How the scam works:
You want to get rid of a big personal item, such as a couch, fridge, oven, boat, car or bike. You post it for sale online, on Gumtree, Kijiji or Craigslist and apparently you have some luck. Within minutes, you receive a text message or email similar to the one below:
“Hello, I am interested in purchasing your boat. My name is Sharon Hair and I'm located at (address in your country). I actually want to purchase this for my brother as a surprise. I would like to purchase at the listed price so that you won't sell to anyone else. I really have interest in buying it and I'm not within your premises to pay cash, or if you can open a PayPal account, I'll be very happy to go on with this transaction. Can you get the PayPal account ready and provide me your email address?”
The conversation may vary, as some of the scammers are smooth and might want to open the chat with a couple of other questions (“What's your lowest price?”, “Can I see more pictures?”, etc) – just to get your trust. Alternatively, the scammer might say that he can't come and inspect the item himself, as he is working at the sea or in some other environment where he cannot even use a phone. He will mention a shipping agent will come to close the deal.
However, let's say you open that PayPal account and provide the potential “buyer” the email address affiliated with the account. As you confirm that you created your account, you'll then get a fake PayPal email, informing you have been paid extra, just so you can pay the shipping agent for them. Usually, the “extra amount” specified by the scammer is a few hundred dollars. That's where the scam occurs: they ask you to pay the shipping agent via Western Union and the payment is released to you after you have done that. Needless to say, you send the money to the agent and never received yours.
How to avoid:
It is a red flag every time somebody wants to buy a large item without seeing it. Another one is if the “buyer” refuses to have a phone conversation. Think about it, if he is at sea and can't have a phone conversation, what are the chances he has constant Internet to go back and forth with your emails? Sell your item locally, face to face. Also, report the scammer here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a list with names, emails, and SMS numbers that scammers have been using in the last little while in North America and the United Kingdom:
John Greenfield, Sharon Morgan ( 1 951 888 3614), Marc Bonhomme, Julia Paige, Kathy (email@example.com), Pavel Milan, Sharon Hair and Paul Jason (both from 61 428 465117), Jay John, Michelle Clint (0428 465 117), Andey, Alex More (0428465117), Mark Vaughan (951 8883614), Harley Smith (915 888 3614), David Lucas (firstname.lastname@example.org), Alpa (email@example.com), Victoria Hill, Alley Barry, Janet Maxwell , Jason Maxwell, David Scott, John David, Mark Omoauntee, Eric Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org), Terry Lesley (email@example.com), Paul Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Kellie Estrella (email@example.com, 614 28465117), John Owens, Gerald Dawson, Neil Robbie, Maria (301 9662359), Jody Williams (201 4778423), Terri Bower (firstname.lastname@example.org), Apostle Helen, Maria Murphy (mariamurphy19@gmail>), Allan Macain (442 242 0019 and email@example.com), Kessy Dowell, Richie Richard Todd (firstname.lastname@example.org), Philip Pertel, Keith Scott (email@example.com), CC Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org), Phil Koch (email@example.com), Brian Lewis, Dmitry Matushev (firstname.lastname@example.org), Caryn Sundling (or Caryn Sundig).
Report any other names if you are being approached.
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