Avoiding falling victim to online scams

Hi all.

I thought I would share a few top tips to avoid falling for online scams.

Things to look out for:

- Poor grammar in English or French

- Person saying they are out of the country temporarily

- Requests for any transaction whatsoever through Western Union / Moneygram

-Unrealistically low price

- Anyone who asks you to do anything that is less than 100 % above board.

- Anyone who sends you a list like this:





- People asking for payment up front for any "expenses" whatsoever.

How to root out a scammer

Always ask for a phone number and speak to the person on the phone about whatever it is you are buying. A legitimate seller will have no problems doing so.

Be careful, some scammers use forwarding numbers with a French dialling code. Look for any starting with 09. Yes, some of these are Freebox/Livebox numbers etc, but can also be forwarded to systems such as Skype.

UK forwarding numbers tend to start with 0700.

It is a cliché, but it cannot be repeated enough.....

If it seems too good to be true, it is a SCAM!

Looking forward to the next episode, Mark

It has now been 2 weeks since I contacted the advertiser of this bargain jeep which has had "36 emails/offers".

Remarkably it is still available! These are the latest emails.

Me-"Ok thanks,
I look forward to getting the details.
When & where can I collect the Jeep after payment?

Many thanks,"

You can come after 1 September an pick up the Jeep
So if you want to reserve the Jeep please tell me to give you my bank account


Me -"Yes, let me have your bank details."

"Here is my bank details where you can pay the money for Jeep
Account name: Anton Livi LTD
account: 83584941
sort: 20-12-80
bic/swift code: BARCGB22
iban: GB78BARC20128083584941
Bank: Barclays
Bank address: 108 Upper Lewes road, Brighton , BN2 3FE
United Kingdom
After you done the transfer the Jeep will be reserved only for
I wait your payment confirmation to close all conversation with other customers
This is so obviously a fraud - a Jeep of the quality of the photos sent to me would be worth much more.
Here is a genuine advert for a similar Jeep:-

Ford GPW 1943

Regularly serviced. 5 new tyres. Complete new exhaust. New radiator. Repro .30 cal MG on dash mount. BC 1000 Radio on Jeep Mount, comes with all extras (infantry harness etc) MOT exempt, Tax exempt. £15,500. Kent.
Accorging to the copy of the logbook the hookey Jeep belongs to a person in Redruth, yet I have to send my money to a company account in Brighton??? Time to ask him some pertinent questions, I think!

After waiting a few days it seems that this "bargain" is still available! I have sent this:-

"Hi ,
Is it possible to reserve the jeep?
When could I collect it & where is it?

Many thanks,"

To which the scammer has replied:-

If you want to reserve i will give my bank account to transfer half of money
After the car will be reserved only for you

The deposit has now doubled & he has not answered my questions concerning where the jeep is & when I could collect it. Time to ask some serious questions!

I have expressed an interest in this jeep.

"Thank you for the photos of the jeep. It looks perfect! Is the engine good? Has it had a new cam belt recently? When would it be possible to come & look at it? I am very interested in it. Many thanks,"

The pressure to buy now goes up a gear -

Yes the engine work good
Like i tell you in my first e-mail i have some customers interested to reserve the car
In case you want to reserve the Jeep only for you i will send my bank account where you can deposit 1000 euro
Please let me know your decision

Now I'll ask for his bank details.

Gives us all great faith in those bodies who take our taxes from us, doesn't it?

I like your thinking but I don't think government computers are any good. I asked DVLA to check a logbook using the document number only to be told that this was not possible. What, I asked, was the document number for? Tax & sorn, apparently.

Yes Mark, exactly, but when we hear that the powers that be and law enforcement agencies are unable to do anything about the scammers when we can see full well their every action is recorded, doesn't that ring worrying bells? Call me suspicious (brian, you are suspicious!!) but it looks like many criminal actions are tolerated and even permitted. So they can sit there monitoring Granny Jones writing that it costs a bomb to fly by KLM for her New York shopping spree and people who are actually part of scams who maybe get one person in a thousand to send them a payment are nonetheless part and parcel of criminal organisations raking in thousands every day are allowed to get on with it! Doh?

Brian, GCHQ has been doing this for years & I really don't care! Electronic data is analysed by computers which look for key words, like "bomb" & "aeroplane". These are then flagged & checked by people. There is not a gang of pimply youths shut off from the world with a pair of headphones on, giggling at the exploits of some errant husband as he relates them to a friend. Even if all my output WAS heard by a third party I would not worry as I am neither a criminal nor a terrorist so provided my private stuff was not given willy nilly to the likes of Julian Assange (the well known intellegence analyst - not) who then makes it public (via the Grauniad - renown for its unbias reporting, not).

What worries me is that the NSA, America's intellegence gathering & spy agency, can recruit people who clearly do NOT have any intellegence as the new recruits, having joined a spy agency, seem completely shocked that the agency SPIES! So a warning to all young university leavers - if you are asked to join an outfit with a name like MI6, your boss is called M, you carry a gun & are flown round the world first class at the drop of a hat & you are asked to break in to foreign embassies to steal documents you have probably become a spy - just in case you really thought you had become a bodyguard for Justin Beiber.

To use this system for monitoring faily minor criminal activity would require much more manpower or a pair of clever people like the Channel 5 programme "Person of Interest".

Trouble is, James, if you do not give your real email address how can I read his replies?

This is his first one:-


I send you some pictures to see the condition of car
In case you want to reserve the car i will give my bank account
I wait your fast answer because i received 36 emails/offers .
Kindly decide in a timely manner as a few potential buyers have expressed interest
and my rule is first serious person with interest is first served.
You can pick up or i can delivery the car to your address after 13 August 2013 because now im in holiday.
You can call me on this number +44/7526015690

He includes a copy of the V5c - with doctored reg number, does not refer to the jeep, just "the car".

The averts says the jeep is in Kirkcaldy but the logbook has an address in Redruth!

I spoke to the DVLA today to ask what reg number SHOULD be on this logbook but they cannot cross reference the logboog serial number with the vehicle, which I find difficult to believe.

In theory it is impossible for scams or other criminal activities on the net to happen more than once. However we can perhaps assume that somebody in high places is letting them happen. Why do I say this? I have just been reading about the secret National Security Agency (NSA) programme that allows analysts to search, with no prior authorisation, databases containing emails, on-line chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals. This is according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden that tell us about a programme called X-Keyscore. The Guardian has reproduced a top secret presentation from 2008. http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jul/31/nsa-xkeysc...

Take a look, it is shocking. Of course it is not about people scamming others, but given the extent of the X-Keyscore programme and the fact that it can see and hear every word we write or speak (on telephones at least) it is almost incredible law enforcement agencies allow scammers to stay in business, which they clearly do. What a world people!

I would be very wary of doing this with your real name.

A google search will bring up a raft of personal information about you.

If you are going to "bait" a scammer, always always use a fake e-mail address and NEVER use your real name.

Great idea Mark. A working example of what to look out for, with our comments thrown in.

Please do post the reply when you receive it

Don't worry, James, I already know that. Apart from the bad grammar, the price is a giveaway.

I think it would be a good idea to post his reply here so that the others have a real life example to go alongside your guide.

Mark. That is also a scam. Don’t waste your time!

I have responded to an advert on Autoscout24 for a Wartime jeep.

I want to sell fast because i have other project
For more pictures and detail please e-mail me

It is advertised for 4000 euros. As my hobby is collecting military vehicles I can safely say that this is outrageously cheap. It should be nearer 10 to 12000 euros at least!

I will post his reply.

I had an e -mail exchange re a car trailer on Le Boncoin. Exactly as you say. It was only on the last e-mail he asked for the money via Western Union. There was another one on www.marche.fr.

I recently put my house up for sale on a free on-line UK-based estate agents web-site. Someone registered with the agency as a potential purchaser and the agency sent me an e-mail with his e-mail address saying he was very interested in buying my house. I e-mailed "Harry Smith of Texas, USA" and received a reply which basically said he'd buy my house but he had $7,000,000 to invest in Euros and wanted "to trust me" with this money etc etc etc...... So be warned if you get an e-mail from hrysmith26@hotmail.com . I have since contacted the estate agency, with the money laundering scam details, but had no reply.

Take a look at this too:


Who do you trust? Good question.

It is also not as safe to use Leboncoin and even offers on networks like Anglo-Info as people believe. Scammers rely on certain things like trustworthiness to cover what they are doing. Never give more than a single contact, so one phone number or email address only, too much data begins to build up a profile that matched with your address can be used for assuming your identity for a scam.

Western Union advises its customers not to send money to someone that they have never met in person. Yet they are extensively used for scams. Advance-fee fraud and romance scammers receive funds via Western Union confident in the knowledge that money lost to overseas scammers is almost always unrecoverable. Having been an international bank longer than most others they have branches and agents in more places than most other banks. However, American Express, HSBC, Barclays, BNP Paribas, you name it, are used. VISA transactions are a hiding to nothing too. Because I have mainly had overseas payments FROM poor countries, I have often had quite stringent checks at this end. The other end is not so thorough.

Oh yes, Sheila's one is important to bear in mind. It has made it a bit of a nightmare for booking hotels for work assignments, conferences and the likes if one really is paying up front and travelling to place X from place A but has people from B and C (developing nations) they are covering. Yet because the tourist and hospitality industry have had a hard five or so years they bend over backwards and the overpaid advance business has blighted it for legit people. Yet it is still running as well known the cheque scams are. Also beware other ones like a real cheque to order a pair of shoes, followed by a massive order for clothing/shoes (or other goods) from the same person with a cheque payment. It is from another account that is empty, non-existent or whatever but the designer/quality goods have high value on the market when resold.

As James says, too good to be true, it is a scam.