While posting a product online, I came across a well-developed scam. When I saw it, I wanted to humour the bad guys and see what information I might glean from the process. This is not something you should do, but the details I’ve gathered can help you look at these scams with a more critical eye to avoiding them. Scam watching is more important today given how sophisticated they can be.
After finalizing the post, the bad guy will immediately message you and ask for shipping. His words were “I would love overnight [sic] shipping too [sic] me and see how much it would cost.” His command of English was clearly limited, and I had clearly stated in the Kijiji ad that shipping was not possible. I decided, heck, why not, let’s see where this goes.
The address he provided was also strange – 5810 Ambler Drive, Unit 14, LOS 27436, Mississauga, ON, L4W 4J5 – this address was clearly part of the scam somehow, and with his name set to “Micheal Anderson”, it seemed too generic to find him. But, the “LOS 27436” must refer to a mailbox or some other holding box. Looking into the address and unit number, it appears as though a company called Aramex is located in that unit. Could they be part of this? It’s possible, but also someone subletting from them could be the scammer.
Once the trivialities of our transaction were finalized (I offered my full name and email address up to the scammer), he sent me an Interac transfer email. This is where it gets interesting.
Take a look at the above image (larger size here). You’ll see some things you should immediately be looking for. These are tell-tale signs that the message is fake, and you’re being conned out of something valuable.
First, while the email message looks real (including the colours), the “from” address here is email@example.com. This is a serious red flag since a typical Interac transfer email would come from an address like firstname.lastname@example.org. Always look for a trusted domain name (such as interac.ca) in the domain of the transfer email.
Next, the text of the amber-coloured button. This area is generally what you’d expect to click to open your financial institution’s website. In this scam email, it isn’t a link but rather contains the text: “Password will be released to you upon provision of shipment tracking number”. This is important because it shifts the power of payment receipt to them (by way of authenticating a tracking number). In this case, if you follow the process and ship the product, they’ll receive it on the other end and provide no payment. Always be cognizant of who holds this power. If you are a seller, you should always hold this power.
Also, the note below is amusing. It says:
“Note: this is a secure payment and funds have already been deducted from Buyer’s account. Do not send tracking to buyer, reply to this email with the tracking number for confirmation so you can get the password. This is a security measure taken to make sure buyer and seller have a safe business transaction. “
The phrase “deducted from buyers account” is important as it will allow the scammer leverage over you later if you balk at the process. He’ll say “Where is the money?” to “I’ll call the police, you stole from me“. This is a way they use your basic knowledge of Interac transactions against you. If done well, they make you feel guilty and as if you stole from them. That is not the case, because no money has been deducted. Further, if a legitimate Interac transaction is not accepted within a time frame, it will be returned to the sender.
All of this is to say that the email tries to gain authority, but you know better. Look for other clues here too. The sparse use of space; Interac emails tend to use space better. The lack of links to legitimate sites can also provide hints. Naturally, look badly written English; this is perhaps the biggest giveaway with scams.
Please, don’t get caught by a scam like this. Don’t ever ship or deal in electronic transfer on sites like Kijiji or Craigslist. Never offer personal information such as your full name or phone number on Kijiji. Use an email address and physical address that is not your main one whenever possible. Read the Kijiji FAQ. File a complaint against the bad guy and report it to law enforcement.