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Robert Siciliano

Craigslist Scammers Ship Checks Via FedEx

/ by Robert Siciliano

FedEx isn’t responsible for this scam, but their brand unintentionally lends credibility to the scammers, who reference FedEx in their scammy emails, knowing that aligning with FedEx helps their scam proliferate. It’s an insidious ruse that hurts all involved.

FedEx can and should deny suspicious online transactions. Moneygram and Western Union could also make some effort to deter scammers. It’s hard to weed out the bad guys, but there are technologies that help.

What kind of scam am I talking about? A good friend recently called to ask what I know about check scams. He had received a $2,400 check from a major chemical company via FedEx. He had no idea why, but mentioned that he had placed an add on Craigslist, asking $150 for an item he wished to sell, and that a deaf woman had called him through a translating service and offered to FedEx a check.

I explained that this is advanced fee fraud, or a shipping scam, and that he will undoubtedly receive an email demanding that the difference be paid to shippers.

Maybe the scammer pretended to be deaf, using the translator service as a third party to scramble the caller’s location. Or maybe the buyer really was a deaf woman.

But why send a check for $2,400, and why from a chemical company?  Probably because it was the only seemingly legitimate check the scammer had printed up at the time, and it’s a nice score if he sends back the $2,250 difference.

My buddy was flabbergasted to think that anyone would fall for such a scam, and insisted that if someone came to his house to pick up the purchased item and demanded he pay the purchaser $2,250, he’d punch them in the face.

Shortly after getting off the phone with me, he received this email:

“Hello Dean,

How are you doing today?

The check has been delivered via Fedex,Thanks for your honesty towards this transaction so far.Well, the overpayment is meant to cover the cost of shipment for the item alongside my other properties including tax and insurance plus the movers and agent fees.

Please deposit the check today so that it clears tomorrow after the check has cleared,All you have to do is go the bank and have the rest of the money withdrawn in cash and have it sent to the movers via money gram

Here’s the movers information below.

Name : Jason Shambaugh

Address : 2330 Contra Costa Blv

City : Pleasant Hill

state : CA

Post code : 94523

Do let me know your schedule for the week regarding pickup as i have some other properties to be moved alongside the item. Please do act accordingly as agreed after deducting your money for the item, make the rest fund available to the movers via money gram Money Transfer at any of their outlet around you or check on www.moneygram.com{click find us} and check for their outlets around and get back to me with the transfer details below (as it appears on the receipt) so i can contact the movers for the pick-up at your location ....Deduct the money gram money transfer charges from my fund also $50 for yourself (meant for any hassle or run around).

  1. Sender’s name and address
  2. Reference number {which is the 8 digits number on the Money Gram receipt}
  3. Actual amount sent after the fee had been deducted

Hope i can trust you with the overpayment? Your Honesty and transparency will be appreciated”

The email also included the FedEx tracking information, with my friend’s address. Looking up the shipping address on Google maps reveals an office building, which most likely has some vacancies. The scammer probably has some connection to the building, allowing for anonymous shipments.

Craigslist could easily prevent the majority of these scams easily by using device reputation management.  Many Craigslist scammers based in Ghana, Nigeria, Romania, Korea,  Israel, Columbia, Argentina, the Philippines, and Malaysia spend their days targeting consumers in the developed world. But real-time device reputation checks, such as those offered by iovation, can detect computers that have been used for auction fraud and expose all of the accounts associated with the suspicious device or group of devices. This provides Craigslist and other websites with the opportunity to instantly shut down sophisticated fraud rings and thousands of fraudulent accounts.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses scambaiting on Fox News. (Disclosures)