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Nigerian Scams on the Rise
More Reports from
Readers Who Have Been Targeted by Nigerian Con Artists
Ship-to Names & Addresses Being Used by Nigerian Scammers
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which includes a wealth of information about Nigerian scams and how to protect
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Copyright © 2000-2013
by Barbara Brabec
All Rights Reserved
Barbara Brabec's World
Counterfeit Money Orders
and Credit Cards That Seem Okay
What’s wrong with shipping an order after the money order or
MoneyGram has been cashed, or the credit card number you’ve checked
comes back as being valid? If the buyer is in a foreign country, you
need to take additional steps before shipping.
Edited by Barbara Brabec
Posted September, 2006
Awhile back, a reader wrote to tell me about an order she had received
from a buyer asking for goods to be shipped to a Virginia zip code and
paid for by credit card. Being cautious, she said she would ship goods
only with pre-payment via an international USD money order, and only
after the money order cleared her bank.
"The buyer agreed to this," Monica wrote, "but when he agreed to send
the money order, he also asked me to include some cell phones with my
order. I figure that if I wait to ship until the money order clears, I'm
good, right? I guess I just don't understand the entire scam. ( I did
decline to purchase cell phones on his behalf, though.) What I'd like to
know is ... how can it be unsafe to accept a cashed and *cleared* money
order (OR MoneyGram) before sending goods? Cleared funds are cleared
No. After reading Monica’s e-mail, I Googled "Nigerian money orders"
and turned up 11 million Web pages on this topic offering evidence that
we should all assume from the get-go that any
money order (or cashier's check, MoneyGram, etc.) from Nigeria is likely to be
counterfeit. Don't waste your time getting shipping costs; just pass on the
order. All the scams require that checks or money orders from the Nigerian
contact be deposited in U.S. banks and a portion of those funds then wired back
out of the country. The Nigerian checks or money orders later are found to be
forged or counterfeited. The scams are basically a form of money laundering. Here’s a link to
an article on this topic on
Fraud and Scam News (the latest on Email Scams, Phishing and Internet
UNFORTUNATELY. . .
not all the counterfeit money orders are coming
from Africa. You must also be cautious about orders from other countries
as well, including nice countries like Belgium. This reader report
illustrates my point:
Debby R. wrote to tell me of a variation on this scam that would have
brought a con artist right into her home.
"Fortunately, my husband read about this type of scam on the
Internet the night before I was to ship an order to Belgium," she said.
"I had received this e-mail from a guy who wanted to buy my product at
wholesale – everything I offered. He wanted me to give him a figure,
with shipping costs included. Meanwhile, he called me five or
six times saying he had found several outlets for my product in
Belgium, and was excited about receiving my order. I told him I wouldn't
ship a thing until I saw a money order. (He refused to wire money).
I got the money order, and then he called to tell me he had a
shipper who would come to my house and pack it up, which would cost less
than what I had quoted him for shipment by USPS. He then asked that I
the excess money he had included in the money order for shipping.
"Luckily, a banker friend told me that counterfeit money orders and
cashier checks abound, and this one proved to be a fake, drawn on a bank
in the US that didn't issue money orders for more than $500. This money
order was much larger, of course, and the number traced to a bank in
Belgium that had cashed this money order four months earlier for $20!
(It cost me $5 to find out from my bank that the two banking numbers
didn't jibe.) I reported this to my Internet provider who automatically
hooked me into the FBI, where I learned that they get over 20,000 cases
like this a month. (And that’s only the cases actually reported.) The
Sheriff said he knew of people who had sent cars overseas and never saw
a penny. That old adage about being too good to be true is true! Please
tell other crafters out there that this problem is epidemic. My sister
is selling furniture on web and the exact same thing happened to her,
BUT THE CREDIT CARD CHECKS OUT AS BEING VALID . . .
Patricia Banker explained the problem here
in an earlier article
(repeated here for your convenience): "At first I figured I had nothing to lose if I got a guaranteed
pick-up receipt from the USPS. My merchant account screens and approves
all transactions, so even if it wasn't a valid card, I figured I would
be protected since I wouldn't ship until it went through. But first, I
did a search for the latest Nigerian scams and I found some interesting
things. For one thing, they keep changing credit card numbers by one digit
till they hit one that works. Bingo! Once they know it's a good one,
they use it for all it's worth. Note that it isn't always a Nigerian shipping address; sometimes
the shipping address is in the States."
Dessira Tish wrote to say she received an ordered for over $2,000
worth of the baby products she manufactures, to be sent to "Papa-ajao,
Mushin, Lagos State, Nigeria." Then they asked if she would purchase two
laptop computers for them and ship everything together. "They gave me a
credit card number that came back approved after I ran it. But after
coming across your site, I called my credit card company and requested
they research the number. Of course it came back that the number had
been stolen. Thanks for keeping everyone informed!"
Derek Edwards, webmaster of the
Computer Textile Design Group site,
reported on an order the site had received from Lagos for its online
publications. "The order seemed confused with several items being
ordered more than once and also the membership discount was being
claimed and the ‘customer’ was obviously not a member of our group. The
credit card number checked out as a valid Visa card but having received
all the usual e-mails concerning windfalls from some beloved long lost
relative, I was still suspicious. Then Google pointed me to your website
and your page on Nigerian-Scams."
Derek’s e-mail was the third one in a row that I had received from
businesses who said the cards they were given also checked out . . until
they actually called the bank that issued those cards. In the other two
cases, they were told the cards had been stolen.
So the trick to knowing
for sure seems to lie not just in using the routine checking of a card
to validate it, but going straight to the bank that issued the cards and
asking them to research that particular number. If the names don't
match, you know it has been stolen.
I think we would all be surprised to know just how many credit card
numbers have been lifted off the Internet, and how much at risk we all
are to identify theft.
Jody James, who operates
Cypress Creek Candles, received an -email from "Ms. Stacy James" who supposedly owned a
candle shop in Ohio. She asked Jody to send $1500.00 of her candles (all
sizes) to an "Olaniyi James at No. 85 Agba Dam Housing Estate Rd in
Ilorin, Kwara State Nigeria, 23431. "She gave me three different credit card numbers to cover this order
and its shipping costs. We were going to try to ship the candles, but I
decided to call the customs department as the forms for air parcel post
were confusing. I was advised to reconsider shipping anything to Nigeria
and to do further checking on the credit cards. I called our credit card
service and was told that the cards were issued through Chase Bank and I
needed to call them. I was told that the cards had been put on a "watch"
and the names did not match with the name I was given."
After Jody e-mailed her, explaining that the cards were no good, she
received a telephone relay call from asking if she had shipped the
candles. "She offered to give me another credit card, but I told her
that I had contacted the customs department and was advised not to ship
anything to Nigeria at this time. She said ‘Okay, Goodbye.’ Hopefully that was the end of that! I also had a request back in
June from another person wanting candles shipped to Africa and wanting
me to also buy and include a cell phone in the shipment. I politely declined that order! You would think I would
have been forewarned with that one! I wish I'd found your website before
dealing with these characters!"
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