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Fighting Fraud

The Craigslist advanced fee fraud.

FedEx has been involuntarily getting dragged along by Craigslist scammers by being mentioned by the crooks. This makes the crooks seem legitimate. Though they place ads on Craigslist, Craigslist has no part in these scams.

The scams at issue here involve checks. Someone receives a check, say for $2,100, from some big company, via FedEx—with no explanation. The recipient, however, will have recently placed a Craigslist ad to sell something for $100, for example. A “buyer” will have offered to purchase it by FedExing a check.

This is a shipping scam, an advanced fee fraud. The next phase is that the recipient gets an e-mail demanding he pay the difference between the big check and what he was selling his product for, to the shippers.

What’s the deal with the big check, and making it appear to be from an irrelevant company? The check is phony, printed off of a machine to duplicate some randomly chosen company’s, and of course, the bigger it is, the greater that “difference” – if the recipient falls for the scam.

Believe it or not, people fall for this ruse. It typically comes with an e-mail explaining elaborate details and instructions about the check, including directions on depositing it asap and sending the difference to the “movers” via MoneyGram. There will be an address and name for the movers. The e-mail will probably encourage the recipient to pocket $50 for themselves for the extra trouble. Included will also be the FedEx tracking information. Some people may look at all the instructions and smell a rat, while others will do as ordered to get that little bonus.

The scams originate from Nigeria, Ghana, Korea, Romania, Malaysia, Columbia and Israel, among other nations, and the scammers target more developed countries.

There’s a way for Craigslist and other similar sites to detect these fraudsters: real-time device reputation checks, like that offered by iovation. This technology can fish out computers that have been used for fraudulent purposes and expose all of their associated accounts. With this technology in place, Craigslist and similar sites can instantly put the brakes on these crime rings and their associated reams of crooked accounts.

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