Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's a scam

I often write about the latest grammatically challenged Nigerian fraud email I've received - tongue firmly in cheek. Then today I watched an episode of Oprah, and there are thousands of people that have actually fallen prey to these scams. "What a bunch of eejits" you'd think, but a lot of them are intelligent professional people that just got very unlucky, and OK, admittedly, made some poor choices.

From what they were saying on the show, the scams come in various guises - not just the whole 'My millionaire uncle died and I need to get his money out of Nigeria' ones. Some of them are 'You've won the lottery' types, asking you only to pay the bank transfer fees. Others involve work at home scams, and one woman was even got on an Internet dating scam.

The last one gave me the creeps, because that's how I met my lovely Roberto, and have in fact dated successfully using this service in the past. What you're told to look out for in this case however, is men or women that are supposedly English or American professionals, but are based abroad in countries such as, wait for it, Nigeria, doing charity work. The woman on the Oprah show corresponded with a guy for a few months, fell in love, and then sent money on to him towards the orphanage he had supposedly set up. I think various amounts were transferred, and eventually this bastard even went as far as to ask her to put on a white dress and meet him at the airport. The poor woman waited there for six hours before going home in floods of tears, realising she'd been had.

These guys, based primarily in Russia and Nigeria, use professional shots of men and women stolen from modeling sites, and probably even Flicker etc, to help pass off their fake identities.

The scam expert on the Oprah Show said a good site to double check on the guy or woman you may be corresponding with, in case you aren't sure, and especially if they are based in a far off country and need money 'to help the locals', is romancescam.com. You go onto this site and type in their name to run a search. The woman who had been scammed on the show was corresponding with a Nigerian-based scammer, who it turned out had 40 plus aliases.

Another woman, and this one I can very easily see happening to just about anyone, went on to eBay to bid for a wedding dress. She kept bidding (going as high as $2,500) but eventually lost out because she didn't meet the minimum or something to that effect. The next day she received what she believed to be an email from the seller saying she would sell the dress to her for the $2,500 she had bid, off the books, so to speak. As it happened (red flag time) the sellers paypal account was on the fritz, so she requested the buyer to make a direct bank transfer. Surprise surprise, it was a scam and the email didn't even come from the real seller of the dress.

The eBay spokesperson and scam expert on the show said these scammers keep their eye on these big amount bidding processes. And then, sensing someone is desperate for something they have missed out on, move in for the kill, posing as the real seller. The eBay spokesperson said one should be very suspicious of any 'seller' attempting to sell to you outside of the normal eBay process.

Let it not be said that Oprah doesn't still have a thing or two to teach to the world.

1 comment:

Onyx said...

Not all scams are from Nigeria or by Nigerians.Some are from Asia and even in the United states and Canada.We all should be vigilant and careful .