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Online Fraud, Internet Fraud, Nigerian Fraud, PayPal Fraud, eBay Fraud, Nigerian Scam, Internet Scam, Online Scam, PayPal, eBay,

I never thought I would ever get scammed. I always figured I was too smart and too discerning to be conned by a shadowy figure/smooth criminal on the other end of a telephone or keyboard. I was wrong. I got scammed, and hopefully, this post will prevent someone else from suffering a similar fate. The chain of events was set in motion when I decided to advertise a new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus smartphone for sale on eBay. I had never used eBay before because I always felt it was not worth the risk of somebody selling me a box of bricks (trust me I have heard the stories) to get a good deal. In this instance I was desperate, I was in the market for a DSLR camera and selling this smartphone was the fastest and least costly way I could get it. I could have easily and safely sold the phone back to the dealer, but store credit wasn’t going to get me my DSLR camera.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus

Being a newbie to eBay, I was unfamiliar with its policies and customs. I figured I would post the smartphone and in a couple of days at most, somebody would pay me my asking price of 400 USD, and I would be able to get my camera. Posting the item on eBay was relatively straightforward. There were options for payment type, sale type, shipment and the length of the advertisement. Less than one day after I advertised the phone for sale I got my first response. The prospective buyer had met my asking price and was also willing to cover the shipping expenses. All looked right with the world, I was already dreaming about taking photographs with my shiny new camera.

Because of the detail and extent of the scam, I thought it was best to outline what happened in bullet form. This way persons can see clearly my missteps and not make the same mistakes.

Outline of the events that unfolded:

  • I advertise smartphone for sale on eBay.
  • Receives message from potential buyer informing me of willingness to purchase the item for my selling price.
  • Buyer requests my email address to send payment via PayPal.
  • The buyer tells me to use USPS to ship the item and provide him with the tracking number as soon as I send the package.
  • I receive an email from PayPal notifying me that 500 USD  was deposited to my account. 400 USD for the sale of the phone and 100 USD to cover shipping expenses. The PayPal email states that it is their policy to hold the money for security for new accounts or transactions over a certain amount. The email also lists the name and address of the recipient.
  • I notice that the recipient is in Lagos, Nigeria. This is my first red flag, but I still go ahead with the transaction.
  • I go to USPS to have the phone shipped. While I am there, I voice my concerns to a couple of the employees about the possibility of this transaction being a scam. One of the employees warns me against sending the phone and tells me that his son got scammed in a similar situation. Nevertheless, I still go ahead and have the phone shipped.
  • I then post the tracking number on eBay, email tracking number to PayPal and then send the tracking number via SMS to the buyer.
  • I inform the buyer that my money is still not cleared. The buyer tells me not to worry and that it’s standard PayPal policy.
  • I check with PayPal and find out that it is indeed protocol to hold payments from new transactions or payments over a certain amount.
  • I check my PayPal account and realize that the 500 USD is not being reflected in the PayPal app. This is my second red flag.
  • Two days pass and the money has still not been cleared or is reflecting in my PayPal app (only in email). At this point, I can’t help but think that something is wrong.
  • I get a message from the buyer asking my reasons selling the phone and the condition of the phone. I tell the buyer that it is a new phone and that I need the money. The buyer tells me they are purchasing the phone for their brother and that they hope he likes it. I also let the buyer know that the money is still not cleared. The buyer assures me that it is normal and that everything is fine.
  • As soon as I am done messaging the buyer, I get an email from PayPal telling me that they are having technical difficulties and that they are working to process my payment. This is my third red flag.
  • The next day I tell my mother (who has used eBay before) about my experiences and she tells me that the buyer is not supposed to be messaging me outside of the eBay network. Suddenly a sickening feeling descends over me, and I start feeling a numbing pain in my belly. The painful realization that I was scammed hits me, and I freeze right there on my mother’s carpet.
  • I contact USPS  to find out if I can have the packaged stopped. They tell me that an international shipment cannot be stopped or returned to sender.
  • After doing some reading on the USPS website, I realize that indeed the package cannot be stopped. I can’t help but wonder if that was why the buyer was so determined for me to use this particular shipping service. Is that the case with all courier services? I was too broken to check.
  • After doing some more reading online, I also realized that this and similar scams were very popular on eBay.
  • After I had exhausted my limited options, I was resigned to the fact that I was scammed. I even contacted the buyer/scammer to congratulate him on a well-played scam (yes, I am weird like that).

If you are still reading this post, you might be wondering how I managed to get scammed even with all those red flags. Well, PayPal played a big part in this scam. The scammer used spoof emails from PayPal to authenticate the fraud. If I hadn’t received those emails purporting to be from PayPal, I would never have shipped the item.

I grew angry as the days went by and I wallowed in my embarrassment and self-pity. How could I get taken like this? I was now out of my phone, the money I paid for shipping and I wouldn’t have enough money to buy my new DSLR camera. After a couple more days of rationalizing what had happened and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take action. It was an incredibly long shot; I couldn’t physically get to Nigeria, and it was too expensive for me to deal with the matter over the telephone, but I had to do something. That’s when I had the light-bulb moment. Like the old saying goes: The pen is mightier than the sword. I wrote emails to the Nigerian Post Master General, the Nigerian Police Commissioner, and any other Nigerian agency I thought would be interested.

Screenshot of emails

After my series of email messages to the Nigerian authorities, I contacted the International Division of USPS. I explained the situation to the customer service representative and asked if they could instruct the post office in Lagos, Nigeria to hold and then return the package. The customer service person informed me that he couldn’t make any promises, but he could take my information and pass it on to the appropriate department.There I thought that they were the appropriate department. I was also told that this process would take fifteen days. Fifteen days to pass information from one department to another, talk about efficiency. I had no choice but to wait and wait I did. After ten days I called the International Division of USPS for the second time. This time they were less than helpful (if that was possible). The representative told me that these incidents of fraud occur often, are difficult to investigate and have low success rates.

It was now almost four weeks since I advertised my phone on eBay. Four weeks since I shipped my phone to a stranger in Nigeria. Four weeks since I was scammed. I had been taught an embarrassing, difficult and expensive lesson.

One day I was home in front of my laptop when I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door, and there was a USPS personnel. Guess what he had in his hands?

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35 comments on “I Was Scammed by A Nigerian on eBay/PayPal

  1. thinkstone says:

    Haha haha! You are so lucky!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Schlüter says:

    Unfortunately in Nigeria which is suffering so much from Western manipulations and Saudi inspired Terrorism an “industry” of deceit has emerged!
    All the best for the dangerous year ahead of us!
    „Thanks to my Readers – Dank an meine Leser“: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/thanks-to-my-readers-dank-an-meine-leser-3/
    Regards

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting points. Thank you.

      Like

  3. Cherryl says:

    Terrible, but you hit the nail on the head with you mum’s comment – you shouldn’t communicate or agree to anything outside of normal Ebay procedures or website – the buyer should make the payment through Ebay as prompted – not outside it via an email address. Thank goodness you pursued and managed to get it back – some might have just held their hands up in defeat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah. It was embarrassing on my part, but I persevered. Learned a valuable lesson too.

      Like

      1. Cherryl says:

        Not your fault, it’s a shame we have to be so suspicious of people, scammers are everywhere!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ambrosiaomg says:

    Well done. I especially like that you didn’t just fold your hands and let the person get away with it. Even if you hadn’t gotten the phone back you’d have at least given it your best shot. Kudos!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah. It’s not like me to fold my hands and give up. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda says:

    Maybe you were scammed but in the end, you were tenacious enough to GET YOUR PHONE BACK! Bravo and thanks for sharing your experience!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you and thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. N. E. White says:

    Good on you for following up with the Nigerian authorities. Now we know there are good people everywhere – of course. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. We have to do our best to stop these kinds of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. calmkate says:

    Well done and thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laura says:

    So glad it all worked out. I was scammed many years ago by a door-to-door salesman who seemed legit with magazines. I ordered subscriptions to 3 different magazines. Paid by check. Check cleared. No magazines. I, too, had second thoughts but wanted to help a young man struggling to make a living while in college. Lesson learned: I always go with my gut feeling.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about that. Even though it worked out for me, I know many persons aren’t so lucky. This experience thought me a valuable lesson and I hope it stops someone else from getting scammed. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for sharing this info and also, thank you for following my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Glad this story had a happy ending. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. prior.. says:

    oh wow – you are so blessed/lucky to have this ending and wonderful that you thought of contacting USPS = woo -hoo –
    and may everyone here listen up.

    thanks for sharing your story and wow –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Amazing that you were able to get your phone back. And here I was starting to feel sorry for you and was going to offer my Canon T2i since I no longer use it. So what dslr are you going to get? And don’t forget to post your first photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I got a Canon Rebel T6. I have already posted photos. I interchange between the T6 and my Nikon L830. Check out some of the photographs and let me know what you think.

      Like

      1. I will. The T2i is the great, great, great grandfather of the T6. I loved it and keep think of upgrading from the kit lens but I’ve been really happy with the Fuji. I’ll check out your photos right after lunch! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. bythebriny says:

    That’s amazing that you actually got your phone back! Good for you to be so proactive.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jnkbrdg says:

    Oh thank goodness that ended well! That was some quick thinking on your part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. dunelight says:

    Yikes…and wow. I did not know UPS would do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

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