Interested in Tix on Craigslist? Buyer Beware! — On January 24, we heard from a 49-year old woman named Connie. (She’s given us permission to use her first name.) Connie was looking for Hamilton tickets in Boston, Massachusetts. Hamiton is a very popular show and tickets are hard to get. Not surprisingly, she said that the prices are fairly expensive if you look at the normal ticket sites like Stubhub and Ticketmaster. So she checked Craigslist to see if any were listed. On Craigslist, she said at least you don’t have to pay the processing fees. She did find some tickets that were in line with the prices on the major ticket sites. But there were also a couple of listings that looked suspicious because the post showed a different location outside of Massachusetts (red flag #1) and the ticket prices were far below anything she had seen elsewhere. (red flag #2). Connie said that orchestra seats were going for as much as $3600 on the regular sites and these couple of odd listings on Craigslist were going for around $100 to $200 each! She was suspicious but it was easy to text the number provided so she reached out for tickets offered for $100 to ask “are these tickets still available?” That was her undoing! Below is Connie’s story about what happened to her and what she should have noticed and done instead!
Connie heard nothing all morning from the number she texted but then, later in the afternoon, she received many rapid fire texts asking her if she still wanted the tickets. The texts, sometimes five in a row, were so demanding that Connie thought “who texts like this?” The person asked over and over… “do you want them?” “well?” She also thought this was suspicious but that didn’t stop her from engaging with this person. “I was lured by the temptation that I could buy these tickets for a pretty steep discount. So I kept corresponding with this person. As it turns out, the seller wanted to be paid via Venmo and then she would transfer the tickets to me.” Connie was already suspicious and thinking that if this person asked for any personal information from her, she was going to end this exchange because that was another big red flag! But she continued. (Below are just 2 screenshots of the text exchange with the seller whose phone number is 857-728-8059.)
Connie kept getting a ridiculous amount of texts from this seller and found it terribly annoying. “Did you buy them yet? Did you pay me?” She told us “who is this person? If it weren’t for the fact that she was selling the tickets so cheaply, I would have just blocked her! Her texts were that aggressive and super-annoying!” Finally, it came down to an agreement and the seller said “pay me via Venmo.”
NOTE: Venmo has a feature where you can pay as “Goods and Services” and this offers some payment protections:
However, most purchases made using Venmo do not qualify as sales through “goods and services.”
Oddly, the seller insisted that Connnie pay for each ticket separately. This turned out to be a good thing, as she says, because it limited her loss! She Venmo’d $100 to the seller, using the “Goods and Services” criteria (which took her some time to figure out HOW to do that). After sending the payment, Connie said “OK, now send me the ticket.” But she got no response. This person who kept harassing her about buying the tickets suddenly ghosted her! “Dead silence” she said, followed by “that’s not a good sign.” Connie was pretty certain that she was just scammed and all the warning signs she noticed, but ignored, were now front and center in her mind. The first thing she did was to document everything so she could submit this fraud to Venmo. She also kept reaching out to the seller via text “where’s my ticket?” “where’s my ticket?” to show Venmo that she was scammed and no ticket was sent, despite using Venmo to pay her $100.
Connie submitted a claim for the “Goods and Services” protection on Venmo and got a response immediately that an investigation was under way from their Payment and Protection services. Another red flag that Connie thought about, after the fact, was that she had offered to pay with Paypal because Paypal has much better fraud protection associated with money transfers. However, the seller told her she wouldn’t take Paypal, only Venmo or Zelle. Connie wondered… “why wouldn’t you take Paypal? Venmo is owned by Paypal after all!” [NOTE: Many online sources have confirmed that this is true. Paypal owns Venmo. For example: Wikipedia) Connie noted to us that “the interesting thing about Paypal is that you can cancel your payment if you pay the wrong person or simply want to cancel a payment shortly after it’s made. Whereas Venmo makes it clear… Once that payment goes out, you’re not covered. You can’t change your mind or undo a payment. That’s why I think the scammers use that!”
Venmo’s protection services are severely limited! In fact, this Help page on Venmo’s website says “Unless directly given the option by Venmo, DO NOT USE VENMO TO TRANSACT WITH PEOPLE YOU DON’T PERSONALLY KNOW, ESPECIALLY IF THE TRANSACTION INVOLVES THE PURCHASE OR SALE OF A GOOD OR SERVICE “
Connie continued to check Craigslist over the next few days for Hamliton tickets and saw several suspicious posts, like those below. She reached out to one of the sellers and he offered half price for the face value of BOTH tickets! “Who does that?” said Connie! Connie also commented that had she not just been scammed, she maybe would have considered it. But not anymore. Just to see what this new seller might say, Connie asked if she could pay for the tickets using Paypal. The seller said “no, I only take Venmo.” Connie told him he was CLEARLY a scammer because not only was he willing to sell the tickets at a quarter of the price but he also refused to take payment via Paypal.
Connie told us that the “moral of this story” is….
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is! Her fake tickets were significantly below what everyone else was selling them for.
- The rapid-fire texting pressure, along with poor English used in the texts, should have been another red flag
- The fact that they only accepted Venmo or Zelle, and not Paypal, was a major red flag
- The fact that the location listed on her seller’s Craigslist post is either outside of Massachusetts and/or the location listed is an address (city/town) that simply doesn’t exist, or doesn’t match the zip code for the real town/city. For example, the Craigslist posting that Connie responded to showed the seller was located in “Lake Elsinore” in California, but the map on the Craigslist post showed East Boston.
- Connie noted that she saw many signs of poor or awkward English. While this proves nothing about the legitimacy of a transaction, it should still be noted since most of the scams targeting Americans come from scammers in other countries where English is not their first language.
One other point that Connie lamented about her experience is that she usually asks for “proof of purchase” from a second-hand ticket seller online. When she asked this scammer for “proof of purchase” she sent her QR codes of the seat assignments. This is somewhat valid but not enough. She also asked both sellers of the Hamilton tickets “why are you selling these tickets so cheap?” The first replied that “she had to travel suddenly.” She got no answer from the second scammer. This is when the second scammer said “if you don’t like the price, then why not pay half!” Connie’s reply was “you just confirmed for me that you are a scammer!”
Connie told us this was just a $100 lesson for her (which she might recover because of paying through Venmo’s Goods and Services.) If she isn’t able to recover the $100 she sent, she told us “that’s my punishment for being stupid.” We don’t think she was stupid at all! In fact, we told her that she seemed savvy and observant! She saw ALL the red flags we would have pointed out. The problem is one of psychology. When you want something badly enough, and it is dangled in front of you like a shiny object, your emotions often override common sense. That’s what happened to Connie. Also, Connie told us that she’s only experienced one other scam, about 3 years ago. There were some red flags, she said, and she ignored her instincts and got taken advantage of. No doubt, it was about something she was very eager to acquire at a reasonable cost. Her emotions “got in the way” of her better judgment. She told us that she often sees through lots of scams that pour into her email inbox just by looking at the sender’s address. But this was different. And she’s still hoping to find tickets to Hamilton in Boston!
Top Netflix Scams of 2023 – Netflix is one of the companies scammers like to impersonate. Keep on reading to learn about some of the Netflix scams you need to watch out for this year. Check out the top 3 Netflix scams in 2023. Protect yourself with this FREE, all-in-one tool
Nigerian Fraud and More Liquor Store Fraud – Last week we wrote about emails and texts from friends or “friendly” people that are NOT what they appear to be. Afterall, online deception is so easy! Here’s another sent to us by a reader. It kind of qualifies because of the informal language and the fact that it comes from a personal email account, not a business account. Don’t respond to these traps!
We have often mentioned how the business office of a particular school has been heavily targeted by spear-phishing. Scammers, whom we believe are mostly located in Nigeria, have been sending emails to the DFO disguised as school employees. The spoofed emails are impossible to see as fraudulent, until you hit reply! All the business office staff have learned to “reply” and look carefully at the “TO” address. Check out this recent request sent from an “employee” requesting a change to her bank for automatic deposits….
Speaking of Nigerian fraud, check out this email sent to one of our readers from a Gmail account called “okpoko.k.okpoko.” It turns that that “okpoko” is Igbo (a language spoken in several African countries, including Nigeria) means window!
Our friend, and scambaiter, who uses the name @Whiskey recently told us about two more fake specialty online liquor stores. The are…
https://globalwhiskyline.com/ “Global Whiskey Online”
https://comprehensiveliquor.com “Comprehensive Liquore”
Scamadviser gives these businesses a “trust rating” of 1 out of 100! Check out Scamadviser’s rating for Global Whiskey Online. Buyer beware!
And finally, looking back on the last week, we saw a couple of very interesting articles that again speak loudly about the lack of privacy online! How easily do you provide your email address to businesses from whom you make purchases? It’s time to think differently about giving them your email address!
Also, as more and more companies are suffering data breaches of YOUR personal information, they are becoming less forthcoming about what exactly was stolen and informing consumers! Check out….
Paypal, Annual Invoice and Geek Squad – We apologize if this now seems repetitive but cybercriminals must be seeing huge success with this recent trick of using the legitimate Paypal service to send scammer’s emails to potential victims. They create a Paypal account and send a fake invoice to people. HOWEVER, they make the “Notes” field look as though it is a real statement from Paypal, rather than from the scammer. These have exploded in number in recent weeks. Now we have a new twist to this smelly phish… The scammers have created a Paypal account using the name “Support Team.” This means the message you receive from Paypal actually says that it comes from Support Team! Here’s an example of this new clever twist….
There are sooooo many things wrong with this email, like the fact that there is no such business as “Ramon Security” or that the email came from timesolv[.]com or that “Bradcom Services” says on their website that they specialize in repair of “Out of Warranty” Commercial and Amateur radio products! Or that a search for 818-934-4341 ONLY turns up websites in Turkey! Don’t believe this malarky!
Another trick routinely used in some phishing scams is to send the fraudulent phishing email TO the business that it claims to represent! Scammers hope that recipients (who’s email was entered into the BCC field) may see the REAL email address and think that this email is therefore legitimate! Even though the FROM address is a complete fraud, like this email from “comtesxrtc” at Gmail. Lunge for the delete key!
Top 10 Influential Women Leaders – Vanity Scam? – A vanity scam, by definition, is when a business or person receives some type of award by a website or organization, and is then asked to pay for something related to that award. For example, he or she may be asked to purchase a publication or magazine listing the awarded individuals or, as in the case below, to purchase a profile to be included on the awarding website. We received the email below from a woman who has worked at a business for many years. Just last week, the “editorial board” of a domain called iera-womenleaders[.]com contacted her to say that she had been chosen to be featured as “Top 10 Influential Women Leaders of 2023.” Exciting, right? This honor was to include an article about her, her firm and its culture, blah, blah, blah. But to receive this honor and supporting article, she had to pay $1800!
That sure sounds like a vanity scam in our opinion! In March, 2019, a writer named Claudia Perlich published an article on LinkedIn.com about a vanity scam that appears to be nearly identical to this one! However, most interesting is what some women posted in the comments at the bottom of this article:
For example, in December, 2022, Katie McGarr posted the following comment:
“I get this email every year, from Victor Jones. This year from “Top 10 Inspiring Women Leaders of 2022” by the editorial board of Industry Era Women Leaders Magazine. This year the amount of emails has gotten to a new high.” And other women made similar comments as well!
The Better Business Bureau has posted an excellent article about vanity scams here. Amongst their many tips, they tell readers to check for “payment requirements” adding “most legitimate awards do not come with costs to the recipient.” The BBB also says to “Research the award. Check out the company’s BBB Business Profile at BBB.org to ensure that the offer is legitimate.” We tried to do that for Industry Era Women Leaders in various ways on BBB.org but found no such business listed on their website. In 2022, several other women reported receiving nearly identical emails and awards. They posted their opinions about these “awards” on Scampulse.com! In 2021, a woman named Sarah Payne also posted a very similar experience that targeted someone with whom she worked. Ms. Payne is a marketing coordinator and describes very clearly why it makes no sense to purchase this “award.” Our advice to the email recipient is to say NO, THANK YOU!
The Daily Scam has posted several articles in the past decade about vanity scams.
Beware Attached Files and Fedex Delivery Notices – We continue to see an increased number of VERY malicious emails with attached files targeting us at The Daily Scam. For this first example, which was sent from an electric company in Japan, we decided to peak under the hood and look at the coding of the attached file called “Account_statementPDF[.]htm. Notice that the sender wants us to think that the file is a “PDF” file. However, after the DOT comes “htm” meaning that this file is web file that gives directions to a web browser.
Looking under the hood into the code of this file, we discovered that the sender specifically targeted Doug at The Daily Scam and the code appears to be a phishing scam hidden on a website in Brazil that is a shoe store called MayShoesStore.com[.]br. HOWEVER, when we sent a bot to visit this Brazilian link and return a picture of the site, the bot was redirected to Google. This usually means that the visitor is hit with malware and then sent on to another website, often Google, which leads them to think that nothing bad happened. Either way, we know we dodged a nasty bullet!
Here’s another example of a malicious html file attached to an email. The sender states that the attached file was “proof of payment paid to your bank account.” Poppycock! This is social engineering meant to trick the soon-to-be victim to click a dangerous file. Just delete and be thankful you did!
We have also been seeing LOTS of malicious emails disguised as Fedex (and UPS and DHL) delivery services. This example came from a VERY malicious website that we’ve seen many times before, called kodehexa[.]net. We reported on this dangerous website in newsletters from August, November and December of 2022! The links in this clickbait misuse the Googleapis services! At least 3 security services have found that link to be malicious. Deeeleeeete!
Take Action on Your Paypal Account and HR Department Told Me… –This text message is bizarre…. Supposedly, Paypal is telling you that “we’ve been noticing that you’ve been using your Paypal account in a questionable manner.” Seriously? The crazy link they offer in the text may BEGIN WITH paypal.com but doesn’t end there! This is a NOT a link to paypal.com! Step off the ledge!
One of our readers sent us this weird text, and saying that he has no idea what the heck it means, but it didn’t come from his HR Department. Googling the phone number used to send this text only shows you malicious websites in Turkey. That tells you everything you need to know about this nonsense. Delete!
Until next week, surf safely!
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