My brother had an interesting experience recently: he was selling a PSP games console on eBay and had given it a ‘Buy It Now’ price. He got an email from eBay saying that it had been sold, and another from Paypal saying that the payment had arrived.
He also had a message from the UK purchaser, saying that they would be grateful if it could be shipped straight to his son a.s.a.p. as it was his birthday coming up. Could it go in the post the following morning? He had added a suitable sum to the payment to cover the extra shipping cost.
The machine was all boxed up and ready to go, but there was one aspect which made them hesitate just before taking it to the post office.
The delivery address was in Nigeria…
They went back and looked more carefully at the emails, which had looked entirely genuine, and found that they weren’t quite the real thing. And when they went to the eBay account, sure enough, the item was marked as sold, but no payment had been received. Only the carefully-targeted emails made them think that the sale was completed.
They looked on Google and discovered that neither the address in the UK given by the purchaser, nor, it appeared, the one in Nigeria to which it was supposed to be delivered, seemed to exist. Presumably the perpetrator was planning to collect it from the post office or some similar scheme.
However, the interesting question is whether they (or I) would have fallen for the scam if it hadn’t contained the word ‘Nigeria’. If the supposed son had been in a remote country with a less tarnished online reputation – in Italy, or Egypt, or Poland, perhaps – they might now be kicking themselves…