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eBay Nigeria Scam Exposed

It’s easy to focus on the $6 billion money train that is the eBay “digital marketplace” (or auction site in everyday language – “Internet Marketers, Are you on the eBay Money Train Yet?” But if you’re not careful, you could fall prey to scam artists.

With a worldwide audience, that set of Pez dispensers could evoke a fierce bidding war between collectors in Belgium and Thailand, and the tussle could boost your sale price quite substantially. But again, beware the sharks out there.

Last week, I put up a cell phone for auction on eBay and within 4 hours, a buyer took up the “Buy It Now” option, purchasing the phone at the price I specified. This certainly was a bright prospect for my eBay plans. What’s more I got a PayPal payment notification from the UK buyer, along with an email that read:

I just sent the payment for the item. I also included
an estimated cost of shipping to Nigeria for my son
company. Please let me know when you get a
notification from ebay that Slong Girl sent you a
payment. Send me the tracking number via auspost as
soon as you ship the item. I am having difficulties
getting across to my son that manage her father
company over there. I gave his address to paypal for
verification and it has been confirmed so it should be
in the payment notification.
His correct mailing address again is:

Atolagbe Agbede
03 Ijaiye Road
Opp Mobil Filling Station
Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos
Nigeria 23401

Thanks and I hope to read from you as soon as possible
cos I want this to get to him at the shortest period
of time.

A UK buyer asking for a cell phone to be sent to Nigeria?

Plus the PayPal “payment notification” looked dubious. The payment amounts were all wrong and it came from “Services@Paypal.com” instead of the regular “service@paypal.com” (a hallmark of scam artists = poor spelling).

Even better, the email was sent from: “pp.notification.status@post.com” and “pp.notification1@gmail.com” – pretty poor email spoofing if you ask me.

As if these weren’t bad enough, the “bidder” had the audacity to send more fake email:

Dear andrew wee,

We hereby notify you of the transaction that was effected by Slong Girl for the

payment of the item(s) purchased from you on eBayand provide guidelines on how your funds

would be released.

A notification of this transaction on PayPal as been sent to you immediately the payment

was effected, and we are yet to read from you. Please be informed that the money has

been deducted from Slong Girl account and is pending on PayPal database.

This money will be released into your account as soon as the tracking number for the shipment

has been sent to us at pp.notification.status@mail.com for verification. You are adviced

to ship this item and send the tracking number you recieve from the post office to us at the

above email address.

We will send you an email as soon as the funds has been released into your account, until then

we wait for the tracking number for the shipment. Ship the Item to the address included in the

email used to you notify you of the payment for your item(s) ONLY!

Thank you using PayPal.

Chris Campbell

PP Email ID 936

This was sent from the same mail.com and gmail.com emails.

So the scam works in this way:

  • They do a bait and switch on you: A US or UK eBay buyer will request for the item to be sent to Nigeria.
  • They’ll mail you saying the payment is “held” pending shipment of the item and for you to send them the tracking number.
  • If you fall for this, you’ll ship the item.
  • They’ll disappear.

If you’re unsure, mail eBay’s customer service and get assistance.

Other telltale scam artist signs:

  • The account was created a few hours or a few days ago
  • Yours is the first item they have bought (they seem to like cell phones, PDAs and small electronic equipment they can presumably offload into the black market easily)

Checking the eBay site a day later, I found the person’s account had been suspended.

They are persistant though, here’s a followup email I received:

I just sent the payment for the item. I also included
an estimated cost of shipping to Nigeria for my son
company. Please let me know when you get a
notification from ebay that Slong Girl sent you a
payment. Send me the tracking number via auspost as
soon as you ship the item. I am having difficulties
getting across to my son that manage her father
company over there. I gave his address to paypal for
verification and it has been confirmed so it should be
in the payment notification.
His correct mailing address again is:

Atolagbe Agbede
03 Ijaiye Road
Opp Mobil Filling Station
Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos
Nigeria 23401

Thanks and I hope to read from you as soon as possible
cos I want this to get to him at the shortest period
of time.

If you’re newer to eBay, do realize that the protocol is to receive payments BEFORE you ship items to the buyer.

PayPal provides some level of consumer protection for buyers, but you need to be savvy if you’re a seller.

Update: A buddy who is an eBay powerseller recommends listing items at the Bidz marketplace (which has some similarities to eBay – take note, it’s primarily focused on jewellery auctions).

If you’re interested in checking it out:

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