Re: Scammer Identification Techniques

In article <Xns9BAD96984680Dqqwwaass@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
TheKorn <TheKorn@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Rick Swanson <rns510@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in news:aa6a562d-601e-4c9f-a7a2-

A few days ago I posted a Mr. Pinball ad for a Pop-A-Card playfield.
I've gotten a few email replies from folks who were obviously members
in good standing with the international pinball community and I've
gotten a BUNCH of emails from folks who can't be identified through a
Google search of rgp (and, thus, are suspected scammers).

For those folks who have sold stuff through Mr. Pinball, is it safe to
assume that any reply that contains a verbatim recitation of the ad is
just a scammer?... or, do those frequently (or even occasionally) turn
out to be legit? How about exceedingly poor grammar and total lack of

The easiest way to weed them out is to reply to them, but *change* their
quote to something else.

For example, they write:

"I have a 1959 Gottlieb Pop-a-Card, email for pictures"

So you write back:

I have a 1979 Mercury Outboard, email for pictures

Please describe the outboard motor, I'm VERY interested in the price and

If they don't write you back with "what the hell are you talking about,
I'm not selling an outboard motor", you have a scammer! :)

Last week I had someone contact me asking about a scammer, a Mr. Michael
Henwood <henwood.michael@xxxxxxxx> pretending to be in the UK. I contacted
the scammer as if he had already emailed me about some parts I wanted for a
"Data East Adams Family". Mr. Henwood claimed to have the (non-existent
nonsense) parts and that they were in excellent condition.

These scammers must send out so many emails that they don't know if they
didn't send one to you. It's like walking up to someone on the street in a
crowd and starting in the middle of a conversation and they have no idea you
haven't been talking to them!

Feel free to contact the above "Mr. Henwood" and pretend he's already
offered you some parts. When you get tired of him, you can make him go away
as soon as you tell him you live in the UK and you'll be right over to
inspect the parts!

BTW, we maintain a list of known scammers at
As soon as someone tells me about a scammer using Mr. Pinball, I'll put them
on the list of known scammers. Right now we have 203 scammers listed (back
to January 1, 2006), many of which have many identities, some with dozens.

The good news is that some of these have actually been prosecuted because
they're in the US, even though they pretended to be outside.

Some of the tips in this thread for identifying a scammer are correct, and
here's a few more:

1. Uses a free email service with throw-away addresses like and Often these addresses will have a numbering scheme that they
work through sequentially as accounts are closed--grant.james1988@xxxxxxxxx,
grant.james1987@xxxxxxxxx, ...

2. Chooses fake name using two english first names--Mr. Mark Robert. He
can't seem to remember which is his first name and which is his last name!
This guy calls himself Mr. Mark and Mr. Robert.

3. Seems too interested in the monetary aspect of the transaction. Not
really interested in the items being sold or items they're selling. Pushes
for your private information to complete the transaction before they see
what you have for sale, or communicating what they have for sale. Doesn't
act like a real buyer or seller.

4. Not conversant in the items being sold.

5. Tends to communicate during business hours in Africa!

There's lots more signals that it's a scam. If you have to ask, then it's
probabaly a scam!

Lately the big scam running has the scammer contact a business and order
hundreds or thousands of dollars of just a few things, as if they are being
bought for resale overseas. They will often ask for a shipping quote and
they turn the shipping quote down and say they have a "shipping company"
that they'll use instead that will just pick up the products. They
sometimes order bizarre stuff like 14 cases of green lipstick! They have no
intent to receive the product. They offer to pay by credit card and then
have the business being scammed pay for the shipping for them using the
credit card and have the business wire the "shipping funds" to the "shipping
company" (which also always has a throw-away email address too!)

They will often split up the charges with multiple credit cards, going under
$1K on each so as to not trigger the automatic fraud detection on the card.
Of course the credit cards are stolen and the business will have to come up
with the funds lost to the wire.

The best way to deal with these crooks is to play along and accept their
credit card info, report them to the credit card company as stolen, and then
tell the scammer that the card has been declined. They scammer will almost
always offer another card. Rinse, repeat. Eventually the scammer will run
out of stolen cards or lose interest.

Depleting their credit cards is a good thing. These stolen cards cost them
money. The crooks that steal the actual credit card info don't use them.
They just sell the info to scammers like this that go through them like

The only problem with this technique for foiling scammers is that Visa and
MC don't cooperate very well. They are suspicious of someone reporting
stolen credit card info and they want to know your name, etc. which is okay,
but it can take many minutes to report stolen cards. Also Visa and MC don't
directly kill the cards, instead the member banks that issue the cards kill
the accounts. It's a bit of a hassle if you're not a credit card merchant to
report these stolen cards. Visa and MC don't seem to care if you're not a

BTW, if anyone here has connections within Visa or MC to set up a quick way
to report stolen credit card info that would help a lot. This is a little
tricky since any reporting has to be direct to Visa or MC, not to a third
party. Otherwise the credit card info could just be funneled into someone
else who is turning around and selling stolen info!
Daina Pettit=daina@xxxxxxxxxxxx, voice: (801)277-6296, msg: (801)277-0888
Linux Consulting Salt Lake City, Utah
Mr. Pinball Classified--More Pinball Ads than ANYWHERE, and they're FREE!

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