Obviously I have too much time on my hands…

…or rather, I decide that responding to scammers is more productive than practicing, working on my website, working on the website I’ve been hired to design, or preparing for lessons and interviews. Hmm.

Anyway, I responded to “Denise” who claimed to want my iPod Touch for her “colleague” supposedly interning at an Ontario law firm. I’m really curious to see if they do when you scam them right back. (Like, is she going to insist that I just give her my PayPal account already? How many times can I respond before the scammer behind this goes “THIS ISN’T WORTH IT I GIVE UP ALREADY”?)

Hi Denise,
You’re in luck! My brother Gerald just graduated from USC with a major in pre-law and he is currently visiting law firms in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. In less than two weeks he will be shadowing at several law firms in Ontario.

I told him about this and he said he will be more than happy to bring the iPod straight to your colleague. There is a very high chance he will run into him and even if he doesn’t it will be very easy to meet up. This means that I won’t ask you to pay any shipping charges, just the flat price of $200.

My brother will be staying with a friend at the University of Toronto for one week and then at the Square Philips Hotel in Montreal. It will be easy for your colleague to meet him there, and there may even be a chance that your colleague might actually be at one of the firms my brother is visiting.

I’m sure this plan will work out perfectly for both of us! Let me know what law firm your colleague is at so I can let my brother know, (also his/her name so Gerald knows who to contact) and if you’re okay with all this I’ll set up a PayPal account and have you transfer the money to me!

Let me know as soon as possible, my brother leaves on the 27th. He is currently wrapping up an internship examining fraud cases with Aldrin, Mosby and Scherbatsky. (You might have heard of them, they were on TV recently!)


No, I don’t have a brother Gerald, I don’t know if there is a University of Toronto (I assume there is) and I really hope whoever is behind this is not a fan of How I Met Your Mother.

Oh boy, scams!

First off, does anyone want to buy a brand new unopened iPod Touch? It’s an 8 GB and I want to 1) get rid of it and 2) make some money to pay off the new 15.4″ MacBook Pro I got. (My parents got it for me on the condition that I repay them in full.) I also have a brand new wireless all-in-one printer (HP Photosmart) for sale too!

Okay, on to the point of this post. Out of curiosity I posted a listing for the iPod Touch to the Facebook Marketplace, stating that it was brand new, unopened, and that I was selling it for $200.
The next day I got a message from a random girl (“Denise Francis”) who was not one of my friends, a friend of a friend, or even someone in any of my networks. She wrote:
I’m looking to buy your iPod touch for my colleague, who is working out an internship in a law firm in Ontario, Canada. I’m willing to pay $270 for it including shipping via U.S Postal Service (Express Mail International). Do you accept paypal? plz respond as soon as u can
Several things looked instantly suspicious to me.
1) The sudden switch from coherent English to chatspeak
2) The involvement of a deserving, hard-working individual (her “interning colleague”; I feel like if this girl really wanted to buy an iPod Touch, she’d just say “Hey I want to buy it,” not “I want to buy it for John Doe who works this job.”)
3) The fact that she apparently wants me to send it to Canada, i.e. outside of the U.S. border
4) The fact that she specified exactly what type of shipping she wanted
5) Even though I repeatedly stated I was selling it for $200, which is not a huge bargain, she was offering $270. If you don’t know much about scams, a lot of them involve sending you a lot more money than expected or asked for.
6) That it had to be through PayPal. Yes, PayPal is convenient, but scams often involve electronic/online wiring.
However, I thought, I could be totally wrong about this. Maybe this chick really does want to spend $270 for a random American to send her an iPod for her colleague. So I replied fairly politely:

Hi Denise,

I am a little curious, why are you willing to pay $270 when I stated that I am selling it for $200? Of course I am happy to let it go for $270, but if you are calculating shipping in, it would be $10 within the states and about $30 to Canada, so the most you would have to pay would be $230. If you were to buy your colleague a new iPod Touch in Canada, it would only cost you $219, and I imagine that buying one new for $219 is much easier than going through the trouble of transferring funds to me and having me mail you one for $270.

For security reasons I would prefer a physical check, mailed to me so that I can cash it before sending to make sure the funds are legitimate. I do realize that this does slow things down a bit but I’m sure you would do the same to make sure you weren’t getting ripped off!

As you noted, your colleague is in Canada. I assume that were you to pay me, it would be in US dollars, yes? Would it be better for me to mail it straight to him/her? What law firm does (s)he work at, and what is his/her name?

I apologize for all the nosiness and paranoia, but I just want to make sure that you’re not a scam and that I have to report you! đŸ˜‰ Otherwise I would be more than happy to work out a deal for the iPod Touch.


She replied:

I understand your concern Sharon.. im not use to international shipping that was the reason why i bidded 270 bucks.. well i will just reduced it to $250. I can only pay thru paypal, cos it safe, easy and fast and paypal also guarantee the protection of buyers and seller. You can log on to www.paypal.com and set up an account. Let me know your thought about this

Seriously? You “don’t understand” shipping and it’s too hard to go to USPS.com and click on “calculate shipping”? She can *only* pay through PayPal?
Also, she totally didn’t answer any of my questions about this mysterious colleague.
Then just now I got a new message from someone else:

i am interested in buying your item for my pastor daughter who is
currently celebrating her birthday in west africa, if you can mail to
explain the actual condition presently i am willing to offer $400 with
the shipping and handling , and get back to me with your Paypal e-mail
ID so that i can transfer your money to your paypal account as soon as
possible, Your urgent response will be highly appreciated.
Thanks and God bless vickkylizzy@in.com

Well, this is pretty much exactly the same format. Random girl with two first names and no last name, some very deserving gift recipient conveniently in another country, the offer of a lot more money than asked, and a request for PayPal. And you seriously expect me to believe that you’d rather pay $400 for me to send you an iPod than go to the Apple store or order it online for $200? Hmm!
(Yes, I am leaving her email addresses in hopes that spambots will spider her email address from here, spam her silly, and I will laugh as spam is pitted against scam.)
I am severely tempted to have some fun with these scammers. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at scambaiting, or a variant on Craigslisting. Or maybe I’ll just reply to these people and insist on more details. “Which diocese is your daughter a part of? Can she get me the pope’s autograph? Does her church support gay marriage? Does she condemn or condone the Westboro Baptists? What does she think about the nun who was excommunicated for saving a woman’s life? I won’t mail you the iPod until you ask her and answer these questions, you know.”
If I ask enough annoying questions will they just stop? What if I ask one of them for their PayPal ID and give it to the other one? Would I get in trouble if I gave “Vickky Lizzy’s” email to “Denise,” asked for “Denise’s” address, and mailed her an empty box with maybe a little note saying “Vickky Lizzy’s pastor daughter would like you to know that Jesus hates scammers”?
In any case, I don’t think I’ll be attempting to sell valuables on public forums again anytime soon.