The Western Union clerk saved me $470 by alertiing me to the fact that companies usually receive money with a company code because they are registered with WU, the fee is very low, and NOT to individuals in the company unless you personally know them, especially out of the country. It was then that I went past researching the TNT web site and found so many hits that I knew I came as close as having the cash in my hand at the WU counter to experiencing my first Internet scam! How humbling...
The craigslist ad was for a Dell M1710 laptop (too-good-to-be-true, of course). Here is the text of the first email from Laura Halley.
Sorry for my late reply but I'm currently in England, Wolverhampton. I was promoted to Sales Administrator and I have to take a 6 months trainning program here in UK, before I'll be back home, in States.
The laptop is still available, in perfect condition, and I will sell it only in US because here the warranty and the DellCare are US registered.
I can't use the laptop here in UK because it works on 110 V. I didn't know about this problem when I moved here and another reason why I am selling the laptop is because I have just received a new laptop as a birthday gift here in UK, so I do not think I will be using my old laptop any more. I don't have use for 2 laptops.
I have attached some pics with the laptop to this e-mail so you can see the condition of the laptop. I bought the laptop 14 months ago and it still has 10 months of Dell transferable warranty remaining ( you can extand the warranty for one year on your name ).
I hope you are still interested and we can make the deal happen right away.
Since I can't meet you and make the exchange, I would like to use a service that will help us with that: http://www.tnt.com/tnt.express.wolverha ... rvice.html
TNT is a worldwide delivery company (like Fedex, DHL or UPS). You can see from their procedure that you will be able to check the laptop before I receive the payment. If you are in a hurry, I will use 2 day delivery (on my expense).
Let me know what you think.
Subsequent emails had official TNT looking instructions to do a WU money transfer to an individual as an agent
Tracking Number: 696587457
Important TNT Payment Instructions/Shipment Details
Please read the Instructions carefully.
Click here to track your package: Track
Dear TNT Customer,
We have your package in our custody.
Description of goods: 1 x Dell XPS M1710 Laptop Computer
Sender of package ( Seller ): Laura Halley
Receiver of package ( Buyer ): xxx
City / State: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Zip(City Code): xxx
Delivery Type: TNT Express 2nd Day Delivery - After the Payment is received and verified by TNT
Amount to be paid by the Buyer: US $425.00
Payment Instructions - Receiver of the Payment -Victor Diaw
The payment must be made through Western Union Money Transfer to the Name of the TNT Agent who is in charge with this transaction - Victor Diaw 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 - Victor Diaw .
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: Victor
Last Name: Diaw
Address: 214 Bowery Street
Zip(City Code): S22 1TF
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 (the MTCN is the 10-digit number located on your Western Union Confirmation Receipt)
- Sender's Name and Sender's Address - (the name Name and Address of the Sender of the Western Union Money Transfer)
- Amount Transferred - (the 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. Only then you will 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 21 days depending on the nature of the merchandise to review the merchandise.
For transaction No. 696587457 the inspection time is 5 ( five ) business days.
a) If the Buyer decides 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 for a refund.
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 Western Union Money Transfer.
The refund method is at the Buyer's choice.
Thank you for using TNT
Nicole Card - TNT Customer Department
214 Bowery Street
General Manager: Robert Kay
I was ready to pay the $425 plus $45 fee because I was so anxious for this great deal. I was saved by the persistent warnings of the WU clerk. I owe her a Starbucks card, for sure. This is one doggone clever and elaborate scam!
By the way, I was receiving emails promptly during 'negotiations' but after I responded that I would only pay through WU to a company account instead of an individual, I have not had one email from Laura. I guess she is not so full of 'Cheers' now. If the scams are giving Internet business a bad rep, then sites like this along with search engines might keep it more manageable.
I even thought I was being careful by asking for the Dell service tag ( 6CZBVB1 ) and researching it at Dell and verifying the item. Turns out a google search of 6CZBVB1 reveals the computer being sold around the world! Did I mention that this was one clever scam!
Also, per reply below, I have now gifted the clerk with a $10 card and an explanation confirming her suspicions.