Good Thing For Us — Internet Scammers are Pretty Stupid

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I decided I needed (OK, maybe not needed, but certainly could use… OK, I just wanted) the new 120GB iPod, so I put my 80GB iPod on Craig’s List. The first email I got was from a “doctor” in Boulder who was in vacation in Hawaii, but wanted to pay me via PayPal and have me send it to his “woman” in Africa.

Yeah, right. Maybe he’ll trade me for my beautiful seafront property in Nebraska.

Then I got this email from Ro Ju (I’ll put his email address here — — so all the other spammers will find it and he’ll at least have to register for a new Yahoo account!). It said:

Hi is it still available,if yes,do you accept paypal?

I decided to have some fun with this one, so I responded that I would be happy to take PayPal. I didn’t ask him why, but he felt compelled to explain his situation to me. The next email said:

Thanks for your reply, i am a very busy man thats why, can you ship to Africa for me to my lovely wife who is on a missionary trip there for our church with my son and i pay you with paypal since it secures both buyer and seller, and you can confirm payment from your account before you ship? is it possible?i will pay you for all extra charges and also for shipment to make sure you get your exact amount for the sale.
Hope to read from you soon.

Anyone else notice that he never asked the condition, what it came with, etc.? You know, all the stuff that someone that really wanted to buy an iPod would ask? I responded that I’d be happy to help out, but I’d need to increase the price to $400, and I estimated shipping would be $200. I asked if that would be OK. The response:

so kindly send me a PayPal money request or just give me your PayPal email address so i can pay immediately

So now Ro “Savvy Internet Shopper” Ju is happy to pay me $600 for a used 80GB iPod when he could buy a new 120GB from Apple for $249. Gosh, I must be an amazing salesman.

As an aside, is there a “how to be an idiot Internet scam artist” Web site out there that advises everyone to note your beautiful wife is doing missionary work? Seriously.

So, this is kind of fun. I wondered how far I could take this and sent the following response:

OK, but I’m so concerned for and moved by your family doing God’s work in Africa, let me make this offer: I’ll fly personally to Africa and deliver the iPod to your lovely wife. I’ve priced tickets, and I’ll need to invoice you via PayPal for $3,264.27 (airfare to Africa and hotel ) plus the $400 for the iPod and I’m requesting a $500/day per diem to enjoy the continent while I’m delivering this iPod to your wife.

I’ll document the entire trip via photo and video and post it to my blog so the world can see how much you care for your lovely wife and how much she will be enjoying her new iPod.
Let me know if this is acceptable to you. Happy to help out with your busy schedule!
(Apparently, you can just type “Africa” in to the search function on Travelocity and magically find Ro Ju’s lovely wife and visit her. Technology is so cool!)Sadly, that was too rich for Ro Ju, who asked me to just send him the invoice for $600. No trip to Africa for me, I guess. That’s OK, we’ve been pretty busy at work.
In case you’re curious, the scam (at least one variation) works like this: I send them my PayPal details, and I get a faked email that looks like it came from PayPal noting the deposit of $600 into my account. If I don’t check that against PayPal itself — which won’t show the transaction because there wasn’t one — I ship the merchandise and am out, in this case, one iPod. I’m sure there are other variations. Worse, if I click on the “payment” email, it takes me to a shadow site and, if I enter anything, a bunch of scammers have my PayPal information, even if I never shipped the iPod. Sadly, it works too often.
This guy was such a fool it was fun to mess with him a little. He’s probably very excited to be getting his PayPal invoice shortly. Instead, in just a moment, I’m going to send him an email with a link to this post.
Happy reading, doofus!
Photo by Yanik Chauvin/

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