you get a online scam email

Delete it. Destroy it. Stop communicating with these idiots. Whatever you do, don’t send any money as you’re never ever going to see it again. It’s an online scam and no you haven’t found an exception to the rule because they sound so sincere, stop now.

There are hundreds of stories of people falling for online scams, please don’t be the next one.

 

The one positive thing out of all of this though is that the online scamming community doesn’t seem to update it’s method often as I’ve seen very similar emails circulating around the world for the last couple of years. More and more people are becoming aware of these tactics and are properly armed with information. And now I can happily claim my Brother in Law as one of them.

Now after all that, who wants to buy a local Torana project?

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