The dangers of selling online

Buying online can get you scammed, for sure – but what about selling? You may think that you wouldn’t give up the item without seeing hard cash in your hand or the figure in your account, but if that’s all you’re worried about, you obviously don’t have the mind of a criminal.

Marc Chouinard over at Email Security Matters has had the idea to go actively searching for scammers. He set up an advertisement, and waited for someone “fishy” to contact him.

A buyer replied by email, stating he cannot collect the item by himself. He says he will send the money order, but that another party will come to pick the item up. So far, so good.

The money order arrives a month later, and it’s in the amount of 2,000 Canadian dollars!

Since the price for the item is 50 dollars, what’s the rest for? Luckily, you get a letter with the order, explaining everything:

So, the money that exceeds the actual payment is to be sent to the shipper arranging for the picking up of the item, and this is to be done via Western Union.

The excuse is that the shipper needs it to pay for some other items the buyer arranged the shipper to deliver to him. You are given the name, address and email of the shipper so you can arrange for the money transfer.

But, think about it – who in their right money would trust you, a complete stranger, with their hard earned 2,000 dollars cash? If you are still naive enough to believe in the legitimacy of this scheme, you haven’t been following the news lately, have you?

To explain this in a simple way: the money is acquired illegally, and if you do what the “buyer” asks of you, you’ll become a so-called money mule, and technically – an accomplice in a fraud scheme. If law enforcement comes knocking on your door, you will be held criminally liable if you can’t prove that you were unaware of the scheme.

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