Amazon Payments Scam via Cars.com et al

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Bargain Hunters, Mad Monday, Wire Fraud

We look at another Bargain Hunter scammer today. I rate this chap higher than last week’s Bargain Hunter scammer because, as you’re about to see, today’s scammer puts a lot more effort into what he does.

So here we go, the Bargain Hunter scam is a four pronged attack which starts at cars.com

1. Scammer Sets the Trap

This ad on cars.com is for a 1998 BMW 323.

* 3/12/2013 update – this scammer has multiple postings on cars.com, here is another *

* 3/20/2013 update – listing from 3/12/2013 update is still active (1993 Mazda Miata MX-5), but seller is now using Devin Briese (devinbriese1@gmail.com) *

* 3/27/2013 update – here’s another listing on cars.com, seller is now using Ray Miller (ray.miller69@comcast.net) *

amazon payments scam and cars.com

At $5,100 it’s a pretty sweet deal, but it just gets better the more you chat to the gent behind the sale.

2. Victim Takes the Bait

+1 to this scammer from the get go because from what I can tell he is sampling his replies, i.e., he only replies to 1/ N requests for more information. Through sampling, he is significantly increasing the cost of an investigation and so mitigating the chance of getting caught.

After numerous attempts to make contact, I finally got a hit:

From: Adam Wigner (wigneradam@msn.com)
Subject: Cars.com used car lead for - 1998 BMW 323‏

Hi , 
My name is Adam, and I am emailing you about the 1998 BMW 323i 
Convertible that I have for sale. Here you have more information 
about my car (119,650 mileage , clean title , 6 Cyl. RWD , 
4-wheel ABS , automatic transmission ) Black exterior with an 
excellent condition tan leather interior that is fully loaded 
with options. Flawless interior/exterior condition. I am 
selling it at this final price of $5,100 because my wife died 
in a bike accident few months ago and brings me bad memories 
and that's the reason I want to sell it asap. I along with my
daughter decided to sell the house and we moved to my sister 
in Oklahoma City , OK trying to start a new life.

Thank you

The highlighted line about moving is important. It sets the tone for what is about to come, i.e., the car is no longer in the location it was originally claimed to be (so I can’t see it in person)

3. Scammer Gains Victim’s Trust

I asked the scammer for more pics:

From: 
Subject: Cars.com used car lead for - 1998 BMW 323‏

Forgive my impatience, I did not know the car had such
unfortunate memories for you. Regardless, when you can
could you please send me more pictures? It's hard to
know how good the condition is based upon a single pic.

You surely have a much better life waiting for you in sunny
oklahama. Once again, my deepest condolences for your loss,
ultimately it's still a great car so I hope we can make this a good deal on both sides.

The scammer replies with more pics and tells me again that the car is no longer with him, but that’s okay because it is now with Amazon!

From: Adam Wigner (wigneradam@msn.com)
Subject: Cars.com used car lead for - 1998 BMW 323‏

Hi ,

Please find the pics attached ! As I told you in my first
 e-mail we decided to move to my sister, trying to start 
a new life here. I am located in Oklahoma City (the car 
is in Oklahoma City too). Before leaving I had prearranged
the deal with Amazon Payments. The car is now located at 
Amazon's shipping company sealed with all papers, ready to
be delivered. The deal includes free delivery and it will 
arrive at your address in 3 days along title and bill of 
sale. You will have 5 days to test it and inspect the car 
and if by any reason you find something you don't like 
about it you can send it back at my expense.

If you are interested in knowing more info about how it 
works please click here on Amazon Payments and register, 
once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the 
invoice with all the payment and shipping details you 
will also have proof that I am covered by them and a 
legitimate seller.

Thank you

 

amazon payments scam and cars.com

Free delivery of a car at that price, now that’s a deal for sure!

The Amazon Payments URL points to http://www.billing-support.com/, which is the real prize in this investigation. It allows us to get an idea of what else this fraudster is up to. From the Services tab:

amazon payments scam and cars.com

amazon payments scam and cars.com

* 3/20/2013 update – scammer is now using amazon-payments-secure-business.com *

I loved this from the Top Questions section:

amazon payments scam and cars.com

Just to be clear: billing-support.com is a scam! Amazon does not provide escrow services of this nature and is in no way affiliated with billing-support.com.

4. Victim Sends Money

I followed the scammer’s instructions and registered with billing-support.com. Shortly thereafter I received the following email claiming to be from Amazon Payments:

From: Amazon Payments (admin@marketplace-safety-transactions.com)
Subject: Amazon FPS Invoice‏

Thanks for using Amazon FPS for this order,   !
The next step is to pay for your item. Check out and pay to get your 
item as soon as possible.

Purchasing Information For Your Secure Amazon FPS Invoice
Seller: Adam Wigner

Buyer: 

Order Summary

Item:                   1998 BMW 323
Item(s) Subtotal:       $5,100.00 
Deposit:                $2,100.00 
Remaining Balance: 	$3,000.00 
Shipping & Handling: 	$0.00
Inspection Period: 	5 calendar days
Amazon Fee paid by: 	Seller
Quantity: 	        1

 	------

Total for this Order: 	$5,100.00

Payment Instructions:

How to make the payment? 

The first deposit of $2,100.00 must be submitted via MoneyGram 
service to the Amazon FPS Verified Agent in charge of your 
transaction. The Amazon FPS Verified Agent will secure the 
payment until you receive, inspect and accept the vehicle. You 
have to pay at any MoneyGram office with CASH using MONEY 
TRANSFER service, from your name and address as a Sender to 
our Amazon FPS Verified Agent name and address as a Receiver .

Find the nearest MoneyGram office in your area. MoneyGram 
agents are post offices, exchange offices or retail locations 
- grocery stores, mail box centers, drug stores, travel 
agencies, depots, other retail locations . Give the form, the 
money(cash), and a proof of identity to the clerk. Pay with 
MoneyGram. It's the easy and fast way to pay online, and it 
lets you shop without sharing your financial details with 
sellers. 

Please note: This is done automatically by our system, choosing 
from the list of available agents, in order to ensure the 
impartiality of this deal.

Amazon FPS Verified Agent

 First Name :	Jonathan E.
 Last Name : 	Griffin
 Address : 	4827 Noble Dr E
 City : 	Mobile
 State: 	AL
 Zip Code : 	36619-1907
 Country:	United States 

Confirm the MoneyGram payment receipt at the following fax number: 
+1 ( 719 ) 362-3997. 

*** Please do not make any marks on the transfer copy. The following 
information must be readable ***

- E-mail us the following details from the payment receipt: 
- Reference Number - 8 digits number from the receipt ; 
- Sender's Name and Address ; 
- Receiver's Name and Address ; 
- Exact Amount Sent . 

Please note: This invoice was sent to the following e-mail address: 
Have questions about this order? Contact Amazon FPS .  
Thank you for using Amazon Payments.
Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS). 
Earth's Biggest Selection.

amazon payments scam and cars.com

If you’re new to the Bargain Haunter scam, the fraud here is that our seller does not actually own the car, or at least has no intention of selling it. He wants me to wire money to Jonathan E Griffin in Mobile, AL. The chances are that Jonathan is but a money mule who has been conned into some other scam and is now expecting money to be sent to him. Once I send the money off, I won’t be receiving anything from Amazon Payments, for this is all just an illusion.

When Jonathan E Griffin gets my money, he may keep a small percentage for himself (perhaps as payment for being a Mystery Shopper) and then sends the balance off to another victim (or quite possibly the scammer).

The scammer launders the money through multiple victims so as to introduce complexity, cost and ultimately throw the law enforcement/investigators off of his tail. Sooner or later the money will exit the money mule ring and make its way to the scammer, if you follow the trail for long enough it always does.

Note that the email from Amazon Payments came from marketplace-safety-transactions.com and not the domain that I originally registered with. As a result, marketplace-safety-transactions.com is also in on the scam. If you’re considering any kind of transaction with anyone from this domain, caveat emptor, for you have been warned!

What to score this scammer?

I think it’s only fair to recognize the effort this scammer put into his scam. Note the Vehicle Report I received from Amazon Payments along with the invoice:

amazon payments scam and cars.com

Sure it’s all just text and it’s cheap and it does not mean anything, but it does show that he put effort into being the best scammer he could be (which is not that much, but still a noteworthy effort). Most of the bozos I deal with try to quickly pull this off all via one or two emails sent from their gmail accounts. Furthermore, he sent me a unique tracking id when I registered (referred to as a Case Id #), which means he is persisting state on his servers. So he has a little DB running behind this which means he had to develop it himself or invest time and money paying someone who could put this together for him.

At the end of the day, I rate this scammer 5/10

  • 1 point for a classic Bargain Hunter scam
  • 1 point for sampling the emails he responded to
  • 1 point for involving Amazon Payments and leveraging off of a great brand
  • 1 point for registering a sharp looking domain that looks pretty similar to Amazon Payments
  • 1 point for the tracking code
« »

23 Comments

  1. jamme
    March 12, 2013

    The questions I have are why is this allowed on cars dot com in the first place and how many people are falling for this?

    Only cars dot com would know this. Can you try contacting them for a response?

  2. wesleyb
    March 12, 2013

    I reported an ad to them last week.

    Hopefully they’re watching this space.

  3. wesleyb
    March 13, 2013

    I spent some time thinking about this, I think it’s only fair to point out that this is not a trivial problem to solve. I’m also fairly certain that cars.com is proactively searching for scammers.

    Because of the nature of the iPensatori audience (technical & familiar with fraud), I am often quick to omit the complexities involved in finding this type of fraud.

    Identifying Bargain Hunter scammers alone relies upon some heavy lifting automation using an algorithm that has taken years to get just right. Throw in hours of manual investigation that may or may not lead somewhere plus scammers that know you are looking for them and you end up with an ecosystem of savvy fraudsters that are on top of their game and not so easy to catch.

  4. J
    March 21, 2013

    “Devin Briese” is pulling the same scam with boats now. 2001 Sea Doo Challenger 2000 – http://www.autotrader.ca/a/Sea-Doo/Challenger%202000/MONTRÉAL/Quebec/19_6719366_/?ms=boats&showcpo=ShowCPO

    He prices it reasonably at just $1000-$2000 less than it’s worth and then will accept your low-ball offer which makes it an even better deal. If the deal is too good to be true – it’s clearly a scam. If the deal is somewhat believable then you start thinking hey maybe this is not so unrealistic at all.

  5. J
    March 21, 2013

    Hi and sorry for delay,
    Please find the pics attached ! I am selling it at this final price of $8,500 because I had been transferred with my job and don’t have time to use it. I am located in Moose Jaw , SK (the boat is in Moose Jaw too). Before leaving I had prearranged the deal with Amazon Payments. The boat is now located at Amazon’s shipping company sealed with all papers, ready to be delivered. The deal includes free delivery and it will arrive at your address in 3 days along title and bill of sale. You will have 5 days to test it and inspect the boat and if by any reason you find something you don’t like about it you can send it back at my expense.

    If you are interested in knowing more info about how it works please click here on Amazon Payments and register, once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details you will also have proof that I am covered by them and a legitimate seller.

    Thank you

  6. wesleyb
    March 21, 2013

    Great find!

    Boats, RVs, farm equipment… these guys are into anything where they can engineer a deal.

  7. Debbie
    March 27, 2013

    WOW! ALMOST GOT CAUGHT BY RAY MILLER ON THE TOYOTA TUNDRA! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    My husband made me do some background checks and we found this site. I will NEVER try to buy privately again.

    HE EVEN CALLED ME ON THE PHONE.

    One of his emails:

    The car is still for sale. The asking price is $13,900 and it is located in Billings/MT. The car is registered on my name and the title is clean (no liens). It is in great condition, no dents or scratches, was always garaged and the regular maintenance was done in time. It wasn’t involved in any accident and has never suffered any kind of damage. Also this is a non-smoker car. If you have any questions regarding the car or you want extra photos or a free Car Fax report just let me know!

    I’m a pilot on cargo flights. My wife broke up with me recently because I’m always away from home. We just sold our house and split the money. This is the last thing I need to sell and split the money with her.

    Because I’m away most of the time I will not be able to deal in person. But I’ve already arranged the shipping and the title transfer anywhere in the US. I will pay the shipping fees.

    I want the payment to be handled by Amazon!Payments. They will keep the money until you will receive and inspect the car. You will have 7 days of inspection period. If the car is not like described you will have to ship it back on my expense and they will give you a full refund. This way, you will be able to inspect the vehicle before committing to buy it and I know that you have the money and you aren’t just fooling around.

    Giving the nature of this transaction please note that my sale terms are final. In order to move forward I will need your full name, address and phone number.
    I don’t want to offend you, but the car is priced for a fast sale so please if you intend to trade, apply for a loan or financing it will not work for me!

    Best regards,
    Ray Miller

  8. Christine Bax
    March 29, 2013

    wow….really wish I had found this website last week. My husband and I were sucker by “Devin Briese” for a 2001 TRITON TR21Bass boat.

    Subject: Re: 2001 TRITON TR21
    Hi ,
    Please find the pics attached ! As I have told you, I am forced to sell the boat because I’ve been transferred to another state with my job and because of my lack of spare time I am not going to be able to use it anymore. I am located in Moose Jaw , SK (the boat is in Moose Jaw too). Before leaving I had prearranged the deal with Amazon Payments. The boat is now located at Amazon’s shipping company sealed with all papers, ready to be delivered. The deal includes free delivery and it will arrive at your address in 3 days along title and bill of sale. You will have 5 days to test it and inspect the boat and if by any reason you find something you don’t like about it you can send it back at my expense. I believe this protects both buyer and seller and it’s the right way to do this.

    If you are interested in knowing more info about how it works please click here on Amazon Payments and register, once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details you will also have proof that I am covered by them and a legitimate seller.

    Thank you
    Well – needless to say we’re out $7000. And we feel like idiots.

    Is there any chance of getting our money back?

  9. wesleyb
    March 30, 2013

    Sorry to hear that Christine. Unfortunately, if you wired the money then it is gone.

  10. ALAN
    April 5, 2013

    OMG from craigslist , was a motorcycle , and yes i wired the $$ from bank to bank

    Amazon Payments reduces the potential risk of fraud by acting as a trusted third party that collects, holds and disburses funds according to Buyer instructions.
    Amazon Payments Case ID # HN39OPLK

    Please find attached the Invoice for Case ID # HN39OPLK. Print the attachment and complete the Payment according to the details. After you complete the Payment, please follow the confirmation instructions.
    Guide on how to Complete and Confirm the Payment and how to Accept or Reject the Vehicle
    1. Complete the payment according to the details in the attached invoice. In most cases, you need to complete a wire transfer from your bank account into the account provided by Amazon Payments. In order to link the wire transfer to the transaction, please add as payment description the invoice number of the attached invoice as shown under Payment Details.

    2. After you complete the payment, fill in the Payment Confirmation Receipt and fax it to the indicated number. If you do not have access to a fax machine, you can reply to this email and attach a scan of the Payment Confirmation Receipt. Please note that payment confirmation is usually made within 24 hours after we receive the Payment Confirmation Receipt.

    3. After the payment is confirmed, Amazon Payments authorizes the Seller to ship the vehicle. The inspection period will begin when the vehicle is delivered. There is no inspection form available, but we strongly suggest a professional survey made by an authorized dealer.

    4. Accepting the vehicle
    If you decide to keep the vehicle, you need to enter our Live Help Support or reply to this email within the inspection period. We will then provide you with an Acceptance Application you have to fill and send back to us along with a copy/scan of your Driver’s License and, if necessary, a bank receipt proving that you completed the Wire Transfer according to the details provided in the invoice. If no response is provided within the inspection period, the funds are automatically disbursed to the Seller.

    5. Canceling your Payment
    If you decide to reject the vehicle, you need to enter our Live Help Support or reply to this email within the inspection period. We will then provide you with a Rejection Application you have to fill and send back to us along with a copy/scan of your Driver’s License and, if necessary, a bank receipt proving that you completed the Wire Transfer according to the details provided in the invoice. If no response is provided within the inspection period, the funds are automatically disbursed to the Seller.
    Important Notice
    Please note that, for transactions higher than $1,000, credit card is not accepted. You must transfer the funds by bank wire from your account to Amazon Payments account.
    Payment must be submitted via bank-to-bank electronic wire transfer to Amazon Payments Subsidiary bank account. Amazon Payments will secure the funds until the Buyer receives, inspects and accepts the vehicle.
    For security reasons, please do not release the payment details to the Seller or to any other unauthorized party.
    All the transactions, the payments and personal information are confidential and will not be disclosed under any circumstance.

  11. ALAN
    April 5, 2013

    now it shows , account suspended

  12. ALAN
    April 5, 2013

  13. ALAN
    April 5, 2013

    i unfortunately found this website to late ,,,, i just hope my bank can do something

  14. Brenda
    May 7, 2013

    Same thing but we were to purchase a 2005 john deere tractor. wired them the money they ask $8700,to amazon flexible payments service, which was said it was a third party which was safe for both parties. thought because it was amazon, it would be safe then was asked another $1500 for insurance to get it here and were told that we would get it back when it was drop off. told them to cancel the transaction and said the money back into my account. They replied it would take 3 business days. Have not seen it yet. They are still advertising in auto trader and kijiji. They still use these web sites. I guess there is nothing to do but realize if it sounds too good to be true it is. and now we are out $8700 it hard to think we were taken. Now I just keep applying to these articles and when they give me the info to send money I just do not reply. OF course use different email address. it gives me some satisfaction. I wish that there would be something we could do to catch these people. I also found this website to late

  15. Brenda
    May 7, 2013

    This was the letter we received asking for more money thats when we thought this was not right, I know a little late. wish I would have seen your web site

    Amazon Inc.
    Apr 29 (8 days ago)
    Dear Mike

    Email reference id: [QP2DVAZ1]
    Please don’t remove this number. Amazon FPS customer support may ask you for this number, if you should need assistance.

    Please send us your copy of the ID and of the driver license so we can refund you the payment.

    to me
    Dear Mike

    Email reference id: [QP2DVAZ1]
    Please don’t remove this number. Amazon FPS customer support may ask you for this number, if you should need assistance.

    We are very sorry to inform you that we have some bad news. The shipping process was stopped because your tractor is not insured. The train that was transporting your tractor is transporting 4 cars , 2 snowmobiles and 3 bikes. The other buyers already paid the insurance of their their items so we are waiting for you to pay it. The cost of the insurance is $1,500.00. You will receive the refund of this payment along with the tractor, also in case you won`t be satisfied with your item you`ll get all your money back (initial payment+insurance payment) .
    We hope that you understand that is very important to insure the tractor during the transportation.
    You have to make the payment using the same payment method.
    Bellow is the info for insurance payment:

    Bank Nane: Barclays PLC
    Bank Address: 26 Talbot Road , London , W2 5LJ , United Kingdom
    Account Name: Amazon Inc.
    Owner Address: 40A EastLake Rd. , London , SE5 9QL , United Kingdom
    Sort Code: 205304
    IBAN: GB78 BARC 2053 0473 8762 84
    SWIFT/BIC: BARCGB22

    We are waiting for your payment confirmation as soon as possible so the shipping process can continue !

    Thank you for using Amazon Payments
    Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS).
    Earth’s Biggest Selection.

    Email reference id: [QP2DVAZ1]
    Please don’t remove this number. Amazon FPS customer support may ask you for this number, if you should need assistance.

    You will receive the refund of $8,700.00 in your account in 3 working days.

  16. wesleyb
    May 7, 2013

    So greedy!

  17. Morris Bullock
    May 22, 2013

    Ray Miller Strikes again:
    Hi Morris,
    The car is still for sale. The asking price is $22,259 It is located in Billings/MT. The car is registered on my name and the title is clean (no lien). It is in great condition, no dents or scratches. It was always garaged and the regular maintenance was done in time. It wasn’t involved in any accident and has never suffered any kind of damage. Also this is a non-smoker car. If you have any questions regarding the car or you want extra photos or a free Car Fax report just let me know! I have the clean title in hand and can do business today.
    I’m a pilot on cargo flights. My wife broke up with me recently because I’m always away from home. We just sold our house and split the money. This is the last thing I need to sell and split the money with her.Because I’m away most of the time I will not be able to deal in person. But I’ve already arranged the shipping and the title transfer anywhere in the US. I will pay the shipping fees.I want the payment to be handled by Amazon!Payments. They will keep the money until you will receive and inspect the car. You will have 7 days of inspection period. If the car is not like described you will have to ship it back on my expense and they will give you a full refund. This way, you will be able to inspect the vehicle before committing to buy it and I know that you have the money and you aren’t just fooling around.
    Giving the nature of this transaction please note that my sale terms are final and nonnegotiable. In order to move forward I will need your full name, address and phone number.I don’t want to offend you, but the car is priced for a fast sale so please if you intend to apply for a loan or financing do not reply to this message!Looking forward….

    Ray Miller

  18. Morris Bullock
    May 22, 2013

    Sure glad I “Googled” Ray Miller, Cargo Pilot in Billings, Montana before speaking to the guy – I hope I get to speak with him & Sure hope they find this guy(s)!!

  19. Suri Savani
    March 20, 2014

    I have seen a car Mercedes-Benz C Class C200 CDI Blueefficiency £8500.00 the seller has told me that the payment should be done through Amazonpayment Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS) Once I pay them trhe car willbe brought to my residence. But I must do payment first. I think this is a Scam. Please inform should I go ahead or not.

  20. stuart gray
    April 14, 2014

    I have just been conned buy this lowlife for $ 5000.00 if amazon fps exists as it does why have not done any thing about this a—hole it must be doing them some harm. I saw an add for a corvette on carsales.com it was just what my wife wanted so we got intouch with carsales we recieved an email from Ifooi@comcast.net (lacey flint) we were sent 12 photos of the car and aggreed to go ahead we were sent details of an account to transfere funds to which we did and then we started getting these emails saying the funds had not been transered (iknow now that this was a tactic to delay us taking any action untill this a—hole got hold of the cash) we have been intouch with our bank but I think he has got away with an other scam. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES BUY A CAY FROM CARSALES.COM AND CHECK WITH THE REAL AMAZON FPS AND TRY TO GET INFORMATION ON THE PERSON SELLING IF YOU CANNOT TALK TO THEM GET SOMEONE TO INSPECT WHAT YOU AER BUYINC THEN DONT BUY.

  21. STUART
    April 14, 2014

    GOT THE EMAIL ADDRESS WRONG It is I001@comcast.net THIS SUMBAG HAS USED THIS TYPE OF EMAIL ADDRESS BEFORE AS I HAVE FOUND OUT SO PLEASE DO SOME CHECKING IF THE ADDRESS LOOKS LIKE THIS ONE

  22. Raj c
    May 18, 2014

    I was just fooled by exactly the same type of scam. A seller by the name of Marcus Bent emailed (posing himself as a Sargent) me about a 2011 Toyota Avalon with 45K mileage for $9250. They wanted me to pay cash at a Wells Fargo bank which I did. They then sent me another email asking to pay additional $3875 towards insurance which I did as well. The email indicated that all payments have been received and the car is expected to be shipped. I have been waiting patiently for the car for the last 48 hours before I suspected and started to reach when I found this. Of course it is too late now. I filed a police report as well.
    Please be careful folks, the world is not safe out there.
    Raj

  23. Jean
    October 2, 2014

    Hello friend. Today 02-10-2014 there was a scammer who offered me a tablet galaxy note 12.2 for 300USD including shipping cost to Brazil, telling me that the purchase is covered by Amazon FPS. Unfortunatly 2 months ago I lost 100USD from Alibaba.com, so this time I decided to search for some information and I found this site. Be carefull with this person called Shawn Alan who said that is a Detective International and that he is from United Kingdom and actually is in Romania, but when I had to do the payment by western union he gave this name RADULESA / GEORGE who is from Romania too. Friends, they really seem good sellers, so be carefull.