Thursday, 19 November 2009

Scammer ping pong: how to play with an email scammer

So I decided to sell my Ford Laser, and I listed it on a used car website. I was promptly contacted by a Nigerian scammer who called himself Nicholas Smart (nicholaszx002@yahoo.com). I was feeling bored at the time, so I decided to have a bit of fun with him. Below is a sample of our email exchange. I call this game Scammer Ping Pong: hours of fun for the whole family!

Hi there, i will like to make an offer $5,900 for this, i will be happy if you accept my offer, payments will be through paypal and i will arrange the pick up well.

Cheers,
Nicholas

Dear Nicholas,

Thanks for your interest in the car. If you’d like to arrange a time to come and see it, you can call me on my mobile number.

Cheers,
Ben
Hi thanks for mailing back,i am an oceanographer, i am at sea right now,i am buying this for my son as a surprise gift and I am glad you accepted my offer.I can only pay through paypal at the moment as i dont have access to my bank account online(i dont have internet banking with it),but i have it attached to my paypal account, and this is why i insisted on using paypal to pay,all i will need is your paypal email address to make the payments,and if you dont have a paypal account yet,its pretty easy to set one up at www.paypal.com.au,i will be expecting your email.I have a pick up agent that will come for the pick up after payments has been sorted.

Cheers,
Nicholas

Hi Nicholas,

OK, thanks for letting me know. Since you won’t get to see the car before purchasing it, I want to be completely honest with you: the photos I listed were taken a few years ago. Since then, the car has been in a few accidents. But it still runs fine.

Cheers,
Ben
Ok, its no problem if it runs fine. thanks for letting me know. Just send your paypal email asap so that i can make the payment together.

Cheers,
Nicholas

Thanks, Nicholas. I must admit, the car was also involved in a minor fire recently. So the colour is no longer white. It’s more of a dark grey. But it still looks great. Two of the tyres were also destroyed in the fire, so it will need a couple of new tyres. And part of the roof was burned away, so the seats can get a bit damp when it rains. But the car runs perfectly. Anyway, you seem like a nice guy. So for you, I’d be happy to drop the price down to $5,800. Would you like me to send some more recent photos of the car?

Thanks,
Ben
Thanks alot for that. Its just what i am looking for.....There is know problem, i will get that fix for my son.....There is no need of sending me any pics again when you have already explain the condition for me. Just get back to me with your paypal so that i can just make the payment. Looking forward to read from you soon.
Great, thanks Nicholas! I should also just check with you: I hope your son is not allergic to seafood? My wife and I own a seafood shop, and we use the car to transport seafood from the markets. Usually we fill the backseat with fish, crabs, lobsters and squid. We do this a few times each week, so there is a bit of a fishy smell. Some people find the smell unpleasant — but my wife and I don’t even notice it. As long as your son isn’t allergic to seafood, I doubt he’ll even notice the smell once he has been using the car for a while. (Obviously there are also some seafood stains on the backseat. And the interior of the boot is a bit oily, since we usually keep the oysters back there. But the front of the car is nice and clean, as good as new. I’ve removed all the old prawn heads from the glove compartment, so that’s also nice and clean.)

So please could you confirm that your son has no seafood allergies? I feel responsible to tell you about this, since you seem like a very trusting person. I’d hate for your son to have an allergic reaction to the car.

Cheers,
Ben
Ok seafood is no problem. It will be perfect for my son..... Thanks alot for telling me. Get back to me with your paypal email so that i can make the payment.
Dear Nicholas,

We’re leaving for vacation tomorrow, so we’d still love to sell you the car if you’re able to send payment today. Someone else came and looked at the car today. He was very rude when he saw that the engine was missing, and he offered me $75 for the car. I think this was a very unfair price, especially since the car has great sentimental value to my wife and me. But I still feel that I may have been a bit unfair to you. So if you’d still like to buy the car for your son, I will lower the price to $5,500. Would you like to go ahead with the sale?

Thanks,
Ben
OK, i will be happy with $5500, its a good price. Get back to me asap with your paypal email and i will make the payment.

--
As our emails continued to hurtle back and forth, I also tried to get him to send me a photo of himself, and I tried to scam him out of $2. But alas, this was unsuccessful – better luck next time!

44 Comments:

Thom Stark said...

hilarious

Nathan said...

Looks fun Ben. Here's a batch of my scambaiting efforts - I'm trying to get photos of Africans holding Bible verses to turn into a calendar...

Brian Lugioyo said...

Awesome!

John P. said...

oh.my.god.

you deserve some kind of medal for this.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ben Sir,
I recently a widow of diamond company CEO. I think he died of too much spam in his inbox - so I now devote myself to ridding the web of spam. I am looking for worthy spam-fighters to include in my will (I write from hospital, where I have multiple cancers). If you promise to continue you're crusade against spam, I will hapily name you my beneficiary (USD 1,000,000). Please provide your paypal account details in response.
Ever yours in the Holy Spirit-in Christ-in God,
Princess Emefa
princessofnigeria123@hotmail.com

R.O. Flyer said...

I want more! How did it all end? Don't leave me hanging here!

Bruce L. McCormack said...

Dude, If you ever decide to quit doing theology, you have a future in stand-up.

Bruce

Anonymous said...

So funny!
Paula

Michael J. Pailthorpe said...

thanks Ben this is genius! you've inspired me

Jeff Reimer said...

Ben,

You have entered into a hallowed and venerable tradition: http://www.419eater.com.

See also this incisive article: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200706/cyberscam

Cheers,

jeff

David said...

Superb!

Patrick McManus said...

Ben,

my wife and I just read this together and I'm still wiping the tears of laughter away from my eyes...this was the funniest thing I've read in a while! Thanks.

Fat said...

Something fishy going on with this car. We have been cracking up reading of your ad-ventures.

Jason Goroncy said...

Funniest thing I've read in ages. Thanks Ben.

Anonymous said...

Dear Patrick McManus,

Did this honestly make you cry with laughter?

(If so, thanks so much for sharing with the rest of us.)

Yours sincerely,

Anon1

J. R. Miller said...

that was awesome!!!

kim fabricius said...

Apropos Bruce's comment, Wittgenstein said that "A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes." Why not, then, a Church Dog(gerel)matics by Dr. Myers?

Anonymous said...

Excellent. You should post your pearls of wisdom at 419eater.com or a similar cybersport site so others can learn from an obvious master. Pity you didn't get a trophy (=photo).

JC Dude said...

That was a piece of genius!

Jay

Erin said...

Made my day :)

roger flyer said...

still for sale?

Tim Cairns said...

very funny!

Anna M Blanch said...

Nathan plugged his site earlier but really check it out (http://st-eutychus.com/ under scambaiting). His success in getting photos has been very interesting indeed, as are the skype conversations he's recorded. Funnily enough, someone hacked Nathan's fb last year and tried to scam me by pretending that he was stuck in a hotel in manchester....they fumbled when i started asked questions about nathan's wife...they had me for the first 10 minutes though....

A.J. Smith said...

Ben, your devious. If this whole theology thing doesn't work out for you, though, at least you have something to fall back on.

Email Marketing Services said...

Nice information. What a great post! I’ve enjoyed my time here!!!!
Keep it up.

Ben Myers said...

For a moment, I actually thought that last comment ("Nice information!!!") was a funny parody, rather than real spam. But even though it is just spam, I've decided not to delete it — it fits so perfectly with the spirit of this post. For once, the spammers actually made a genuinely apposite comment!

Stig said...

Thanks for posting this. I've just had Nicholas Smart emailing me about bying my car as well. I thought his offer of buying the car unsees was a bit too good to be tru so I did a google search and found this...I'm off to have some fun with him too now:-)

Stig said...

Oh joy... after a few emails back and forth with Nicholas Smart he stopped replying. But suddenly he reappeared as Bradley Fisher Vincent, and we're having exactly the same email-conversation all over again...Not the sharpest tool in the shed this guy.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this blog... this guy just tried me! you are a lifesaver!

anon said...

I like your webblog very much. Find the information interesting. I will put you on my RSS reader. Is the car still for sale? I like to buy. Can you ship to America? Is there cost for this? :o ;)

Anonymous said...

like-wise to some of the above entries, Nicholas tried to contact me too but my wife found this site and it was only a few days ago that there was something on the news or similar about this scam. It sounded a bit wierd but your website confirmed it.

Anonymous said...

i just had the same thing happen to me.
my partner googled his email and found this site like everyone else. and it did sound to good to be true too.
it sounded suss to me as soon as he wanted me to tranfer money through western union to his pick up agent.
im still in contact with him. any sugestions to play him along.?

Anonymous said...

The same person tried me as well!

"I have an enquiry regarding price Hi there, i will like to make an offer $3,999 for this, i will be happy if you accept my offer, payments will be through paypal and i will arrange the pick up well. Cheers, Bradley.
Name Bradley Fisher Vincent
Email bfv.adam001@yahoo.com "

It seems that he has memorized a couple of routine sentences and repeat it again for everyone!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
this guy also tried us down at Australia. I am attaching you his response and my reply for a good laugh...

"--- On Sat, 5/12/09, Fisher Vincent Bradley


From: Fisher Vincent Bradley
Subject: Re: Expression of interest from drive.com.au user


Hi thanks for mailing back,i am an oceanographer, i am at sea right now,i am buying this for my son as a surprise gift and I am glad you accepted my offer.I can only pay through paypal at the moment as i dont have access to my bank account online(i dont have internet banking with it),but i have it attached to my paypal account, and this is why i insisted on using paypal to pay,all i will need is your paypal email address to make the payments,and if you dont have a paypal account yet,its pretty easy to set one up at www.paypal.com.au,i will be expecting your email.I have a pick up agent that will come for the pick up after payments has been sorted.


What is your final price?


and me:


Hi there,

I tried to log on Paypal and for security purposes in Australia Paypal has introduced a safety net of $200. In order to do such a favour to you so you can pay through Paypal, can you please send me this money first, as a payment in advance? This is not a huge amount of money and I am certain your agent will be able to afford it.

Thank you"

Anonymous said...

Hi from Adelaide...I received a similair email from the same scammer.....This is a direct cut and paste...Dave

" I have an enquiry regarding price Hi there, i will like to make an offer $9,500 for this, i will be happy if you accept my offer, payments will be through paypal and i will arrange the pick up well. Cheers,Nicholas.

Rebecca said...

Hi, Ive experienced the same thing but I got it twice in 2 days from different senders. I got it from Nicholas Smart and also Marcus Perus. Both emails pretty much saying the same thing, We are out at sea, cant get to a phone etc etc.

Anonymous said...

i posted a comment 4 posts up about him and now he is emailing me as this bradley fisher vincent fellow. haha
what a jerk off.
exact same first email... lol

Anonymous said...

Just happens to me, how do they get away with this shit, sure there is a way to shut them down?

Anonymous said...

Same dude emailed me this morning and is still wanting to buy my car. Wonder how long I can string him out... Any more tall tales I can tell??

Anonymous said...

i just got the same email telling me he is a oceanographer and is purchasing the car for his son. I cut an paste the $200 dollar request for paypal account, lets see what happens now? Do you think he might think he has heard this from someone else?

Anonymous said...

Hi, same thing, but I believed it and gave hime my paypal email, what damage can he do with this?

Dusty said...

What the?! This guy is buying alot of cars... I just got home and found an email to my Drive ad and sent back a response to get this:
... Hi thanks for mailing back,i am an oceanographer, i am at sea right now,i am buying this for my son as a surprise gift and I am glad you accepted my offer.I can only pay through paypal at the moment as i dont have access to my bank account online(i dont have internet banking with it),but i have it attached to my paypal account, and this is why i insisted on using paypal to pay,all i will need is your paypal email address to make the payments,and if you dont have a paypal account yet,its pretty easy to set one up at www.paypal.com.au,i will be expecting your email.I have a pick up agent that will come for the pick up after payments has been sorted.How much is the total cost.

With no details and crappy english, I decided to google "nicholaszx002@yahoo.com"

Thanks Ben for saving me time and money but also allowing me to waste some of his time! I have two young kids who have left some nasties in the back seat! Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! I just got one from Bean Calister, I'm in Canada.... What an ass

Hi thanks for mailing back,i am an oceanographer, i am at sea right
now,i am buying this for my son as a surprise gift his birthday......I
can only pay through paypal at the moment as i dont have access to my
bank account online(i dont have internet banking with it),but i have
it attached to my paypal account, and this is why i insisted on using
paypal to pay,all i will need is your paypal email address to make the
payments,and if you dont have a paypal account yet,its pretty easy to
set one up at www.paypal.com,i will be expecting your email.I have a
pick up agent that will come for the pick up after payments has been
sorted.

Bean

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for posting! I just got one from Jean Joy saying the same:

Hi thanks for mailing back,i am an oceanographer, i am at sea right
now,i am buying this for my son as a surprise gift and I am glad you
accepted my offer.I can only pay through paypal at the moment as i
dont have access to my bank account online(i dont have internet
banking with it),but i have it attached to my paypal account, and this
is why i insisted on using paypal to pay,all i will need is your
paypal email address to make the payments,and if you dont have a
paypal account yet,its pretty easy to set one up at www.paypal.com.i
will be expecting your email.I have a pick up agent that will come for
the pick up after payments has been sorted.

Names have changed but the content is the same, glad to know it is a scam as I figured it was!

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