The Tale of Fortune Jimmy: A PayPal scam
Our friend Jimmy Fortune is a country singer from the United States.
However, Fortune Jimmy is not our friend, nor his alter-ego, but is a scammer from Nigeria.
I haven’t posted anything in about a week, but that’s just to say I’ve been too tired to write about the funny things that have happened… A couple of weeks ago, though, I made a pretty bad impulse buy. I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note. I thought I’d be in love with it. I thought it would be amazing. I was pretty much wrong, of course. It’s about the size of my little red notebook that I carry around daily, and way too big for my tiny hands. Sure, it comes with a stylus, and it’s a super fast, awesome phone, but it’s just not practical for me especially when I still adore writing in a traditional notebook. Gorgeous, gorgeous phone, but just not fitted for me. It sticks out of my pocket.
I decided to sell it on eBay. With a day left to go, someone purchased my phone. I was pretty surprised. The person requested an invoice for payment, so I sent one a few hours later, when I was on the train on the way home. They requested I send an email as well, so I sent them an email letting them know I had sent the invoice. They had mentioned that they were in New Caledonia at the moment and wanted the item shipped to Western Australia. Fair enough – I just sat and waited for the payment.
That night – well, it was past midnight and I was doing that silly thing where I spent a couple of hours on eBay just shopping (bad, bad Georgie, someone needs to stop me)… I got an email from eBay saying that my listing had been removed because the buyer’s account was hacked. I thought it was suspicious, and I assumed that the person who had agreed to purchase the phone probably changed their mind. Immediately, I hit up eBay and told them my side of the story, and how I believe the person was just trying to get out paying for the item.
I didn’t hear from them 24 hours later, and now I know why.
About two days later, I received an email from the person who had agreed to buy my item on eBay, named Kayla.
I apologize for not contacting you immediately i won your auction item on eBay. I am very happy about the purchase . My daughter had to log on to my eBay account to view the purchase, she was also happy with it. But eBay had thought it was a third party due to their over zealousness. they decided to protect us both.
The issues with my account have now been resolved and confirmed by eBay.
I precisely purchased the item on behalf of a folk of mine in Nigeria who has been transferred to serve as a missionary in Nigeria.I will be leaving for New Zealand for a program I’m seeking your help in getting the item posted to him in Nigeria.
I have sorted out the postage costs on the Fed ex website and i will be adding it accordingly to the costs of the item and i want it posted via Fed ex courier service.
Here Is the postage address
8 Joel Dunmade Street,
I will pay immediately.
I also received an email from PayPal that notified me about receiving $780 in my PayPal account. I didn’t receive any response from eBay. I checked my email and logged into my eBay account but I hadn’t received any messages regarding the matter. I didn’t really think much of it, but thought about how crazy it was that the person wanted to buy this phone and have it shipped there. I also found it strange that this woman was going to be in New Zealand when she said that she was in New Caledonia. Regardless, I decided to check my PayPal account and see the glorious sum that I had just earned.
It wasn’t there.
I flicked back to the email and looked at the sender address.
I forwarded the email to PayPal to let them deal with it, and responded to Kayla with a blunt “I will post the item when the money arrives in my PayPal account”. Of course, I counterbalanced it with an appropriate greeting (addressing her name) and farewell.
I was on the train to work at this point and James and I were peering over the situation with the help of my iPad. A quick Google search informed us that PayPal does not accept Nigerian addresses, and that someone else had been in a similar situation, but had fell victim to another one of Fortune Jimmy’s evil team. This person had posted a question on Yahoo Answers asking how Fedex would be able to pick up an iPhone to send to Nigeria. A top contributor posted a warning about PayPal not accepting Nigerian addresses, and the popularity of such a scam – and was dubiously ignored.
It wasn’t until later that I discovered a series of emails from eBay that had landed in my spam box, and realised these were sent from a fake eBay email address. They outlined that my issue with my eBay listing was resolved, and the usual “Your registered name is included to show this message originated from eBay” was also included. My name was nowhere to be found, and the obvious “Dear (Seller)” in one email prompted me to cough up my lungs in an attempt to laugh. I must say, the sore throat I’ve developed over the past two days has just been horrible to deal with.
Thankfully, today James boiled up a lovely (or maybe not that great-tasting) concoction of tomato juice, garlic, lemon juice, and chili. A mug swirling with vitamin C and exceptionally good nutrients that would clear up my throat. We sat on the sofa in my office and laughed over the more recent spoof emails I received.
One was from PayPal, riddled with atrocious grammar, obviously as a result of my email to “Kayla”:
This is a message from PayPal to further confirm to you that payment for the item purchased on eBay has been received and confirmed by eBay. The buyer of your eBay Item have therefore completed her part of the transaction since transferring payment for the item.
This payment is currently reflecting on our database and is yet to be credited into your account due to security reasons. You will therefore be required to post the item off to the address indicated on the PayPal receipt as outlined by the buyer:
8 Joel Dunmade
Street, Lawanson Surulere,
Please note that the above address have been PayPal Verified and eBay Verified. Ship out the item today and email us with the shipment reference number for verification of shipment after which we will credit your account instantly after completion of the shipment verification.
I also received the following from our spoof friend eBay:
We would like you to understand that we had been contacted by PayPal confirming payment has been deducted from the buyer account and they await the shipping tracking number or the shipment receipt before remittance of payment is EFFECTIVE. We would also like to re-assure with the safety of this transaction that your payment will be transferred into your PayPal account after verification of payment and confirmation that the item has been posted to given address in Nigeria.
Therefore, We mail to instruct you to kindly make the postage of the item to its recipient and get back to PayPal with the shipment tracking number or the shipment receipt for an immediate remittance of your payment into your PayPal account as soon as the shipment has been verified.
Make sure the item is sent out today and the shipment tracking details to PayPal for confirmation. Item should be shipped using Australia Seamail Or Airmail.
The shipment tracking number or reference number can be found of the receipt you will be issued by the Australia Seamail Or Airmail after posting out the item. If there’s no shipment reference number on the receipt, you will be required to email a scanned copy of the receipt to PayPal or a digital camera snapshot of the receipt.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation in this matter. Please don’t hesitate to reply to this email if you have further queries or require assistance.
None of these were personally addressed to me, and were sent from email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org – definitely not associated with eBay at all. With legitimate subject lines such as Payment Assurance – Payment Verified and Item no.261047364975 -Notification Of an instant payment received from chergenta1105, it would be so easy for anyone to fall victim to such a scam. eBay and PayPal both address you by your full name when they send you emails, and their emails will come from an address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those two things, together, are not able to be received from anyone but PayPal or eBay.
I sent my new batch of emails to eBay and PayPal for review, knowing that they would take matters from there. Not feeling my part was complete, I could not help but respond to the spoof email address with the following, after considering the ridiculous statements claimed by the scammer in their fake emails:
I will post the item once I receive payment in my PayPal account – not after shipment verification. The rules of my listing said that I would ship once payment was cleared. If there was a security problem and it has been cleared, the money should be in my account.
Is there an alternate address to ship to? I have just discovered that no Nigerian addresses are verified by PayPal.
I wonder how far they’ll go. I’m not your average Jill who isn’t familiar with the internet… heck, I totally am familiar with the internet.
Sorry Fortune Jimmy, but you’re not getting me now.