was selling my new iPhone on craigslist for $150. This guy claiming to be a Dr. in Utah, offered me a hefty sum for the phone and asked me to ship it to his son who lives in Enugu, Nigeria. He told me it was a birthday present for his son and he was willing to pay double my asking price. He pressed the issue of urgency. He said he he could not pick it up because of his location and schedule and that he would send a money order through this company merchant express.
I received an email from Merchant express telling me that I had a money order waiting to be delivered to my front door as soon as I sent shipping confirmation. I checked out their website and it seemed legitimate at first. I was all ready to mail it to Nigeria and the two women behind the counter at the post office warned me about the scams happening in Nigeria, specifically with small electronics.
There is always supposedly money waiting for you, waiting for shipping confirmation, and when you give it to them, they are gone, and so is your money! I was ready to send it out! I had placed the small box on the counter and asked how much to send to Nigeria. They looked at me and said "Do you have your cash for that in your hand?" and I said "No," to which they said "it's a scam, don't do it." If it hadn't been for those ladies, I would be down and iPhone and they money I would have gotten for it.
"Dr. Briggs" gave me a sad story about the last guy not actually shipping his items after he sent money, and how another guy sent a broken laptop, etc. He said "pls lets trust each other". He is shameless!
After leaving the post office, I settled on a local buyer. I went home and re-examined the merchant express email, and I caught at least 10 typos and grammatical errors... and the guy gave me a phony zip code (of his own address in Utah)....He gave me 19809.. a zip in Delaware!!!! I feel so naive after finding this out!
Here were all of my red flags:
1) A buyer on Craigslist supposedly located in Utah, searching on the Albany, NY craigslist. That should have been enough for me....why would anyone in their right mind do that? I even checked out the craigslist in Salt Lake City, and of course, there were people selling their newly used iPhones. RED FLAG!
2) He offered more than double what I asked, and offered 170 for shipping costs. For the amount he was willing to pay, he could have gone onto Apple's website and bought a new one and had it shipped to his son himself.
3) His grammar was terrible. From all of the research I've done today, this is a definite red flag to know you are being scammed.
4) Merchant Express' website did NOT HAVE a money order icon. I searched on their site engine and checked the site map. It is a phony company with a convincing facade. There is a number, but you can't seem to get through. The email address that they use to mail you money order notification and ask you to reply to is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've been looking online all night, and this scam is prevalent. It is always Nigeria, and it is usually a birthday gift for a son. The name can be either English or African sounding. It is always set up through a money order given when shipping confirmation is sent, and they sometimes even use PayPal facades. I've read a number of stories that the scammer used a fraudulent paypal. This is tough, because paypal is clearly a legitimate company, so BEWARE! It should always work that the seller receives payment, then ships out the goods, NOT the other way around. If you have someone setting up a deal like that, be suspicious.
DO NOT FALL FOR THIS SCAM! I ALMOST DID!
Johnstown, New York