How to do protect yourself from Russian scams, auto scams, and eBay scams: Internet ScamBusters #69
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © 2003 Audri and Jim Lanford.
All rights reserved.
Today we have some more Internet ScamBusters Snippets for you. This issue is short since we know that the holidays are fast approaching, and everyone is busy.
First we'll start off with the answer to the single biggest question we get asked right now. We think you'll get a chuckle out of the second snippet, and then we'll show you another very recent eBay scam. Finally, we share three excellent consumer protection resources.
We appreciate your support.
OK, let's get going...
Internet ScamBusters Snippets
The Single Biggest Question We Are Being Asked Right Now
Whether we're on the radio doing an interview or in our office, there is one question that is comeing up more than any other. It is:
"I'm selling (or buying) a car online, and I just got an international offer, but I'm not sure if it's legitimate."
The answer is simple: no, it's not legitimate.
We know of NO legitimate international car offers -- regardless of whether you're buying or selling a car. But there are hundreds of people who have been scammed.
There are lots of variants, many of which include counterfeit bank checks and money orders.
This scam is not limited to cars. It is used with other vehicles, such as trucks and motorcycles.
Action: Don't sell or buy a car internationally online.
The runner-up for the most common question is also about buying and selling cars. Usually, these scammers are located somewhere in the US.
They want to use a specific escrow company (and they have a long sob story about why this escrow company is the one to use). This too is a scam.
Action: Be very careful, and use the escrow company of your choice, not theirs.
Don't get taken.
Russian Email Scam
There are a lot of Russian email scams going around right now. Here is the one we found the funniest (if you can call any scams funny...). We've purposely left in the misspellings and bad grammar.
Subject: CATASTROPHE!! MOSCOW HAS BEEN ANNIHILATED BY THE NUCLEAR DEVIC
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 20:08:21 +0000
We are a web designers/programmers team. We locate at Moscow, Russian Federation. Currently, our team works for several US companies and we feel difficulties in getting our wages. They're to pay us but they don't send money directly to Russia, because companies we work for pays us by direct deposits available in USA and Canada only. Reasonable question: why don't they pay you by checks? Yes, they could, but here in Moscow is really hard to collect on the american checks (enormous commission fees and it takes 2-3 months). We realize that you can't provide your current bank account. So, if you are ready to help, would you be so kind to open a new zero-balanced checking account where they could send funds. After, the following details would much appreciated:
1. Bank name
2. Bank address
3. Account owner
4. Account number
5. Bank routing number (usually in Fedwire system)
So, when our employers are getting the information they will initiate the transfer. When the bank transfers are completed your assistance is needed once again to transfer the money via Western Union or MoneyGram (it is not the best (profitable) way but it's the fastest one).
Finally, we have to solve the problem regarding your interest in this deal. We suppose you should get an interest in this business and we can offer you a good compensation for your help. The sum is variable but usualy no less than 2000 a week (approx.). Any suggestions?
Thanks much in advance
Obviously, this is a scam. Never send bank information, even for a zero-balance checking account, to anyone. And, as always, simply delete this kind of email.
Another eBay Scam Making the Rounds
We got this one last Friday. It looks somewhat legitimate, other than the spelling error in the Subject and the awkward grammar.
Subject: eBay Billing Information Uptaded
Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2003 22:05:43 +0900
Dear eBay Member,
We at eBay are sorry to inform you that we are having problems with the billing information of your account. We would appreciate it if you would visit our website eBay Billing Center and fill out the proper information that we are needing to keep you as an eBay member.
If you think you have received this email as an error, please visit our website and fill out the necessary information. That way we can make sure that everything is up to date! Again here is the link to our website. eBay Billing Center
Thank you Accounts Management
If you receive an email like this, do NOT click on the link and visit the site, or you'll be going to a scammer's site. eBay does not send emails like this.
If you do not know whether an email you receive is legitimate, go directly to the eBay site and contact customer service from there. Never follow the instructions of an email like this.
And don't panic.
Three Excellent Online Resources
1. Excellent consumer protection information on disputing credit card charges:
2. The American Bar Association's guide to safe shopping:
3. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guide to eCommerce and the Internet:
We wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.