Tag Archive | "scams"

Scam Alert: The Hotel Reservation Scam

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I recently received several emails purportedly from Booking.com, a reputable reservations booking site on the Web (see email image below).  Having not booked a hotel reservation, I would normally simply delete this email.  However, I was struck by the warning that a cancellation or prepayment penalty of $195 would be billed to my credit card and tempted to click on the link provided in the email.


I’m glad I didn’t.  I did a little research and discovered that these emails represent a very widespread scam.  The scam can work in one of two ways – either with an email attachment or a link within the email.  In each instance, whether a phishing expedition or a Trojan attack or both, the result can be potentially devastating for users with sensitive information on their computers.


Malware attacks are on the rise and computer users should be on guard against them.  However, even the most security savvy among us may – in a moment of weakness – click a link or open an attachment that we will come to regret.


Of course, a close look at the email provides us telltale signs that this email is not legitimate.  Take a look at some of the grammar in the email like “The hotel Arriva Hotel” and “does the expiration date of the card finish until the date arrival registration.”  Also, misuse of punctuation can be indicative of malicious intent, such as the word “shouldnt” without the apostrophe and the “195$” prepayment penalty with the dollar sign following the amount (not typical of an American establishment).


Should you receive an email similar to the one below, or any email of which you are uncertain, do not open any attachments or click any links within the suspicious email.  You may be saving yourself from the consequences including identity theft, credit card fraud,  or costly computer repairs.



A Disturbing New Email Scam

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I have gotten quite accustomed to scams perpetrated via email.  For a number of years now, I have received notifications almost daily that I have won any number of lotteries (the Microsoft Lottery being the most frequent).  Additionally, I have been inundated by barristers (that’s lawyers to those of you unfamiliar with the nomenclature for attorneys used in merry old England) informing me that I am the sole heir of some incredibly wealthy person to whom I am either related or not related and of whom I have no knowledge.  And then there are the emails offering me seemingly lucrative opportunities working as an agent for foreign companies.  All I need do, they say, is deposit allegedly certified checks they receive in this country and wire them 90% of their value.  Or, I could pay a ridiculously large shipping charge to receive a parcel containing a large check or something else of considerable value.  Of course, if I were foolish enough to follow through on any of these seeming easy money opportunities, I would pay a price for my greed.

There’s a new email scam, however, circulating through cyberspace that will exact a price not for greed, but for altruism.  Yesterday, I received the following email:


I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, my family and I came over here to North Wales, United Kingdom for a short vacation. unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed, all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us. 

We’ve been to the Embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financial assistance. Please, Let me know if you can help us out? 

Am very worried at the moment!! 


Now, if Dennis (who is actually an area radio personality) were actually someone that was a relative or good friend, I might have been tempted to respond to this email to get more information.  As it was, however, the fact that someone with whom I corresponded but one time was purportedly reaching out to me, a virtual stranger, for assistance was my first clue that this was but another in a long litany of scams perpetrated on the Internet.  Yet, if you received this email from a good friend or a close relative, would you be tempted to help?

Apparently, someone had hijacked Dennis’ email account (the email came from Dennis’ actual hotmail address) and sent this message to everyone listed as a contact in hopes of duping one or more individuals to reply and ultimately wire money. 

The moral of this story is not to allow yourself to fall victim to this or any other Internet scam.  If you are contacted by email, instant message, or any other online communication, verify the person with whom you are communicating via another channel, and by no means ever send any money based solely on an Internet communication. 

Auto Buyers: Beware the Craigslist Used Car Scam!

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Searching for a used car?  Don’t fall prey to a scam that is rampant on Craigslist, the popular network of online communities featuring free online classified advertisements.

The opportunity to advertise products and services for free has made Craigslist a highly desirable marketplace for everything from real estate to electronics, toys, collectibles, and jobs.  Because the ads are free of charge and editorial scrutiny in the vast majority of the Craigslist communities, it is the perfect venue to perpetrate scams and other nefarious activities.

You might recall the flap over promotion and solicitation of prostitution via advertising on Craigslist.  While prostitution is often considered a victimless crime, other activities on the website can cost you dearly.  Identity thieves, those seeking to sell you various work-at-home and multi-level marketing schemes, and yet others looking to defraud you outright lurk in every corner of Craigslist.

This latter group includes the particular form of scamming of which I have recently become cognizant.  Using the Web to search for a used car on various sites, I perused Craigslist and discovered a number of amazing deals on vehicles that had relatively low mileage and were purported to be in “mint” or “perfect” condition.  Included among these were a 2006 Nissan Maxima for $2,900, a 2003 Acura RSX for $3,300, a 2005 Toyota Corolla for $2,740, and a 2008 Honda Accord for $3,400.  The advertisements for each of these cars had numerous pictures of various interior and exterior views and detailed descriptive information.  They all required you to send an email to the presumed owner for more information.

I sent emails requesting information on these vehicles and received the following responses:

For the Nissan –


This 2006 NISSAN MAXIMA SE SEDAN is in perfect working condition. Title Clear. My husband was recently promoted so we had to move in Omaha, Nebraska. We brought the car with us, but my husband received a new car from the company. Besides, there are a lot of things which have priority now, so, this car has to go. As you probably noticed, the price is rather low $2900 because i want to find quickly a buyer. Due to the fact I am very busy with my work and I don’t stay too much at home, the car is already to the shipping company and will be delivered from there very fast. If you are interested, please email me with your details (name and address) for the shipping process.
Mileage:  65,600 miles




I will make the deal only to eBay. I am a member of the eBay buyer protection program and using this service you will get a 7 days testing period after delivery. During that 7 days testing period I will not be getting any money. I need to know if you are interested in buying it so I can ask eBay to send you the details on how this works. If interested please include in your next email your contact info for eBay (name, address and #) so we can get things started. The price is $2900 with all the taxes and charges of the shipping process included.
Here is some pics with my car:
Link Removed.

Thanks.  Miranda Carle


For the Acura –

Hi there, Thank you so much for contacting me regarding my 2003 Acura RSX. The car has 67,611 miles is in perfect condition without any mechanical problems, tires and wheels are in great shape as well, electric is working perfectly, has a clean and clear US title without any accidents. No liens or loans on the it. Never had any paint or body work done. The engine and equipment are all in proper working order. The price is $3300.I am selling the car because of the financial crises that affected me in the same measure it affected the most inhabitants of this country. I’m in a hurry to find a buyer because I’m in debts with my bank and a few days ago I was made to work. But what it’s really worrying me is that if I don’t get money quickly I’ll lose my house because the term due at my bank is near and I don’t have the money to pay my rate. So now you can see the reason why I’m selling my car at $3300$.We will use only eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection to complete the sale. If you are interested to buy email me your full name and shipping address so I can open the case with eBay.
Kasie Ragsdale


For the Toyota –

First of all I want to thank you for your interest for my car. I sell it at this price($2,740.00 ) because I have been divorced recently and I don’t have a driver license.

Now the car is in my property.This car is in excellent working conditions, no scratches, 

flaws or any kind of damage, slightly used in 100% working and looking conditions and comes with a clear title.

From the beginning you have to know that for the payment I request only secure pay, I prefer the payment to be done using eBay services. 

We will use a safe payment method because I am affiliated at eBay and I have a purchase protection account for $20,000.00


The final price that I want for this car is $2,740.00 including shipping and handling.


If you are interested in buying it please provide me your full name and address so I can initiate the deal through eBay.


I will wait your answer very soon.



Vanessa Ferguson


Hi again,


The car is already at the shipping company in Orlando, Florida sealed and ready for the shipping. 

I have a contract with eBay so this deal must go through them. I’m very busy with my job and I’m getting off the town so I can’t meet 

in person with you so this is the reason why I chose to sell my car over the internet. According with  the eBay you have 5 days 

from the time you receive the car to inspect it and decide if you want to keep it or not.

Here is how it will work:

1.First of all I will need  the following details from you:

– Full Name

– Full Shipping Address

– Phone #

2. After I will receive the details from you, I will forward them to eBay.

3. After they will process your info, they will send us both invoices. The invoice will send you the details on how to make a refundable payment.

4. eBay will contact me and I will ship the car to you. After you receive the car you will have 5 days to test, verify and do whatever you need with the car. 

If you will buy, then I will receive the payment details from eBay so that I can pick up the money.

5. If you will decide that you will not buy the car,  eBay will refund the money and I will have the shipping company come pick up my car.

If you wish to make the transaction, please send me the necessary info so  we can proceed. I look forward to hear from you.


Thank you

For the Honda –

First of all i want to thank you for your interest in my vehicle.
I am selling this vehicle because I am being dispatched to the Gulf of Aden and i must sell it before Jun 4th.
The vehicle is in perfect condition, it has no damage, no scratches or dents, no hidden defects.I must add it was never involved in any accidents and has a clear, clean title
The car is in Billings MT area and in case it gets sold I will take care of shipping.
Let me know if you are interested, email back.
2008 Honda Accord Price $3400
VIN:  1hgcs12838a025823
Mileage:  36,401 miles
Body type:  Coupe Engine:  4 Cylinder 2.4 Liter Exterior color:  Red
Transmission:  Automatic Fuel type:  Gasoline Interior color:  Black


Thanks for your reply.
As i told you i am stuck here in the military company and i have restrictions in communicating due to the medical and physical exams that i have to complete.
The vehicle will arrive with a military cargo so that is why i can offer free shipping.
I am a member of the eBay buyer protection program and using this service you will get a 3 days testing period after delivery. During those 3 days of testing period I will not be
getting any money. I need to know if you are interested so I can ask eBay to send you the details on this deal. If interested please include in your next email your contact info for
eBay, full name and  shipping address so we can proceed.
Hope we will do business together.

Best Regards,


Robin Faller

Note that although these ads were placed in the “Central New Jersey” Craigslist community, each vehicle is in a distant location and in the possession of some type of shipping or holding company.  In each instance, there is a compelling reason given for the surprisingly low asking price (military reasons seem to predominate).  All of the responses are sent from an email address bearing a female name (presumably, they know less about autos and would sell one for less than half its true value).  All of these sellers indicate that they will bear shipping costs for delivery and, if necessary, return of their vehicles (scammers do have their generous side).  And, the signature similarity of all of these responses is that they purport to use some type of eBay buyer protection service.  While eBay does offer certain protections, there are numerous conditions and exclusions, and it offers no such services as described in these correspondences.

If you do provide the information that these scammers are seeking, I surmise that you would be contacted by someone falsely representing himself as a representative of eBay to facilitate transfer of the purchase amount and assure you that no funds will be distributed to the seller until you have received and had the opportunity to fully inspect and test the vehicle.  How long you would await delivery of your automobile before realizing you had been scammed and contacting law enforcement (who would be unable to assist you) would vary depending upon your individual level of gullibility (from incredibly gullible to unconscious).

Needless to say, the old adage that “if something appears too good to be true, it probably is” has once again proven accurate.  If you are a used car shopper, save yourself the aggravation and deal only with reliable sources of online information.

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