Red Alert!
  1. updates and fun stuff
  2. counterfeit cashier's check scam
  3. wire-transfer scam (link)
  4. telephone billing charges scam (link)
  5. "utility" Gmail (or hotmail) account: Curt's latest advisory: set up for yourself a permanent "utility" email account (details)

Latest report: 1 November 2008

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

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Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

regarding European (and other overseas) inquiries

It seems to be a routine request (of Europeans) that you email or fax a copy of your title and/or registration paperwork; they need this paperwork for two primary purposes: 1) to present to their equivalent of American/Canadian DMV, to make sure that your Cobra (or Daytona Coupe or GT40) can be registered in their country, and 2) to show to their insurance carrier to make certain it can be insured. So as far as I can determine, there's no reason for you to be suspicious of this request. To date it hasn't resulted in any red flags being hoisted.

So, you ask, what's the best way for you to digitize said paperwork to email to them? Here's what I recommend:

  1. You should scan (rather than photograph) the requested paperwork (to avoid distortion);
  2. Set your scanner at about 240 dpi (technically it's pixels-per-inch, not dpi), so that it prints out fully readable, and set your scanner for "grayscale" rather than color, so that your filesize is minimized. You want your prospective buyer to be able to print out a good copy on his end, while keeping the filesize as small as possible to ensure that it'll email without a hitch;
  3. Only the U.S. and Canada still adhere to "letter size" (8.5"x11") format; the international standard (ISO) today is the German standard size of 'A4,' which measures 210mmX297mm (i.e., 8.3"x11.7"), which means that your scan(s) should print out just fine on their end on A4 paper;
  4. Try to get a really ‘clean’ scan without a gray/dirty background, If your scan is really clean (i.e., clear black print on a clean white background, which is best), then save it as a grayscale 'gif' image; if (as is often the case) you wind up with a "cluttered" scan with a gray/muddy background, then save it as a high-quality (grayscale) JPEG. Alternatively you can save it in 'pdf' format.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Directly below is my “stock reply to Nigerian scambags," for you to copy/paste and use if you like. You'll learn (below) how to recognize a Nigerian scam routine; despite where the scambag claims to be located (typically France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy), the email none-the-less is most commonly sent from Nigeria:

*************************
Dear (Ralf):
  
I am delighted that you wish to purchase my Cobra! You will experience years of adrenaline rushes (not to speak of bullrushes), racing this drivin' machine through the jungles and rainforests and savannas and mud plains of your native country!
  
You will probably want to install some special equipment: big/knobby offroad tires (tyres) and mud flaps, a mosquito net (in place of the tonneau cover), and replace the sidepipes with pontoons. You can get all this stuff at Lagos Larry's Outback Outfitters and Dope Traffickers.
  
In the meantime, I have a proposal for you, since as someone seeking to purchase a 427 Cobra you must be yearning for visceral thrills and excitement: Do you have a crocodile-teeming river or lake in your vicinity? If so, here's a hot tip (between pals like you and me) for a cheap thrill: Go down to the water's edge, strip naked and plunge into the water and swim out as far as you can; then splash around for a few moments and let the fun and eviscerable excitement begin!
  
And Ralf, since we’re kindred spirits—almost bosom buddies—what’s your REAL name?
  
Very sincerely,
  
(signed)
*************************

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

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Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

SCAM#1: Counterfeit cashier's check ruse. Today (Monday, 21 April 2003) it was brought to our attention that there is a scam, currently operating out of Africa, whereby someone advertising for sale an automobile (or any other high-value item), is contacted by someone alleging that he's interested in the purchase of your motorcar, usually also alleging that he/she is located someplace in Europe, and that he's representing a potential buyer. This inquiry commonly attempts to arrange the purchase of the car with a cashier's check covering the price of the car and shipping.

Before your car (or other valuable item) has been shipped, you are perhaps requested to refund the shipping charges as part of a "finders' fee" arrangement. They may also send you a check larger than the purchase price and ask for a refund of the difference. This scenario sounds like it was hatched by the same folks who bring you the nefarious "I am Dr. Obutu Mugabe, Nigerian Minister of Commerce" scam.

And their emails are quite often composed in vision-blinding ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, another dead giveaway. Beware, beware, beware! You should heed the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

     U.S. citizens should also forward suspected scam email directly to:uce@ftc.gov.

     Canadians: contact The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Update: Tom Brokaw covered this Nigerian bunco game on NBC News on Tuesday, 13 May 2003; the news clip detailed a woman who had sold her car under the circumstances described above... and got scammed out of over $7,000. Beware.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Nigerian scam: report#18
27 September 2004

27 September 2004
Hi Curt,
FYI
The crooks are still out there! They didn't even get the car right: mine is the BRA!!!!
(see below)
Len


From: "olumide omolokun" <ronaldoharis@graffiti.net>
Date: 2004/09/27 Mon AM 07:02:23 EST
To: lenncurtis
Subject: car enquiry

27 September 2004


hello i am a business man i saw your advertisment and iam interrested in it i will like to purchase this products of yours 2003 Lone Star Classics LS427 Cobra which i do not know the price or the amount you are seelling it, and i will like you to tell me the price to the product bcos i am interested i buyingt it i am dealer and i deal with goods like the products will like to purchase from you i want your interest over this product if you will like to sell it to me


also i will like to know my method of payment bcos i will like to pay you with a cheque and also i want u to know that i will take care of the shippment by our personal shipping agent company that will take care of the shippment.soi will be looking forward to ur responds asap.


thanks
regards
olumide omolokun

Incidentally, that text from "olumide omolokun" is displayed here
just as Len received it.

Sigh. Just when you thought you'd encountered the very dumbest
of these crooks, "olumide omolokun" comes along and proves
you haven't located the bottom just yet...

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

scam attempts: example #s 12 thru 16
27 July 2004
These "offers" were received by one CobraCountry advertiser... ALL IN ONE DAY!
The text in the five "offers" is presented here precisely as it was received by the recipient:

          Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

On Tue, Jun 29, 2004, at 7:13 AM, "beckey saint" wrote:

Subject: [SPAM] 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra
From:"sweet tom" <sweet_tom@fastermail.com>
Date: Sat, July 24, 2004 5:15 pm
To: (CobraCountry advertiser)
Hello,
I learnt that you want to sell your .In the advert you made on net.i'm interested in buying it.I want you to give me your best offer of the car. Also don't worry about the shipping of car,i have a shipper that will come for the pick up of car in your place. Hope payment with certified or cashier cheque is okay by you.
expect quick response from you soon.
regards
Sweet-Tom.
****************************
Subject: [SPAM] 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra $ 4,190
From: "kelvin seaman" <kelvinseaman@keromail.com>
Date: Sat, July 24, 2004 5:38 pm
To: (CobraCountry advertiser)
TOP OF THE DAY TO YOU OVER THERE,WELL I AM MAILING YOU INRESPONSE TO YOUR ADVERTISED HORSE WHICH YOU POSTED FOR SALE FOR THE ABOVE PRICE AND IN WHICH A CLIENT OF MINE IS WILLING TO PURCHASE FROM YOU,I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE CURRENT CONDITION,LOCATION AND THE BOTTOM PRICE SO THAT WE COULD PROCEED ON THETRANSACTION.
THANKS
****************************
Subject: [SPAM] 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra
From: "sara lee" <sara_lee@outgun.com>
Date: Tue, July 27, 2004 2:06 am
To: (CobraCountry advertiser)
hello,
am intersted in buying your 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra can you please tell me the precent condition of it. and also the last price of it mind you am paying you by cashier check and i will cater for the shipping hoping to read from you as soon as possible.
thanks,
sara..
****************************
Subject: [SPAM] 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra
From: "mike flair" <mikeflair12@keromail.com>
Date: Sun, July 25, 2004 8:58 am
To: (CobraCountry advertiser)
Hello
Good day to you i came across your advert on net during my
search. and i will like to purchase (1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra ) and i will like to know your last offer price and the condition of it and if you can just get one of the picture scan to me i will be gratefull.
regards
****************************
Subject: [SPAM] 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra
From: "jerry good" <jerrygood@fastermail.com>
Date: Sun, July 25, 2004 9:16 am
To: (CobraCountry advertiser)
Hey,
It has been very nice knowing this web-site and truly foundout what exactly i have been looking for.I got the placement base on the advertisment of your (1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra) from this decent site and made a decision to get a contact with you and really found out about what your final Price. i will like to know the exact present health condition of your (1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra).As for the shipment i have a well organised shipper that will come for the picking-up of the (1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra)from your distination so shipment will not be of any problem...
Moreso if you do accept cashier's check for means of my payment do email asap!!!expecting your reply.Today.......
Regards
jerry...
****************************
Subject: [SPAM] interested in your advertised used 1965 Shelby 427 S/C
Cobra car
From: "morris williams" <morris_williams@mail.lawguru.com>
Date: Tue, July 27, 2004 8:44 am
To: (CobraCountry advertiser), "(1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra"@
Hello,
I will like to buy your advertised used car for a client who said he's interested in it.Pls let me know the exact cost and condition.My mode of payment will be by a certified cheque draWn from UK Bank and to let you know,we are located in W.africa
I hope to hear from you soon,
Thanks,Morris

...Like The Energizer Bunny, the scammers keep going and going and going...

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

scam: example #11
30 June 2004
This "offer" was received by a CobraCountry advertiser.
This text is presented here precisely as it was received by the recipient:

         Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

On Tue, Jun 29, 2004, at 7:13 AM, "beckey saint" wrote:

Hello,
I saw you ad on Superformance 427S/C Cobra while surfing round the web and i found intrest in it and wants to know if it is still available for sale,and also i will need a price comfirmation on it. Thanks in anticipation.
Best regards.
beckey saint

          Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2004 08:52:17 -0400; John replied:

Beckey,
Yes, it is still for sale. The price is $57,500 for the car and $62,000 for the car and trailer together. Here are some photos for you. Let me know if you have other questions.
Regards, John

          Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Date: Wed, June 30, 2004 5:37:23 AM EDT, "beckey saint" replied:
To: John xxxx
Subject: Re: your Superformance 427S/C Cobra

dear john,
thanks for the mail.i can see that the car is in good shape but i can only afford the car and not the tralier because the cost of the shipping would be to high so i would be sending you a excess amount of $61,500 so that you would cash the check and the money for the car and western the remaining so that i can arrange for the pick up.send me your details for the payment
saint.

          Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Date: Wed, 30Jun 2004, John wrote to me:

Mr. Scott (regarding the above correspondence),
Here's another one. This one is barely coherent. I wonder what "western the remaining" means. They don't even make an attempt to justify or explain why they are sending an "excess amount". Thanks for being on the alert. John

I sure hope that there's no one among our readers and website visitors
who would be sucked into believing that there is really an individual named "beckey saint" and that this semi-literate Cyber phantom (I'm being kind) is a genuine Cobra buyer.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

scam: example #10
26 June 2004
This "offer" was received by a CobraCountry advertiser; again,
note the trademark misspelled words and wretched punctuation.
This text is presented here precisely as it was received by the recipient:

Hello,
How are you doing today, I saw your Advert regarding the (Midstates 427SC Cobra ) you have forsale which i am very much intrested inpurchasing, So i will want you to try and get back to me with the Following Informations below which i think are Important before going ahead with the Transation :
1.. THE ASKING PRICE FOR THE SAID ITEM :........................
2.. THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE SAID ITEM:..........................
3.. THE PICTURES FOR THE SAID ITEM:........................................
So with this i want you to know that the Mode of Payment will a Cashier's Check that is drawn from an American Bank, Also i will carter for Shipping, So Shipping should not be of any problem. I will now appreciate if you get back to me asap with an Answers to the
Question i have asked and also if the Said Item is still for sale. I will now hope to hear from you soonest.
Thanks,
Williams Court

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

scam: example #9
18 June 2004
This "offer" was received by a KitCar advertiser; once again,
note the trademark misspelled words and wretched punctuation.
This text is presented here precisely as it was received by the recipient:

From: shawn mary <femaleautodealer@yahoo.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 18:08:14 +0100 (BST)
To: xxx@yahoo.com
Subject: purchase of your car

Good day,am Shawn Mary am america based in deira dubai(U.A.E),i am highly interested in this of your car,i will like to know if it still available and i want you to tell me his last offering and his presence condition,if it will be okay with me i will be making my payment via wire transfer if you do i want you to get back to me immediately for me to proceed with the payment.and as for shipping i will contact a shipping agent of mine who will arranged for the pick up as soon as the transaction is sealed ,and i will be looking forward to your response,you can send me the pics through my email

Trust me folks: these scams aren't perpetrated by Rhodes Scholars.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

scam: example #8
8 June 2004
This "offer" was received by one of CobraCountry's advertisers; once again,
note the trademark ALL CAPITAL LETTERS text, misspelled words and wretched punctuation.

HELLO,
MY NAME IS JONSON STAND AM INCHARGE TO GET THE CARS WE NEED FOR OUR FILM ALBUM, I WILL LIKE TO KNOW IF YOUR CAR IS STILL FOR SALE,I WANT YOU TO MAIL ME THE CONDITION,PRESENT LOCATION OF THE CAR AND THE LAST OFFER FOR IT,AND I WANT YOU TO GET BACK TO ME WITH THE FOLLOWING DETAILS SO THAT WE CAN MAKE THE PAYMENT BY A CERTIFIED CHEQUE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, YOUR FULL NAME, YOUR FULL RESIDENSIAL ADDRESS, YOUR PHONE NUMBERS AS WORK,HOME AND MOBILE. SO THAT WE CAN SEAL THIS TRANSACTION ON TIME WE NEED THIS THIS CARS FOR A FILM PROJECT IT'S URGENT GET BACK TO ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
REGARD'S, JONSON.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

scam: example #7
22 February 2004

A 289FIA Cobra owner forwarded me this scam email to alert me to this preposterous proposal; Although this letter of course doesn't qualify as a Nigerian cashier's check scam, just the same it's fraught with peril for anyone who replies and gets snared.

I provided the text corrections only to illustrate for you how these scam emails are almost invariably replete with almost whimsical grammar and spelling errors. AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THEY'RE TYPED IN (MAKES YA' GO BLIND) ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, LIKE THIS.

22 February 2004

Dear Friend,

As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday. My name is BATES ALAN (sic: Alan Bates?) a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E. I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. It has defiled (sic: defied?) all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts.

I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself) but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focused (sic: focused only) on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it.

Now that God has called me, I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as a few close friends. I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul so, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore.

I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria and Pakistan, (sic: punctuation) they refused and kept the money to themselves. Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them. The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of eighteen million dollars $18,000,000,00 that I have with a finance/Security Company abroad.

I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched (sic: dispatch) it to charity organizations. I have set aside 10% for you and for your time.


God be with you. BATES ALAN

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Nigerian scam: example #6
13 February 2004

I received this email from one of our 'For Sale by Owner' advertisers:

"I've had five individuals email me committing to buy my car. All five "buyers" are purchasing for a client of some sort. The first from the Netherlands (English was obviously not his first language) and the second from Scotland both rapidly asked for my bank routing number and account number and neither one would answer the question "What city are you from?"; the third is from Scotland but misspelled the name of his own country... TWICE.

The fourth from France and the fifth from the Netherlands but who actually gave an address but no phone number--but he went through the scenario of "I'll send you a cashier's check for $7K more than you are asking and you need to wire me back the difference." (name withheld by request)

How do you spell  N-I-G-E-R-I-A-N  S-C-A-M?

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Nigerian scam: example #5
12 February 2004
One of our Cobras For Sale advertisers received this series of scam emails.
Note the telltale misspellings, poor punctuation and wretched grammar.
These Nigerian scammers ain't rocket scientists, folks.

From: <jan@xxxxmuseum.no>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 08:39:48 +0100
Subject: Re: Wccobra

We are looking for a wccobra registered with sixties title, pls confirm with detailed specs and photos.
****************************
From: <jan@xxxxmuseum.no>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 08:49:53 +0100
Subject: Re: Wccobra
-hello,

Thanks- the car may be of interest .

We are evaluating a few nice wccobra for import to norway. Please forward your best price based on a a c.o.d transaction.

Please also fax over copies of title and registration documents and a statement of the condition of the car(especcially engine/drivetrain) from owner or a third party inspector.

Sincerely
****************************
From: <jan@xxxxmuseum.no>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 18:39:53 +0100
Subject: Re: Wccobra
our fax no: +47 700 41 245
On 11-02-04 08:49, "xxxxmuseum" <jan@xxxxmuseum.no> wrote:

-hello,

Thanks- the car may be of interest. We are evaluating a few nice wccobra for import to norway. Please forward your best price based on a a c.o.d transaction.

Please also fax over copies of title and registration documents and a statement of the condition of the car(especcially engine/drivetrain) from owner or a third party inspector.

Sincerely
****************************

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Nigerian scam: example #4
11 February 2004
(this scam missive was forwarded to us by one of our Cobra For Sale advertisers.
Note the telltale use of ALL CAPITAL LETTERS (MAKES YA' GO BLIND) TEXT.
The phone number in the message turned out to be phony.

11 FEBRUARY 2004

Subject: YOUR COBRA ADVERTISED


DEAR SIR,


I HAVE SEEN YOUR INFORMATIONS ON THIS COBRA ,AS A MATTER OF URGENCY AND FEAR OF LOOSING THE COBRA FOR LONG AD, DIFFICULTIES AND LONG PROCESS INVOLVE IN SENDING OUT MONEY FROM HERE,I DECIDED TO PACKAGE THE AMOUNT ADVERTISED FOR THE PRICE AT COBRA SALES , IN A BRIEF CASE FOR YOU .TO UNLOCK USE 232300,


HOWEVER, THE LUGUAGE HAS BEEN HANDED OVER TO PETER GODWIN A NIGERIAN AIRWAYS STAFF ,I HAD THE INFORMATION ABOUT HIS TRAVELLING TO MADRID SPAIN BUT HE HAS NO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE CONTENT($) OF THE LUGUAGE, I COULD NOT DISCLOSE FOR SECURITY REASONS.I TOLD HIM TO FIND MEANS FOR THE DELIVERING OF THE LUGUAGE TO YOU.EMAIL HIM TO KNOW HIS ARRIVAL AND HOW YOU CAN CLAIM THE LUGUAGE FROM HIM TODAY.AS SOON AS YOU CLAIM THE LUGUAGE FROM HIM .REPLY TO CONFIRM TO ME IMMEDIATELY.IT IS ADVISABLE YOU SEND HIM YOUR CONTACT ADDRESS.THIS IS HIS EMAIL ADDRESS. peterxxxxx@post.cz


IF YOU WANT TO SPEAK TO ME ,YOU CAN CALL ME WITH THIS NUMBER 234-23515927.MY SHIPING AGENT WILL COME AND FINALISE ALL THE NECESSARY DCUMENT WITH YOU AND TAKE POSSESION OF THE COBRA NEXT WEEK.


REGARDS,
ENG RAYMOND XXXXX.
RAY&SONS AUTO-PARTS
35 APAPA EXPRESS RD
LAGOS NIGERIA.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Nigerian scam: example #3
2 February 2004

February 2004: We received a series of telephone calls from one Lawrence Striedel of Maryland; he had his car advertised on the Internet (not on one of our sites); he was contacted by someone who readily agreed to meet his price, and asked for his bank account number so he could "wire the funds" to his account. Fortunately someone advised Mr. Striedel to contact us regarding such a transaction; we advised him to waste no time and get to his bank and stop all actions on his checking account. Good advice: the scammer had deposited a huge amount of money into his account... with a bogus check... and intended to withdraw cash based upon that deposit. Striedel's timely dash to the bank thwarted this scam maneuver.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Nigerian scam: example #2
11 November 2003

24 November 2003: One of our advertisers forwarded us this "response" to his ad for his Cobra; note the trademark use of ALL-UPPERCASE-LETTERS/RENDER-YOU-BLIND text, and the grammar & punctuation errors and rampant misspellings... all trademarks of these single-digit-IQ scam artists. And notice his "bait" mention of sending you a cashier's check: most folks consider cashier's checks to be as good as cash. Sigh: that's correct: a counterfeit cashier's check is precisely as valuable to you as counterfeit currency. Seller beware, folks!

HELLO,
MY NAME IS RECHEAL MORGAN.AN INTERNATIONAL BUISNESS ASSOCIATION.I BUY ALL KIND OF GOODS FOR MY CLIENT WHO COMES FROM DIFFERENT PART OF THE WORLD AND I ALSO TRAVEL ALL OVER THE WORLD TO BUY GOODS AND I BUY ALL KIND OF GOODS FOR MY CLIENT WHO COMES FROM DIFFERENT PART OF THE WORLD AND ALSO BUY FOR MYSELF BECAUSE I HAVE COMPANY'S IN SOME FOREIGN COUNTRYS THAT I SHIP MY GOODS TO SO I AM INTERESTED IN BUYING YOUR 2002 B&B 427S/C Cobra.IF YOU ARE SELLING KINDLY GET BACK TO ME WITH THE PRICE AND PICTURE IF AVAILABLE,PAYMENT.DO YOU ACCEPT CERTIFIED CASHIERS CHECK,SHIPPING,DON'T WORRY ABOUT SHIPPING BECAUSE I HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING AGENT THAT SHIP FOR ME.
REGARDS
RECHEAL....

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Nigerian scam: example #1
3 December 2003

3 December 2003

Thanks, Cobra Country, for your 'Red Alert' about the Nigerian cashier's-check Internet scam!

A (no doubt Nigerian) scammer emailed me twice and tried to "buy" my Cobra (and, as you alerted, USING ALL CAPITALS TEXT AND MANY MISSPELLED WORDS).

Your Red Alert rescued me from becoming another victim. Thanks again!

Mark Jackson
Harleysville, Pennsylvania, USA

Return me to the top of this page.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

SCAM#2: wire-transfer ruse
23 September 2004

23 September 2004

Hi Curt:

First off I want to thank you for your "red alert" article.

Second I would like to submit a variation (i.e., wire transfer) of the scam that I recently experienced: the originator of this scam was similar in many respects with the exception of using lowercase letters.

As you recommended, I set up a "temporary/ transfer account" specifically for the transfer--just in case this might be a variant scam tactic. According to my banker this will ensure that the funds are in fact safe.*

Sure enough, a short time later my banker called and advised me that they had received a suspicious check that turned out to be a forgery (or counterfeit). The scammer attempted to make it appear as if the funds had been wire transferred.

Thanks again for the "heads up"!

Sincerely,
Dale Oines
Fairbanks, Alaska

*[Editor's note: just be careful to NOT set up that temporary /wire-transfer account to include any sort of overdraft coverage... we heard of one instance where said account was set up inadvertently with $3,000 of OD coverage... all $3,000 of which was promptly cleaned out by a wire-transfer fraudster; of course, the bank refused to cover his loss.]

And here's another tip on wire transfers from Cobra seller Larry Keyes... coincidentally also from Alaska:

WIRE TRANSFER SHORTCUT: PUPID

It's not necessary for you to open a new account for the purpose of ensuring yourself a secure wire transfer of the sale proceeds. My bank (and no doubt others) offers a wire-transfer service called a PUPID (an acronym for "Payment Upon Proper IDentification"). The buyer wires his funds to the seller’s bank, which then transfers the money to the seller upon the seller's presentation of proper identification. PUPID works just like any other wire transfer except that the seller’s individual account information is never revealed, only the particulars of the seller’s bank (name of the bank, branch name & address, bank routing number) and the name of the beneficiary of the PUPID wire transfer, namely the seller. I figured this tip might be of value to your sellers on CobraCountry and KitCar. Larry Keyes

Return me to the top of this page.

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

SCAM#3: telephone billing
charges ruse
6 June 2006

Subject:phone charge ripoffs from
telephone area codes
809,
284 and 876

Permutation #1: Internet Based Phone Scam Via Email
You receive an email, typically with a subject line of "*ALERT*" or "Unpaid account." The message, which is being spammed across the Net, says: "I am writing to give you a final 24 hrs to settle your outstanding account. If I have not received the settlement in full, I will commence legal proceedings without further delay. If you would like to discuss this matter to avoid court action, call Mike Murray at Global Communications at +1 809 496 2700."

Permutation #2: Phone or Pager Scam
You receive a message on your answering machine or your pager which asks you to call a number beginning with area code 809. The reason you're asked to call varies: it can be to receive information about a family member who has been ill, to tell you someone has been arrested or died, to let you know you have won a wonderful prize--or perhaps that they're interested in something you have for sale on the Internet--etc. In each instance, you're advised to phone the 809 number right away.

Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls. If you call from the U.S., you will be charged perhaps $25 per-minute! Sometimes the person who answers the phone will speak broken English and pretend to not understand you. Other times, you'll just get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often have been charged more than $100.

Here's why it works: The 809 area code is located in the Caribbean (specifically, the Bahamas, aka the British Virgin Islands). The 809 area code can be used as a "pay-per-call" number, similar to 900 numbers in the US. Since 809 is not in the U.S., it is not covered by U.S. regulations of 900 numbers, which require that you be notified and warned of charges and rates involved when you call a "pay-per-call" number.

There is also no requirement that the company provide a time period during which you may terminate the call without being charged. Further, whereas many US phones have 900 number blocking (to avoid these kinds of charges), 900 number blocking will not prevent calls to the 809 area code.
We recommend that no matter how you get the message, if you are asked to call a number with an 809 area code that you don't recognize, investigate further and/or disregard the message. Be *very* wary of email or calls asking you to call an 809 area code number.

It's critical for you to avoid becoming a victim of this scam, since attempting to contest the charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That's because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not get involved and will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company that argues it has done nothing wrong.

All the information above came from the Audri and Jim Lanford's splendid ScamBusters website. The following links take you directly to more information about this wretched Internet scourge from the Bahamas:

One final commentary: it would be simple enough for the government of the Bahamas to pass legislation to end this scam, and to put these criminals behind bars for the fraud they are already perpetrating. But you have a method to fight back: spend your vacation dollars anywhere but in the Bahamas, refuse to purchase any products produced in the Bahamas, and let the Bahamian government know of your actions. It's as simple as that!

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Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

4: "utility" Gmail account
9 June 2006

I urge you, if you ever advertise anything (anywhere!) on the Internet, to set up for yourself a free/no-cost "utility" email address, that you'll use and check only when you're advertising something on the Internet. That way you're not displaying your "real" email address for all the SPAMsters and SCAMsters and Nigerian predators to siphon up and annoy you with, and you can use your "utility email address" only when you want to; all the email that comes in to that account when you're not checking it will of course be periodically pitched into Gmail's Cyber trash can.

Of course you don't need to use a Google Gmail specifically (you could spring for "hotmail" just as well)... but Gmail is as good a choice as any for your "utility email account."

And Gmail provides you an extra level of Internet security (be prepared for some techno-speak): Gmail uses SSL (secure socket layer) encryption to shield your password; alternatively, you can log in to your Gmail account via a secure HTTPS page at https://mail.google.com. If this techno-babble is confusing to you, don' worry 'bout it: just be delighted that Gmail takes special measures to protect your privacy and your password security.

Just go to Google's Gmail.com and set up your own account (takes about 3 minutes to set up your own Gmail account) and create some appropriate address, such as "427stud@Gmail.com" or "Bondo4Prez@Gmail.com," etc., and make absolutely certain you save your special "Gmail handle" (along with your Gmail password, and other personal account information) in several logical places, so that it's not lost/forgotten it when you need to use it.

When you send your ad to us, we'll do a test-run of your "Gmail handle" and make sure it's performing properly for you.

Once more: set up for yourself a Gmail
email address. It'll be time well spent,
for now and into the future.

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Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam

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Cobra Country's consumer alert--counterfeit cashiers check scam