While I love my park-anywhere Suzuki Swift it is time to graduate to a larger mommy-mobile. So … I listed my car on a few Trinidad & Tobago car selling websites. After a couple of days I got a note from a Brian Connelly at email@example.com asking me all the usual questions: how old is the car, mileage, condition, etc. I answered. Then he responded with thanks and to send to him my email address associated with my PayPal account for payment. Immediately I got a bit suspicious. Considering the fact he couldn’t do anything with an email account (which is the one I use for junk anyway) I sent it to him to see what would happen next.
Sure enough the next morning I opened my email to see a messy attempt at fraud. Seriously … if you are going to do this, be a bit smarter. While I see effort to make the emails look legit, small things like grammar errors, spacing issues, inconsistent font and size, unusual customer service email addresses, questionable instructions, multiple duplicate emails sent at the same time and odd timing were instant red flags. This is another one of those times when I am thankful for my keen editor’s eye.
Here’s a summary of what happened to help anyone else who may encounter something similar.
- Timestamp 12:30 a.m., January 10, 2015 – 10 emails to my yahoo address from firstname.lastname@example.org® stating a payment from Brian Connelly was received.
This is my favorite part of the email (Really … you are going to tell me NOT to contact PayPal to verify receipt?):
Note: As this transaction was done via our e-mail payments service, all inquiries should be directed to us by replying to this e-mail as it is the one being monitored for your transaction which is because the status of this transaction and include either transaction ID or reference number (PP1557) quick recognition of this transaction.
- Timestamp 12:43 a.m., January 10, 2015 – 10 emails to my yahoo address from email@example.com® giving me instructions on how to complete the transaction by sending the moneygram transaction info (for the $1300 to Brian’s shipping agent) first.
- Timestamp 12:46 a.m., January 10, 2015 – Multiple email to my yahoo address from firstname.lastname@example.org® stating the payment was on hold. “This is to notify you about the Payment made by Brian Connelly to your PayPal account.The payment has been successfully made but due to security reasons we have to receive the MoneyGram transfer information before your account can be credited.”
- Timestamp 12:53 a.m., January 10, 2015 – Brian sent a note to my gmail address saying he encountered a hurdle with his shipping agent who now required him to pay $1300 upfront. So Brian suggested he add $1300 to his PayPal payment so I can send $1300 via Moneygram to his agent and that he would send me a note when the payment was made. (Think about the timing. If this was real, this would have been sent first.)
- Timestamp 1:20 a.m., January 10, 2015 – An email from Brian telling me payment was sent to and to send the $1300 via Moneygram to his shipping agent
- Timestamp 7:08 a.m., January 10, 2015 – An email to my yahoo address from email@example.com® reminding me to send MoneyGram transaction details to complete PayPal payment. (Notice the word “enjoin.”)
- I check paypal.com and call PayPal to confirm my balance. No money was transferred. (I knew that would be the guess but a girl can wish, right?)
- Timestamp: 10:21 a.m. January 10, 2015 – I emailed firstname.lastname@example.org stating no money was sent via PayPal and my preference to send me the money via bank wire transfer. (Hey … I could at least try to get $15,000 USD!)
- Timestamp 3:49 a.m, January 11, 2015 – Brian responded that the money was there and to check my junk mail folder for notification. I particularly liked his instructions to “make sure you go through the content of the notification of payment from paypal so that you could understand the payment procedures to get the payment credited into your account.” Meaning the fake instructions to send MoneyGram transaction info.
- Timestamp 7:13 a.m. January 11, 2015 – Another reminder (with lots of exclamation points) to send MoneyGram transaction details.
- Timestamp 7:19 a.m. January 11, 2015 – Brian responded with an email about how he was disappointed. It is such a jewel I couldn’t resist sharing the whole text with you (I copied it exactly as it was written):
I just wanted to let you know I am totally disappointed with your attitude.It’s been few days after the payment has been made. I want you to confirm that you’ve indeed received the payment confirmation. I wonder why you have decided to stop writing me ever since you have gotten the payment confirmation.I explained earlier to you about the problem i had with the pick up agent. I hope you do not intend to steal from me by keeping mute.I need a detailed confirmation of the transfer of the funds you have sent to my agent at once.Here is the agent information to send the money to via MoneyGram transfer to the name and address below
Name:Alexis Juanita Hood
Address:6610 Baltimore Natl Pike
I will need the details of the transfer once you have sent fund . . .
1.The MTRN number that is the 8 digits number on the MoneyGram receipt
2.Sender’s name and address used in sending the money
3.Actual amount sent.
Please pay off the MoneyGram charges from the $1,300.00 USD added to your money.Kindly locate a Moneygram outlet close to your address..thanks
I reported all emails to Gmail as a phishing attempt and drafted this to publicize the attempt.