[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is based on my FB experience on March 1, 2023. It should be be made clear that what happened to me (and others who were victims) is NOT the fault of Facebook and shouldn’t be misconstrued as criticism of Facebook Marketplace. It’s but a reflection of the times we’re living in and, in my estimation, a good example to illustrate some of the pitfalls to be aware of when selling items online.]
Like so many others these days I use local Facebook groups and Marketplace to sell my books that are part of my other business ArthursUsedBooks.com. I also use this venue to sell personal items and this article is based on an item that I have had listed on Marketplace for awhile.
Part of the selling side involves collecting the money for the item being sold. There are various aspects to this based upon where the actual item is located and where the buyer is located. On a local level a seller can get paid in cash for their item when they meet the buyer in town or wherever else they’ve agreed to meet in order to finalize the transaction.
Nowadays one of the more common methods of getting paid is to use Interac e-Transfer where the buyer simply sends the money to the seller’s financial institution online and once it has been deposited into their account the seller then arranges for the delivery of said item. Such was to be the case in the following tale.
Interac e-Transfer is an independent Canadian company located in Toronto, Ontario and many banks and financial institutions use it including my own which is CIBC. When I finally realized that the buyer was attempting to scam me I went to their website where I found a place to report the incident. It was headed:
Report scams or phishing incidents – email@example.com
My letter will explain in more detail the events of that day.
Apparent Serious eTransfer from Interac to my CIBC account
From: arthursusedbooks firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Interac Scams email@example.com
Cc: arthursusedbooks firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 10:57 AM
Yesterday, March 1, 2023 I was communicating with a prospective customer on Facebook’s Marketplace discussing the sale of a 14k Gold Necklace which the customer was inquiring about. They wrote to me telling me that they would purchase the item and I asked them to send the money to my ArthursUsedBooks email address which is in my CIBC account in Quesnel, B.C.
The customer, Gabrielle Goltz, agreed to send the cost of the item to my email@example.com account. Within a matter of a few minutes I received a new email in my Inbox stating: “You’ve received payment of $1600.00CAD from Gabrielle Goltz (INTERAC e-TRANSFER)”
In the “From” section it read: “From Interac Etransfer firstname.lastname@example.org“
I am including in this email a screenshot of the body of the email which shows all the information contained in it. The little blue/grey titled square next to the line saying “Transfer On Hold…Until (Shipment Tracking Number is Provided)” in the original email appears as a blinking type of icon.
I had never received such an email before so I became a bit suspicious about it but told the customer that I would send off the item and then send them the tracking number. (I have screenshots and the text of the full exchange between us on FB Messenger).
When I went into the Post Office in Quesnel I showed the clerk a copy of the email which I had printed off at home and brought along with me. They looked at it and said they had never seen such a thing before. Another clerk also said the same and then advised me to take it to my bank and see what they had to say. I went to my CIBC bank and showed it to the Manager and another staff person working there and they also had never seen or heard of such a thing and advised me to not sent the item to the address (which was in California, USA).
I didn’t send the item and replied to the sender in Marketplace messenger that their email appeared to be a scam. I haven’t heard back from them since yesterday afternoon.
The email itself is very authentic looking and you may already be aware of it for all I know but I would like to hear back from you regarding this matter. I am also an online publisher and editor of the Cariboosentinel.ca. It’s my intention to publish a story on this but I would first like to hear from you so I have all the facts correct.
Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide me with.
***[Editor’s Note: Please understand that the name of the purchaser in the email which I received, i.e, Gabriele Goltz, is a real person and she does live in Germany and her friends on her page are also real persons. The only thing that isn’t real and doesn’t show is the FACT that the scammer was able to impersonate this person after first conning her into believing a similar story and then stealing not only her profile and money from her account but now is using her Facebook page to con others who may be selling other high-end items on Marketplace.]
After writing to Interac I went back into Messenger and did a search on the person called Gabriele Goltz. As it turned out they were living in Germany. There wasn’t much on the Home Page and there were only 7 Friends showing. I looked more closely and saw that 6 of them were in Germany but the 7th Friend was living in Prince George, B.C. Canada! I clicked on the name and it took me to the person and their page. They were also running a business in P.G. and had a website url and when I checked it out there was an email which I was able to use so I wrote them and briefly explained what I had been experiencing. I asked them to give me a phone call so we could discuss the situation and later that same day they did call and I was able to finally get “the rest of the story”.
The one thing that really made the con appear legitimate was the body of the email and the way it presented itself as an actual Interac e-Transfer embellished with the Canada Post logo. For anyone who didn’t read the fine print and look at the actual email address which was a “@gmail.com” address, one which a large corporation like Interac would never be using, overall it was pretty authentic looking.
Hopefully this example will be beneficial to others if they’re selling an expensive item and they get a similar message telling them to send the item first and then send the tracking number to a bogus email.
It would be appreciated if anyone reading this article has experienced similar cases that they could share them in the comments section.