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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 494 - March 03, 2003 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

Nigerian Fraud Scheme Hits eBayers

By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com
March 03, 2003




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Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher warned of a suspected Nigerian-based money scheme involving the use of counterfeit U.S. bank cashier's checks to buy merchandise from consumers selling goods on the Internet. Many of the perpetrator's checks initially clear, making sellers feel more confident in completing transactions.

Two victims from Southeastern Pennsylvania reported losses of $9,800 and $12,500. A third victim from Centre County said she lost $4,200, and a fourth Pennsylvania resident from Bucks County was contacted by one of the suspects, however, the phony check did not clear.

"This particular money scheme is extremely dangerous because consumers consider cashier's checks to be the same as cash and would have no reason to doubt the check's authenticity," Fisher said. "Even worse, these counterfeit checks are impressive replicas that are difficult to spot, even by the banks that are clearing and cashing the checks."

According to investigators, the con artists target individuals selling merchandise over the Internet, specifically large-ticket items such as collector cars, motorcycles and boats. The buyer, who is from Africa, emails the seller to express an interest in the item and states that the method of payment will be a U.S. bank cashier's check.

At the last minute, the buyer makes an excuse for sending a cashier's check that is several thousand dollars more than the price of the item being purchased. The buyer asks the consumer to wire back the difference between the check and the purchase price after the check clears. Once the consumer's bank cashes the check, the consumer then wires the balance to the buyer in Africa. Typically within seven to 21 days, the consumer learns from his or her bank that the check was counterfeit and that they must return the full amount to the bank.

Fisher urges consumers to be extremely skeptical of any emails from Nigeria or Africa offering to purchase items online with a U.S. bank cashier's check. Online sellers are also urged to avoid contact with individuals asking you to send or wire money abroad. Victims of the cashier's check scam are asked to immediately contact the U.S. Secret Service at (202) 406-5850 or write to: U.S. Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division, 950 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20223. Complaints can also be filed electronically by visiting

http://www.secretservice.gov/contact_fcd.shtml.

You can also get more information about Internet fraud at AuctionBytes Fraud Resource Page.

http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/pages/fraud

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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