Below is the most convoluted hoax I have ever come across. I almost fell for for it, I really need a computer. But my instinct said something wasn't right. This scam involves an iBook computer, Western Union and a fake shipping company called Express TNT.
I found an ad on craigslist New Jersey for a 12" Apple ibook, G4 1.33 GHz Power PC with OS X Tiger. The ad claimed that it was 14 months old with 22 months left on the Apple Care warranty. The price was $400.
I contacted the seller, one Sarah Beswick. She claimed that she had just moved from central New Jersey to Manchester UK, but that she still had the computer and hoped I would buy it. She sent me pictures and told me about a third party transaction/shipping company who would take care of getting the computer to me in the US.
Here is the text from one of her messages:
"Sarah Beswick :> > >> > Hello I will pay for a 2 days delivery so you will> > receive the laptop within 3-4 days.Obviously we need a> > safe way to complete this deal that will allow us to make> > sure we receive what we are after. I have found a way for> > us to complete the deal safely and fast, and in this way> > you will receive the laptop in less than 3 days, if you> > move fast as well. The solution is provided by a> > worldwide delivery company called TNT. TNT is similar to> > Fedex, DHL or UPS and they will provide assistance in> > hadling the payment and delivery of the laptop. With this> > procedure you will have the change to test the laptop> > before I receive my payment. The procedure is explained> > on the TNT webpage and please click on the link below to> > the TNT website to see how we can complete the deal> > safely and fast directly from the website of the company.> > http://globalfreight-tpg.com/en_lang/index/details.html> > Let me know SarahSarah BeswickDIXON & beswick 18 Buxton> > RoadWest Disley, ManchesterSSK12 2AE0141 416 3090"
I hope the readers notice the mispellings, poor grammar and crazy formatting. This is a clue that something was not right.
Here is the text of the package confirmation e-mail from the fake shipping company, express-tnt.com:
"TNT Express Package Confirmation and Payment Request Form
TNT reduces risks associated with Internet transactions by acting as a licensed, trusted, neutral third party for online transactions. The Seller leaves the merchandise in TNT custody. The merchandise will remain in TNT custody until the Buyer send's the payment to TNT following the instructions received from TNT. The Payment will be made through Wire Transfer, Money Order Service or Bank to Bank Money Transfer. Once the funds are received by TNT, the merchandise will be sent to the Buyer. Once the Buyer receives the merchandise, the Payment will be released to the Seller, but only if the Buyer is completely satisfied with the merchandise. If the Buyer will not be satisfied with the merchandise, TNT will send the merchandise back to the Seller and the Buyer will be refunded by TNT.
This package was processed on a TNT OnLine compatible shipping system.For TNT support regarding any questions please contact us at TNT On-Line Customer Service
Through this e-mail we have the pleasure to inform you that the merchandise has been left in our custody. The shipping fee was paid by the Seller. The Payment Information (in this case about the Western Union Money Transfer) must be sent to us for verification. The Payment Information that you need to send to us are: Money Transfer Control Number, Sender's Name and Sender's Address, Amount Transferred.Please send us the Payment Information at: TNT On-Line Payment Service
Receiver of the Payment - TNT Agent
11 Portland Street
United Kingdom TNT - We have found that providing email and Internet support allows us to give quick, reliable, and consistent answers to questions and concerns. Using email also allows us to document what was communicated in previous emails to you and to avoid duplication of responses. Phone support simply does not serve our member's needs as well as email does.Contact us with any questions 24/7: TNT On-Line Customer Service
IMPORTANT !!! The package is verified by TNT and it is in the TNT carrier custody. We will be able to ship the package after the Payment is verified. Please allow us up to 2 hours to verify the transaction.
Intellectual and other property rights to the information contained in this site are held by TNT Holding B.V. with all rights reserved 2007."
Notice again the mispellings, poor grammar, and crazy formatting. In addition, customer service is only offered by e-mail. This is not standard practice among reputable shipping companies.
Wait, there's more email to this scam:
"Please quote this Numberif you have an enquiry.*65578731US*
Tracking Number: 65578731
Click here to track your package: Tracking
Important TNT Payment Instructions / Shipment DetailsPlease read the Instructions carefully.
Dear TNT Customer,
We have your package in our custody.
Description of goods: Apple iBook G4 Laptop
Delivery Type: TNT Express Overnight Delivery - After the Payment is received and verified by TNT - TPGAmount to be paid by the Buyer: US $400.00
Payment Instructions - Receiver of the Payment - David Mackey - TNT Agent.
The payment must be made through Western Union Money Transfer to the Name of the TNT Agent who is in charge with this transaction - David Mackey using the Money in Minutes Service from Western Union.
Important Note: The Payment must be made at one of Western Union's Agent Locations, in person by the Buyer. The payment must not be made using Western Union's Send Money Online Service due to the high Credit Card fraud risk. We will not confirm any payments made online.
You must go to a Western Union Agent Location and make a Money Transfer to the Name of the TNT Agent who is responsible with this transaction - David Mackey.
In order to complete the Money Transfer using the Money in Minutes Service you will need the Payment Details of our TNT Agent:
Please make your Money Transfer payable to:
First Name: David Last Name: Mackey Address: 11 Portland StreetCity: ManchesterZip(City Code): M1 3HU Country: United Kingdom
After you complete the payment you need to send the Payment Information for verification to our Payment Department at their e-mail address: TNT On-Line Payment Service
The Payment Information that you need to send to us for verification are:
- MTCN ( Money Transfer Control Number ) - 10 digits number located on your payment receipt - Sender's Name and Sender's Address - Amount Transferred
1.The Payment will be sent to the Seller by TNT only after you receive the package, check the merchandise and if you are completely satisfied with it, you will then instruct us to release the Payment to the Seller.
2.TNT acts as a third party holding at the same time the merchandise and the Payment.
3. After the merchandise is received by the Buyer, the Buyer will have up to 31 days depending on the nature of the merchandise to review the merchandise.
For transaction No. 65578731 the inspection time is 31 ( thirty one ) business days.
a) If the Buyer decided to keep the merchandise the Buyer will instruct TNT to release the funds to the Seller.
b) If for any reason the Buyer does not want to keep the merchandise, the Buyer will ask TNT to be refunded.
The refund procedure is very simple, the Buyer will receive the money from TNT through Bank to Bank Wire Transfer, or by Check or by MoneyGram Money Transfer.
The refund method is at the Buyer's choice.
Thank you for using TNT Richard McGregor - TNT Customer Department
Manchester Depot 419 Bury New Road ManchesterM25 1AA Customer Department General Manager: Robert Kay
Email: TNT On-Line Customer Service
Intellectual and other property rights to the information contained in this site are held by TNT Holding B.V. with all rights reserved 2007"
I googled TNT Shipping, they are a legitimate company. However, they do not offer any third party transaction services of any sort. It's a questionable business practice. Sarah Beswick and her iBook ad has been flagged on several local craigslists (San Diego, Richmond, Philadelphia, New Jersey). If I had my way the FBI would be looking for her too. I'll settle for bad press on sites like this.
This iBook ad is a total scam. Don't do it. They are liars and thieves. Do not send money to anyone you do not know in order to purchase a computer (or any other item) you have not seen. Do your transactions locally. There should be no reason to involve Western Union in the purchase of a computer. And in no case should a computer purchase involve overseas shipping.
Thanks Ripoff Report!
Williamstown, New Jersey