The following scam targets eBay, Junk Mail, and etc sellers, who may be tricked into shipping goods to Lagos, Nigeria (or other foreign destinations) without any payment.
In most cases, the criminal contacts the seller and offers a high price for an item on sale. He or she will request that the item be shipped to Nigeria, any West African country (or other foreign country) via a parcel service (Fedex, DHL, UPS, EMS) and will explain that the buyer will pay (e.g) via “Western Union. This is a legitimate company, but that doesn’t matter in this case, because it’s not actually involved. Please be warned.
The way the scam works is that the seller is told the money will only be released by Western Union when the buyer supplies a tracking number, i.e. when he has already shipped the parcel. To get the seller to ship the parcel, the criminal himself poses as Western Union, sending an email from a free webmail service to the victim using an email address which mentions Western Union or BidPay, for example “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com“, assuring the seller that Western Union has received payment from the buyer and will release it as soon as he submits the tracking number as proof of shipping. A seller believing this message to be sent from Western Union will lose his merchandise and the shipping costs.
The PayPal version of the scam
Another variant is a fake PayPal payment notification sent by the criminals. Unless a PayPal payment shows up in your actual PayPal account you have not received money! MoneyGram is also mentioned in some scams involving eBay/Junkmail and etc articles to be shipped to Nigeria (or other foreign countries)
The Western Union MTCN version of the scam
In yet another variant of this scam, the buyer will provide a real Western Union Money Transfer Control Number (MCTN) to the seller, which can be checked on the Western Union website. However the buyer will not tell the seller who sent the money, thereby making it impossible to receive those funds. It’s like showing someone a wad of dollar bills but not handing over the money.
The “Ukcitibank” version of the scam
Yet another twist on the same scam is a fake email claiming to be from Citibank UK, informing the seller that the buyer has made the requested payment and has a large account balance with them. The email address of the fake bank can be an MSN PA domain such as “ukcitibank.com“.
Reports have been received from buyers who backed out of Nigerian mail order deals who received threatening emails supposedly from the FBI but actually sent via a free webmail address (e.g. “firstname.lastname@example.org“). The scammers told the sellers they were being investigated by the FBI for fraud for not shipping the goods to Nigeria. Don’t let yourself be intimidated, contact the police if you have any doubt!
If you receive any documentation of this kind or have been a victim of this scam, please contact us and provide us with a detailed report of your account and the e-mail documentation. Read our other posts in the Safety & Security section of our blog for more information about scams.