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
Subject: CATASTROPHE!! MOSCOW HAS BEEN ANNIHILATED BY THE
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
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
As outlined in our User Agreement, eBay will periodically send you
information about site changes and enhancements. Visit our Privacy
Policy and User Agreement if you have any questions.
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
We wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.