Liddy's lost liberty
After Yvonne Liddy, for instance, recently lost $8,650 in a sham listing for a 2005 Jeep Liberty, she spent hours tracking down the Alhambra, California-based woman she paid through a bank-to-bank transfer. After finally locating a cell phone number for the mule, Liddy called and confronted her.
"She started freaking out and gave me everything," Liddy said of the mule. "She gave me the password to her email so I could take whatever I wanted."
The emails, combined with Liddy's account of her conversations with the mule, give plenty of details about how the scheme worked. The mule, a newly married 21-year-old, had payments deposited directly into a Washington Mutual Bank account, which she kept in her maiden name. The mule was then instructed to send payments through Western Union to individuals in Greece.
Payments were to be broken up into chunks no larger than $3,000, to get around certain Western Union restrictions. Sometimes she had to travel to three separate Western Union locations and make payments at each one, according to the emails, which were reviewed by The Register.
Can't touch this
The emails suggest she helped funnel $34,450 between September 27 and October 12 from four separate individuals, one of them being Liddy, though it's unclear if all four transactions went through as described in the messages.
The emails gave the mule one of two options for being paid: either deduct 6 percent of the funds immediately or wire the total amount and receive a check for 10 percent later. However, the emails indicate that the mule had trouble getting her bosses to pay as promised.
"It would appear there was a slight delay to the first check, and it would be fair to compensate you," someone going by the name of Johen wrote in one message before going on to promise a check would be forthcoming. "That's the best I can do right now," Johen continued. "You've always responded promptly to my requests and I appreciate that."
Liddy's pursuit, while providing a rare glimpse into the world of online graft, has done little to help her recover the money she lost. She considered taking the mule to small claims court, but is reluctant to spend money traveling from Ohio.
"I'm at a standstill, I guess," she said. "I called a couple lawyers and no one even wanted to touch the case."
'It's eating me alive'
Hartman, the eBay buyer who got his cashiers check back, said its crucial for victims of fraud on eBay to take swift action because site representatives are of little help.
"You cannot count on eBay to straighten it out for you," he said. "If you want your money back, they're just not going to do anything to assist you."
The flip-side of that coin, however, is being powerless to pursue a person who played a key role in the theft of thousands of dollars, says Chuck Pflugmacher, an Illinois resident who lost $17,900 in a recent fraudulent eBay auction for a 2005 Toyota Tacoma.
"It's eating me alive," said Pflugmacher, who said he spent hours trying to unsuccessfully locate the Las Vegas-based mule. "It's frustrating not being able to contact her personally. I try not to stew over it because it's not going to do me any good." ®
Okay, no need to fly off the handle! I wasn't suggesting that eBay intentionally encouraged criminal activity.
So my general point still stands - eBay and the banks make more money by ignoring the problem than by solving it.
"The article's author knows this and has seen the correspondence, but has conveniently left out ebay's side - I wonder why."
That would be because Ebay never responds to queries. If their automated system picks something up and fires off an email, great - but getting the customer service to even respond to repeated requests, and oftentimes even getting the PR to say something other than no comment, is impossible.
A real phishingly good example of the recruiting process...
This is an actual email I received, including headers and sans my identifying information. Odd characters were the hidden links.
potential schmuck-path: <Madalyn@Monster.com>
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.2.3 (2007-08-08) on dev.some_domain.com
X-Spam-Status: No, score=4.8 required=5.0 tests=BAYES_50,DATE_IN_PAST_03_06,
MISSING_MIMEOLE autolearn=no version=3.2.3
Received: from mta4.manage.some_isp.com ([255.255.255.255])
(Sun Java System Messaging Server 6.2-6.01 (built Apr 3 2006))
with ESMTP id <0JR900HBC2BPGD20@msa1.manage.some_isp.com> for
potential_schmuck@some_isp.com; Fri, 09 Nov 2007 12:38:13 -0500 (EST)
Received: from mxsf09.some_isp.com ([255.255.255.255])
(Sun Java System Messaging Server 6.2-6.01 (built Apr 3 2006))
with ESMTP id <0JR900E542BOGXR0@mta4.manage.some_isp.com> for
potential_schmuck@some_isp.com (ORCPT potential_schmuck@some_isp.com); Fri,
09 Nov 2007 12:38:13 -0500 (EST)
Received: from recreationslark.com (HELO mxip04.some_isp.com)
([126.96.36.199]) by mxsf09.some_isp.com with ESMTP; Fri,
09 Nov 2007 12:38:11 -0500
Received: from smtp104.biz.mail.re2.yahoo.com ([188.8.131.52])
by mxip04.some_isp.com with SMTP; Fri, 09 Nov 2007 12:38:12 -0500
Received: (qmail 36075 invoked from network); Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:38:11 +0000
Received: from unknown (HELO localhost)
(firstname.lastname@example.org@184.108.40.206 with login)
by smtp104.biz.mail.re2.yahoo.com with SMTP; Fri, 09 Nov 2007 17:38:11 +0000
Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2007 12:34:54 +0000
From: Madalyn Snider <Madalyn@Monster.com>
Subject: Monster.com have the new job for You, Potential Schmuck
To: Potential Schmuck <potential_schmuck@some_isp.com> [Azle]
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1437
X-Priority: 3 (Normal)
Sun-Java-System-SMTP-Warning: Lines longer than SMTP allows found and wrapped.
X-IronPort-AV: E=Sophos;i="4.21,396,1188792000"; d="scan'208,217";a="129153095"
X-Bogosity: Unsure, tests=bogofilter, spamicity=0.604383, version=1.1.5
Potential Schmuck: Job offer
We have found your resume at Monster.com and would like to suggest you a "Financial agent" Njli NjM4
vacancy. We have studied your resume and are happy to inform you that your skills ZTkx MT
completely meet our requirements for this position.
This is a part-time position. Your job will be to transfer money between our clients.
Your job will consist in the following:
Receive the check by mail
Cash the check within a business day, excluding days off
8% of the amount are left for yourself as a commission. You take it immediately
The rest of the sum is to be sent via western union to us to the address which will be OW E0OW
mentioned in the e-mail. Transaction fees shall be paid out of the same sum.
Your schedule will be flexible. You will need to spend on average 1-2 hours per day, Monday-Friday.
This is a work-at-home position. All communication will be online.
This job will allow you to:
- Develop high selfrespect and esteem. MGFk ZTU0
- Get financial independence working only 3-5 hours per day; MGF kZTU
- Efficiently work at home; MG Fk
- Ability to create good administrative reporting; YjRj ZTB
- Willingness to take the responsibility to set up and achieve goals; Yj RjZT
- Prior customer service experience is a good benefit; YmY zN
- Internet and e-mail skills; Experience in online work;
During the trial period you will be paid $1,500 per month. You will also be keeping 8 percent commission
from every check received from our customer. With the current ammount of clients your average
income will be about up to $2,000 USD per month. After the trial period your base salary will go up to
$2,250 USD per month, plus 8 percent commission.After the trial period you may ask for additional hours or
proceed full-time.OWJ mO
If you are interested in this position, and would like to know more, please e-mail me
We will contact you within 2 days