PayPal Scam – True Story

Scam artistI was lured into a scam but escaped narrowly.

I write this post to expose a scam that someone had tried to lure me into. In this post I will describe in detail what transpired and what happened until I realized it was a scam. This is not going to be a baseless story. I have evidence, in form of screen shots, Facebook messages and the greatest evidence A VIDEO SHOWING YOU HOW I RECEIVED THE MONEY AND ME RETURNING IT EVERY SINGLE DIME. I wrote a similar story about whether to use OLX and online classifieds, and gave advice on how to protect yourself. I will provide necessary evidence and even conversation between me and the scam artist. I will hide sensitive information that belongs to the clients, but expose everything that I possibly can about this scam artist.

 

How it begun

We have several groups on Facebook where people post ads, sell stuff and much more. So this person by the name Briana C. Jones (the link to her Facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/zeba.ali.127) posted an add in the facebook group “KENYA ONLINE ENTREPRENEURS- PAYZA.PAYPAL. STP. PM.SKRILL AVAILABLE” (link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/papaavirtualservices/) saying that “she” is looking for someone with a verified PayPal account and that “she” will give the person 20% per every transaction.”She” posted the post on Friday at around 01 00 hrs (GMT+3). I tried to look for the post but apparently I could not find it, it must have been deleted. I replied to the post saying that am interested. I also quickly added “her” as a friend on Facebook.

We then almost immediately started talking via Facebook messages. “She” was then telling me terms of the deal and how it would go down. “She” told me that she lives in Pakistan and that “She” is not able to receive payments from certain clients. “She” said “she” provides SEO/SEM services. I was to receive the payments on “her” behalf, then subtract 20% which was she offered and then send her the rest. (Sounds quite lucrative huh? and indeed it was, keep reading)

I did a very simple security test, nothing serious. I asked “her” to tell me the current time in Pakistan. Well “she” got it right, and “she” responded immediately. For someone who was willing to trust me with “her” money (the payments), she wasn’t really asking me questions about the security money and whether i will be honest to deliver. Then she went ahead and asked me if my PayPal account has any money at the moment. I replied no, then she went to ask me to give her my PayPal password. Definitely there is no way am going to let someone else control my verified PayPal account. She then agreed that I just give her my PayPal account email, and that I be the one to accept the PayPal Payments for her. I gave her my personal account (not ItechJungle’s PayPal account as the deal sounded too sweet too be true and I did not want my clients who use my PayPal services to be affected in case that PayPal account gets suspended or has any issues). She then also gave me “her” PayPal account where I would be sending Payments to her.

So after giving “her” my PayPal account I was expecting more questions from “her” about me and my services but they were not forthcoming. It seemed more like I am the one who wants to prove to “her” that am genuine yet she was not interested “herself”. So I decided out of my own involution to show her that am trust worthy and to also verify that she has access to the PayPal account “she” gave me; I told “her” that I will send her some money and I want “her” to tell me how much I sent  and then for her to refund it. That operation went smoothly.

 

Business deal SEALED

At around 02 30 hrs (GMT+3) the conversation ended well in a good note. The Facebook conversation was quite lengthy. During the conversation “she” gave me her Skype user name, upon my request as well; so as to enhance better communication. I sent “her” a request “she” then accepted. Up to now some of you readers are wondering why the words “her” and “she” are in quotes?? Here is the reason…

It is from “her” Skype account that will explain why the word “her” is in quotes. On her skype profile “her” gender was male. That rang a clear red flag. Then to visit her Facebook profile  Briana C. Jones (the link to her Facebook profile https://www.facebook.com/zeba.ali.127), I noticed on the url after “facebook.com” the name that follows really looks like a masculine name. So then I wondered why “she” would be female on their Facebook page. “Her” profile even has pictures of “her”, some are a bit too explicit. I decided to ignore that as I was quite happy I got myself a good business deal. So I slept, and ended the day a happy man, knowing I have sealed a very good deal.

When I woke up, and checked my email, I found notifications from PayPal. Not bad notification. The notifications were telling me that Payments have been received. The deal was actually happening. However when I saw the PayPal transaction details it shows payments are coming from Jeans online. I wondered, since I was expecting payments for SEO/SEM work. I asked him about the payments, he did not reply. I tried using Skype he did not reply. I even sent him an email, no response. His silence made me wonder what kind of person is this that trusts you with their money and are not willing to respond to updates. He later responded, and gave so many excuses but I let them slide; however my guard was now raised and I became really cautious. I went and checked her profile and found a post about this website http://jeansonlineshopping.com (THE SCAM WEBSITE)

So on Sunday one client decided to email me and ask me about their order, as it was not marked shipped. The client went to the extent of raising a dispute with PayPal. I did not act on the dispute immediately as i wanted to get communication first from “Briana”. “She” later sent me a message (on Facebook). We had a lengthy conversation and used that opportunity to ask her several questions. It was from that facebook conversation that “she” told me she is male, and that it’s my fault that i did not bother to find out whether she was male or female. She then told me to refund the client (who had raised a dispute), because the item was unavailable. She said she communicates with the clients but I highly doubted that.

The wise thing I did, is that I had not released the funds to “Briana”. I still had the full amount in my PayPal account. I decided to email all clients and ask them certain questions about the website, and how their purchase went. The ones who replied were really skeptical and told me that they received no communication from the website. “Briana” had told me that “she” ships the items in 6-7 days. I was able to convince some clients to be patient and that after 10 days if they have not received their item, I will personally refund them the money. I explained who I am and my affiliation to the website http://jeansonlineshopping.com (that I just receive payments nothing more). Some clients were understanding and agreed to wait the 10 days.

 

What I discovered

So I took my time and did a simple Google search. You can be surprised how helpful a Google search can be. On searching “jeans online shopping” I found this forum about customers who had purchased from jeans online but did not receive their item. The article can be found on this link (http://www.scamwarners.com ). I decided to check the website if it has an SSL certificate. SSL certificates show that a site is secure for inputting details and carrying out transactions. The easiest way to find out if a website has an SSL certificate is to try and access a web page and put the letter “S” after “http”. For example if you try to access any webpage on this website eg http://itechjungle.com, it will open, so you add “s” to http, then it becomes https://itechjungle.com . If a site has an SSL certificate it will load properly. You can try it with Itechjungle by clicking this link https://itechjungle.com . ItechJungle has an ssl certificate and hence the website will load. However when you do the same with https://jeansonlineshopping.com it gives you an error that it’s not secure. If you are using  Google chrome and you click proceed, the website will not load. This shows the website doesn’t have an SSL certificate.

Further research shows the website was registered on 7th march 2013, and the site has a whois guard protection. Whois guard protection is a guard that site owners get for their domain names to hide details about them (the owner of the domain). A reputable organization that deals with online transactions should not hide details about themselves. The whois details for this website can be viewed by following this link http://whois.net/whois/jeansonlineshopping.com . You will notice the site has a whois guard.

 

How they lure you to buy from them

While talking to some of the clients I realized how they get buyers is by offering things that are out of stock from the reputable online clothing stores out there. On their website everything is available and for all sizes. If you did not find the outfit you wanted from another website, then you will definitely find it here, you will want to purchase from them immediately for fear of the item being out of stock on that website as well.  The website is really professional and doesn’t look like a scam. I even tried using the website and everything works like clock-work. You can not smell SCAM from that website even if it was staring at you right in the face. Scam artists are becoming so clever.

Some of the outfits are quite expensive, hence the scam can make a kill just from selling a few items. For instance from the transactions that were carried out 16 clients made payments to my PayPal account which totaled to over 2000 USD. That is about 1400 pounds; or 165,000 Kenya shillings. (if you doubt, there is a video to proof all this)

 

What convinced me it was a scam?

On Tuesday 22nd October “Briana” and I had a lengthy conversation. I sent her a statement of account showing her all the transactions. (I keep records for every transaction that I am involved in). We confirmed the total amount of money, and everything was in sync. The problem came when she told me to send her the money. I told her, I cannot do that, as I have talked to the clients and gave my word that their money is safe. I told the clients that I will not release the funds to jeans online until I receive confirmation of an item being shipped or them receiving the item. That was how the clients was able to trust me. However “Briana” tried hard to convince me to send her 50% of the money. He said that he needs to purchase new items, and he cannot use his own money. Then I wondered, what is a business? For you to have a business from time to time you will be required to pump in your own money. She tried to convince me but I refused. There was one client who bought an item worth 275 pounds. I told him since that was the biggest purchase that she delivers the item to that client then I can send her the money. He refused.

Clearly his plan was to leave me stranded and in problems: I was to send her the money and be left having issues with clients and PayPal.

 

How it resolved

I told “Briana” that if he cannot deliver an item, then I am more convinced that he is a scam. I told him I will not be party to any scam transaction and if he can’t deliver even one item, then I shall refund all clients and expose him and that scam website jeansonlineshopping.com . She told me I refund the clients, and I agreed. That was on 22nd October 2013. I was a bit busy on my side, and i wanted to show you live through a video as i refunded the clients, and today 24th October is when I refunded the clients (as shown by the video below) and explained to the clients what happened.

 

Lessons learnt

  1. We should be moral and not accept to be party of illegal deals. It’s not right to scam people out of their hard earned money.
  2. If a deal sounds too good to be true, then probably it isn’t true.
  3. When you are making purchases online, make sure you do some research on the website, especially if it’s a new service that you are using.
  4. We should always be vigilant and extra careful. Keep yourself safe from online theft.
  5. If you find one item out of stock in many places (online) and then it’s found in one place, think twice about it.
  6. AGAIN AND AGAIN IF THE DEALS SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, THEN IT PROBABLY ISN’T TRUE.

 

Morals and Standards

We are all humans. For a moment there was this voice in my head that was telling me, “Just withdraw that PayPal money and go get yourself that TVS apache motor bike from CMG motors in Nairobi that you have wanted for a long time. You already have enough mone.”  True the temptation was there, but it’s all in the mind and your morals. My morals would not allow me to use money that did not rightfully belong to me. I would not want to scam people out of their hard earned cash. I believe in God as the supreme creator, and God promises that with hard work, humility, diligence and honesty you will emerge victorious and successful. I had over 2000 dollars in my PayPal account but I returned it all to the rightful clients. Who knows I will probably get much more than that 2000, or maybe I will not but at least I will have a clear conscience  knowing that I did the right thing, and I left those 16 clients satisfied that they did not lose their money.

Four different kinds of Evidence

1. My personal records of the transactions and total amounts: Click here to View them.

 

2. Complete conversation between me and Briana: Click here to view them.

 

3. Pictures: shown below

pics

 

4. Video showing my PayPal account live going from over 2000 dollars to 0 dollars.

Video available on Youtube. You can As well watch the video on Youtube. Click here.

 

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