At Daily Info, we work hard behind the scenes to ensure that many fraudsters are detected and filtered out before they reach our users. Many internet scams, however, involve simple old-fashioned confidence tricks rather than technological wizardry. The key to avoiding these is to remain on your guard - and well informed. Read on...
The vast majority of ads and ad respondents on this site – and other sites – are genuine, but there will always be people trying to take advantage of your assumptions. The things that raise suspicion in traditional print and broadcast media (and indeed, life in general) should be viewed with the same scepticism when encountered online. Most particularly:
- Beware of anything that involves transferring money in advance, or accepting an amount of money which is far larger than the sum you are selling your item for (under the arrangement that you then forward the 'change' to another, or the original, party).
- Beware of anyone requesting money via Western Union (the scammers' transfer method of choice).
- Many scams, at the time of writing, seem to originate from Nigeria. IP addresses in an email's headers can sometimes help you determine its origin.
- Curly brackets around the name of the item you are trying to sell are another warning sign.
- Seeking work? Beware Pyramid Selling Scams offering home-based 'work' consisting of recruiting others to the scheme and demanding an upfront payment.
- If you have replied to an email which later turns out to be a scam, run a virus check on your computer. Sometimes scam emails also send you Worms, which can then send out more spam to other people from your computer. (We're told this is very rare, but a virus check is never a bad thing.)
Common Scam Types & Current Scammers
New in Jan 2013: The "Sell it on Ebay for me" scam
In which the scammer asks you to help them sell their stuff on Ebay. They provide pictures and details of the items and you list the items in your name. They suggest you get the money from the sale directly from Ebay, and pass it on to them minus your commission. Thus you feel safe.
However... during the auction they contact the bidders (pretending to be you) and offer to sell to them directly outside of Ebay, as it'll be cheaper that way. They get the money, and you get the flak from the bidders when no item turns up.
OR the auction runs as usual, but the scammer doesn't send the item to the buyer. You become the subject of Ebay and Paypal disputes and while the seller takes the money you've paid to them and disappears. We suggest not transferring the money onto the seller until the buyer has received the product - that way you can refund the buyer if the item doesn'st appear, without being out of pocket yourself.
Things to watch out for include the word "ebay" spelt oddly or with odd punctuation in it. And the standard provisos: if something sounds like an easy way to make money, it may be too good to be true. Watch out for odd English, but having said that there are a lot of genuine, nice people in Oxford whose first language isn't English. In short, if you're worried by something please contact us - we may be able to reassure you about an advertiser, and if it is a scam we want to block that advertiser.
New in Oct 2011 Mr/Mrs Duffy, Mr/Mrs Watson, Mr/Mrs Sanchez and Mr/Mrs Brenard
This is very like the Mark Bennett scam: they apparently have property to let in Oxford (mainly One Bedroom Flats in Jericho) and the poor things have been badly let down by previous tenants... So they'd just like you to prove you have the funds for the deposit by transferring them to yourself by Western Union . BEWARE - their English is getting much better. They have tried both replying to other people's ads, and placing ads of their own. We're on it, but if you get a reply which makes you suspicious do let us know ! Their standard email looks something like this:
Thanks for the reply and the sincere interest you have in my flat. My flat is fully furnished and also has garden with is parking space in my flat and very close to transport link supermarkets and amenities.
However it is unfortunate that my past bitter experience of inviting people to come and view or reserve my flat without any form of confirmation of their financial ability and not keeping up to time as at when scheduled,this has brought about great loss to me. I have traveled all the way from Ireland to take some interested candidates round my flat because that's where i work with (P. Elliott & Company)
Some tenants do not have the money to pay the rent and yet they disturb the landlord to arrange a viewing with their friend or relative who are in city so some do not meet up with the appointments.
Henceforth i have decided to conduct a simple test on financial ability to pay for my rent before coming for viewing. At least one month rent and security deposit which is £ 400 which is refundable after your stay in my flat, would be required from you to transfer through western union transfer agent, You will make the transfer with your name as a sender and someone close to you as a receiver (Partner/Friend).
Once you have done this, Scan the receipt to me so that i can verify if it's truly genuine and available in your custody, after verification, then we can Schedule convenient day for the viewing and you can as well tell your Receiver to pick up the money and also, i will refund back to you the cost of transfer when we meet.
I look forward to reading from you.
This is not a new scam type, but markbennett or mark.bennett, with varying numbers after his name, and various yahoo.com, yahoo.de and other email addresses is the latest incarnation of the scam offering property to let all over Oxford. He replies to people who are looking for accommodation. The pictures are pretty, but he wants a scan of your passport, and for you to send the deposit to yourself by Western Union. The English gets better! But look out for postcodes like "OX3 1" and "center" spelt the American way. There's more of his correspondence on scamwarners.com.
Mark Bennett is obviously a popular name for scams, since he also appears in some I am Capt Mark Bennett of the US Army in Afghanistan and I want to liberate $5,000,000 urgently with your help type emails.
New for 2010! The ad has a cuddly little kitten or puppy for adoption. How could that possibly be a scam? Well, unfortunately it sometimes is. If you are asked to pay money in advance for shipping the animal, or told at any stage that it is abroad, be very suspicious. Recently there have been not only kittens and puppies, but also a parrot and a three-month old child on offer! I can only assume the latter lost something in translation.
If the photo is very sweet but features no people and looks very professional the likelihood is that it has been taken from Google images. Look out also for people who don't want you to see the animal. If they can give you a landline that is a good sign, but of course not all mobile numbers signal a scam! As with everything, keep your wits about you and if you are suspicious do let us know. We may be able to give you more information about the advert. All these cheeky chappies have been offered, scammily, for sale recently:
Demanding a deposit before you can view the property
A scam that turned up in early 2008 involves the landlord asking for a deposit before even allowing the prospective tenant to view the property. The property turns out to be non-existent, and the "landlord" vanishes. However desperate you may be for a space in Oxford's cut-throat housing market, transferring money before you've seen the property is never a good idea: if the landlord insists on it, there's something wrong, even if it's not a scam.
Asking you to "prove you have the funds", using Western Union money transfer
Another recent arrival is a scam in which people looking for a new flat are asked to send money to themselves by Western Union Money Transfer and then give the receipt to a prospective landlord, in order to prove they have enough money for rent and deposit on a new property. This is not standard practice in house-letting and we strongly advise people not to do it! Once the scammer gets the MTCN (Money Transfer Control Number) from the receipt they've effectively got control over your money.
Mystery Shopping - the overpayment scam
New scam: An advert is placed offering an attractive payment (often for Mystery Shopping). When you respond, the scammers propose to send a much larger amount then the payment due and ask you to refund the difference. This is a variation on a familiar scam. Be careful: it is not necessarily simply a matter of waiting for the cheque to clear; a cheque can still be rejected by the bank up to 6 months after this, if found to be invalid, leaving you out of pocket.
Driver needed - overpayment scam
An advert is placed asking for a driver, for example for someone on holiday who has hurt their leg. When you respond, the scammers propose to send a much larger amount then the payment due and ask you to forward the rest to their travel agent. See Mystery Shopping above.
The Job Scam
Familiar to many from the random spam emails clogging up your inbox, these often involve a foreign company eagerly inviting you to help them avoid local taxation by being their "UK representative". Your delightfully easy "job" will involve taking "client payments" into your bank account and forwarding them on to the scammer, after taking your commission at an attractive percentage. Once they have your money transfer number - and all your personal details, for after all, they are now your employer, and can demand your details "for their paperwork" - it's very easy for them to get control of your identity. Not to mention that the "client payments" turn out to be fairy gold and are rejected after you've sent the scammer "the difference".
Typical scam emails
Here are a few typical scam emails - and a full recent email exchange with a scammer.
(Scammers can often be identified by their incorrect/unusual use of English - however, the level does seem to be improving):
"i have found your [item]" / "last price" - overpayment scam
Model (or children's charity worker) looking for room - overpayment scam
I NEED A ROOM URGENTLY
Hello, Am jessicabrown from u.s.a,26years of age i school in holland likewise a modeling, coming to model in u.k and i will like to be your roommate. i like you to please give me the detail of your room,and the amount per three month my terms of payment will be by cashier bankers cheque,or u.k bank draft Your quick response will be highly appreciated you contcat me on this email address firstname.lastname@example.org Hope to hear from you soon, Best Regards,
"Prove you have funds before I will show you the property" / "Transfer funds to yourself by Western Union" scam
I won't get any money from you now. the reason why am doing This is because I have been fooled several times and i don't want that to happen to me any more. because i have to come down to BATH for the viewing, So before i can come down for the viewing I will need you to show me a prove of your ability to rent my property Cause I'm right live in another city by now and I'm relocated there with my family cos i was transfer to another cty from my company and for me to believe that you are honest as you said i will need to get a prove from you and i want a prove that i can make a confirmation on it before i come bath for the viewing.
You will go to the nearest MONEY GRAM TRANSFER office around you or out let Deposit the sum of 550 pounds in your partners or relative name. this will be between you and your partner not my name also with a month rent and security deposit fee. So all I need to see is the only the senders name or the receivers name on the receipt you are giving from the MONEY GRAM office what i need to do with the senders name is to call the money gram office and give them the senders to confirm if the money you deposit is there. i will get back to you in 20minte time after i make the confirmation then you can go back and pick your money back. then i will know you are really capable to get my property. will can arrange a viewing. after the viewing and you like it we can now reach an agreement on how to move into the property. and don't worry about the money gram transfer charges i will be refunded back to you in cash wen you are here for viewing. If you don't understand, Here is an examples of how to do it.
A month rent and security deposition fee
SENDERS NAME....................YOUR NAME
RECEIVER' NAME...................YOUR PARTNER OR RELATIVE NAME
ADDRESS......CURRENT ADDRESS WHERE YOU LIVE NOW
AMOUNT SENT.....................450 + 550 POUNDS.
Don't forget that i tell you the Security deposition is going to be refundable also remember i will refund the money gram transaction charges to you when we meet for the viewing and also don't forget that what i am asking you to do is still within you and your recipient.
The Job Scam - watch out for any wonderful yet dodgy-sounding work-from-home scheme (often they involve pyramid selling even if they're not going to scam you directly), but particularly for anything involving - you guessed it, money transfers. Like this one:
Williams Grant & son holding Ltd Group in conjunction with recruit Express, Company under the ownership of Mr. Williams Grant President/CEO.Williams Grant & SONS HOLDINGS is a trading company that is into the hire,sales and service of Electrical Trucks, Fork Trucks and associated materials handling equipments and diverse range of battery for electric vehicles which can be readily adapted for customers specific requirements to the America and selected locations in Europe. seeks payment managers to our direct payments from customers in the UK, USA,CANADA other EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, AUSTRALIA and U.A.E .
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO FOR US?
The international money transfer tax for legal entities (companies) in UK is 25%, whereas for the individual it is only 7%.There is no sense for us to work this way, while tax for international money transfer made by a private individual is 7% .That's why we need you! We need agents to receive payment for our textiles (in money orders,check or bank wiretransfers) and to resend the money to us via Money Gram or WesternUnion Money Transfer. This way we will save money because of tax decreasing.
1. Receive payment from Clients
(this, of course, is where they get you - the enormous "client payment" is cancelled and you end up paying "the balance" out of your own pocket, or at best, that of your bank. Not to mention identity/bank account theft once they have all your details.)
HOW MUCH WILL YOU EARN?
10% from each operation! For instance: you receive $7000 via checks or money orders on our behalf. You will cash the money and keep $700 (10% from $7000) for yourself! At the beginning your commission will equal 10%, though later it will increase up to 12%!
You do not have to go out as you will work as an independent contractor right from your home office. Your job is absolutely legal. You can earn up to $3000-$4000 monthly depending on time you will spend for this job.You do not need any capital to start. You can do the Work easily without leaving or affecting your present Job. The employees who make efforts and work hard have a strong possibility to become managers. Anyway our employees never leave us due to our excellent work condition.
This position does not require any educational qualification but a bachelors degree or very good high school record will be an added advantage, no experience is needed but should be able to speak his/her language fluently as well as understand an extra language will be an added advantage. The individual should be highly motivated, sensitive, been a meticulous person is an added advantage.
NOTE: This Job is a part- time Job and has been designed in such a way that it does not affect your regular daily work.Application deadline/expiry: six weeks after the broadcast of this message.Salary Range: Weekly: 500.00USD. (Fixed)$2,000:00-Monthly Plus 10% of every payments received excluding any Taxes or Cheque/check clearing fees.You should notify your referring agent if you want your salary range to be weekly or monthly.
A full email exchange
Following on from the scams above, the English has recently improved a lot, and the scammer works round to the suggestion of Western Union more slowly...
- The scammer places an advert, reading something like: Magnificient 2 bedroom Flat Headington £800 Email Me
- When contacted by email, he says: "The apartment is still vacant. I have just moved to HULL to work with an Energy Firm.The Apartment Located on [real address and postcode in Headington given] is a fully furnished... [a list of features follows]
Viewing is not a problem but i'll like to know what your intentions are. Tell me a bit about yourself as im willing to rent the flat to you but i'd like to know if you are capable to fund the rent before coming over to sort the viewing."
Photos of an impeccable flat are included.
- The person looking for a flat suggests sending copies of bank statements, or getting a reference from their employer to prove they have funds.
- The next email is padding really, as the scammer tries to encourage interest, while waiting to suggest the money transfer:
"Good to read from you again and thanks for expressing your genuine interest in renting my flat. You seem to 've a good personality and I am sure you'll be a great tenant.I'd have actually love to keep it vacant but a friend advised i get some one who can take good care of it.I hope i can rely on you in taking good care of my apartment like your own.
However as i said before viewing will not be a problem,anytime during the week in the evening would be a good date/timing for our meeting.But i need a proof you have the funds on you before i can commit to viewing as i have been disappointed several times after scheduling viewings in the past few days.My job had suffered alot due to the back and forth in travelling from Hull to Oxford and i have also wasted funds coming over to Oxford before thats why im a little bit strict with my condition.
As it is not a wise decision to send your bank statements via the internet that would have been a better option. So may be you want to suggest how else you can prove to me you have the funds on you right now so we can go on to meet for viewing if that is okay by you."
- The flat-seeker begins to get impatient. He is interested, but he'd really like to view the property. Again he suggests references from his employer or bank
- But the scammer has a suggestion of his own:
"After speaking to my lawyer about it he gave an advise and i think that is the best option for us.So what i will like you to do is that you should go to any UK post office outlet close to you and request for a money gram Transaction Form.Send the first month rent and the refundable deposit in your name to your partner's name in your present address or your partner to send the money to you in your present address.
Scan and send the transfer receipt via email for confirmation to see if the money is available for any of you to pick up.After the apartment is viewed and you seems to like what you saw,we will both go and pick up the money together then you pay me up after signing the lease and contract. Whatever cost incurred would be returned back to you at the meeting even if you don't like the flat which i'm sure you would.You will not be loosing anything after all.If you can get the=2 0money gram done tomorrow or next then we can meet for viewing on Wednesday or Thursday evening from 6pm.
Apparently,its a very safe means because only the person with an ID will have access to the funds and that will either be yourself or your partner.Once you get that done,get back to me with the confirmation of receipt so we could go ahead and arrange for viewing."
At this point the person looking for accommodation smelt a rat and informed us what had happened. We can block particular advertisers, but it is so easy for scammers to change their email addresses that despite our constant vigilance it's very difficult to keep them off the site! Do inform us if you think you've met a scam.
The wording is still slightly odd in places but the level of English has improved dramatically since the early scams. The particular dialogue above seemed to be flavour of the month in April 2009. Beware!
The safest course seems to be to avoid using Money Transfer companies such as Western Union except if you're sending money to someone you actually know and trust.
Here are some sites that describe typical scamming techniques:
- Safe From Scams – A detailed and continually updated list of scams to watch out for.
- Scambusters – ‘Help protect yourself from clever scams, online and offline’
- Scambuster419 – a rare insight into the desperate persistence of scammers...
- The African Car Buyer Scam - a comprehensive description of a common scam, by no means restricted to cars, but targeted at people selling all kinds of goods.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau - a good resource of common scams.
Once you know scammers exist, it is usually a simple matter to distinguish them from genuine respondents to your advert.
If someone tries to buy your item or pay a rent deposit in advance, try to make sure that you speak to them first, in person or by phone. A scammer will try to avoid actual contact. And never, ever cash a cheque that is for more money than you've asked for - your bank will not necessarily protect you.
Masking your email address (follow the instructions when you submit your ad) should cut out the automated scam programs, and cut down, at least, on responses from human scammers. Good luck!
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