Credit Card Scam

January 31st, 2012
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The perceived risk of buying and selling using a credit card on the internet was the biggest single barrier to the growth of the World Wide Web.

In the eighteen years since I launched my first web site, that fear has largely been allayed. Internet users who now won’t buy with credit cards are a tiny minority. If your card is compromised in any way, the banks and card companies will refund your money and issue a new card.

But what protection is there for the merchants? The punter must be recompensed — but the financial organisations aren’t going to be the ones who lose. Someone has to pay. It’s going to be the merchants.

Here’s the Dramatis Personae of our little play:

  • Innocent Punter
  • Evil Fraudster
  • Innocent Merchant
  • Innocent Photographers
  • Innocent Credit Card Company
  • Innocent Bank

This is what happened to us. On Nov 17 Evil Fraudster used Innocent Punter’s credit card details to buy six images — over $800 worth — from us, the Innocent Merchant, and download them to Innocent Punter’s apparent email address.

On Nov 25 Innocent Punter signed an affidavit to say his card had been used in a fraudulent transaction, i.e. the purchase of $800 worth of images from fotoLibra. Innocent Merchant isn’t told of this, either by the bank or the credit card company. All we know is that $800 has been paid into our account and the images have been downloaded.

The $800 payment appears on our next bank statement. Christmas intervenes, and we make all the payments to our photographers on Jan 21. The $800 payment is still visible in our bank statements.

This morning, Jan 31, we receive a letter through the post from the bank telling us there has been a fraudulent transaction involving a credit card payment on Nov 17 and they are removing the $800 to pay for it. So the status quo of the Dramatis Personae is now as follows:

  • Innocent Punter — unscathed
  • Evil Fraudster — 6 digital images the richer
  • Innocent Merchant – $800 poorer
  • Innocent Photographers – $400 richer
  • Innocent Credit Card Company – unscathed
  • Innocent Bank – unscathed

My questions are

  1. Who benefits from this fraud? Evil Fraudster gets 6 images (which haven’t been used as far as we can tell). Innocent Photographers get $400. Assuming the photographers aren’t linked to Evil Fraudster, they’re doing better than he is.
  2. We pay the credit card companies substantial annual fees for the privilege of using their service. If they authorise a payment, we have to take their word for it. We cannot check every individual credit card transaction ourselves — that’s what we pay them to do.
  3. So why is Innocent Merchant the only loser in this scenario? If the bank and the card company says ‘Here’s the money — spend it wisely’, how come they can snatch it back nearly three months after they’ve given it to us?
  4. Most importantly, if the fraudulent transaction was reported on Nov 25, why weren’t we informed till Jan 31? That is OUTRAGEOUS.

Damien our IT guru has traced the route the transaction has taken. Unsurprisingly it trails back to those bastard Nigerians again. They’re not doing their country any favours at all. Could anyone ever trust a Nigerian nowadays?

Obviously the villain of the piece is the rogue Nigerian, but I fail to see how he can benefit from the scam. Can anyone enlighten me?

The end result is that we’ll just have to wait longer paying photographers after making a credit card sale from someone we haven’t dealt with before. 99% of credit card sales made through fotoLibra are perfectly legit. In fact, this is only the second one that’s gone wrong. The first one was such a blatant blag that even I could see through it — someone in Brazil signed up as a photographer and uploaded 4 photographs. The following day someone else from Brazil signed up as a buyer and bought the four images for £2,000. We then should have paid the Brazilian photographer £1,000. But we had our suspicions. We waited. And the bank claimed back the money after three months. We were not compensated.

But I cannot figure this scam out.

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61 Responses to “Credit Card Scam”

  1. Suz says:

    One answer is to change merchant account providers as they’re not all as shoddy. Their fraud prevention systems are there to prevent fraud. A friend runs a site and has had chargebacks a few times even though he spent time checking out addresses and phone numbers of customers. Bank still took the money back. If they approve the transaction then they shouldn’t take the money off the merchant. They should foot the loss. Might make them a lot more careful!

    BACS isn’t as reversible so might be another payment option if credit cards are proving to be an issue.

    It is also possible to block sites from being browseable by whole countries. As a few of them have ‘form’ it seems sensible to block those.

    Transactions could also be checked for source of browsing ip and country of credit card. If there is a mismatch then it should be flagged.

    • peta says:

      Well said Sue, I a have to say that I am surprised that Nigeria gets past the first post.

    • peta says:

      “Transactions could also be checked for source of browsing ip and country of credit card. If there is a mismatch then it should be flagged.”

      This is standard e-commerce practice – sue the bank, or someone.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Very useful and sensible Suz, thank you very much indeed.

  2. peta says:

    Maybe they were just testing the card out, before they used it for ‘real world’ products. Either that, or just follow the money.

    Is Damien sure about Nigeria? It is an obvious candidate nation, too obvious I would suggest. It is amazing how thorough IP spoofing can be these days.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Yes, it’s Nigeria. We’ve even got a name, a photo, an email address and a website. But we’re holding on to those for the time being.

      • Chris Burton says:

        I’d be interested to know which photos they stole… seems a very unusual fraud for a scammer?!

        The only way to get around this is to hold monies due for 90 days, after this it starts to get difficult to chargeback… up to a maximum of 6 months when the money can no longer be charged back. Although I guess it wouldn’t make you popular with photographers.

        • Gwyn Headley says:

          Yes, one thing that lessened our suspicions is that the images had a theme — they were all portraits of older people. What if they all turn up endorsing Nigerian Viagra?

  3. Ruth King says:

    I am very sorry to hear what has happened to you. This has also been happening with Payapl transactions, with the seller bearing the cost of the fraud.
    The suggestions below from Suz seem to make sense for your business.

    • Martyn Franklin says:

      Gwyn, I feel for your loss. Having had that done to us in the past twice I understand how painful and how angry that makes you.

      I’ve run my own business for 10 years, been stung twice, but it would take something to get past us now.

      I think the scammers are onto something here that warrants EXTRA caution for a provider of a digital product, this thought I had was quite worrying. I’ll expand further down.

      We ship physical products all over the world. We know now that we never ship anything no matter what, to African, South America, or some European countries. Why? well 90% of the time they are fraud or just never turn up (read Italian postal service).

      So… if we see an order from one of these countries, we cancel the sale or hold the order and contact the person. 99% of the time, we never wind up shipping the part. This way we reduce our exposure to loss. 10 years experience has taught us its better NOT to make a sale to these places and risk the loss, or take the chance and make a small profit. It takes too much to recover from the huge loss, the item, the shipping, the bank charges and your inevitable hatred for all living things for a short while.

      We found that by using Paypal credit card services as our payment provider, we could set many safe guards to protect us from fraud. We can chose countries, IP’s, mis-match card details, fraud hotspots (countries), know postal code black spots and many more options that would flag the sale and place it on hold for a human to go inspect before accepting the transaction. Most of the ones flagged for a look are never accepted.

      If we get one that looks ok, must your experience tells you there is a chance, then we make them pay by cash into our bank account. I am sure these actions may of upset one or two customer in a third world country, but they had the option to pay cash into a bank account, so if they really wanted the product, we were prepared to do so, something was stopping them, what?…..

      I would rather lose one in 1,000 sales than run the risk of seeing that letter from the bank turn up saying fraud, two months after the event….

      I feel for your loss, I am sorry you had to suffer the bad feelings these events bring.
      all the very best for our future
      Martyn

  4. Chris Burton says:

    Like you Glyn, although not quite as long ago, I started my first e-commerce website 13 years ago.

    We were in the right place at the right time in within a couple of years were taking up to a few transactions a day totalling many thousands of pounds. With the increased turnover comes increased fraud, and every single fraud/chargeback we experienced was reported to the police.

    The police were far too inexperienced to do anything (we even had transactions for hundreds of pounds delivered and signed for by the scammer in our very own country, but the police failed to act.)

    We turned to the banks and after escalating and escalating we finally got the message, although not in so many words.

    BANKS BENEFIT FROM FRAUD

    How? Well, they still take their % commission (some unscrupulous banks even charge us, the merchants for chargebacks!).

    I tried to work with both the banks and police but in the end gave up. When AVS checking was introduced about 9 years back we just undertook to do our own due diligence on orders over £xx.

    I’m pleased to say I’m out of that industry now (don’t ask) and my current sites seems to be a much lower risk with only 1 chargeback in about 3,000 transactions.

    Until the police get proper training and the banks decide to help us poor merchants, fraud is something you just have to accept… or take into your own hands if local enough 😉

  5. Chris Fagg says:

    This was just a test to see if the card would work. I’d be surprised if the same fraudulent card ident hadn’t been used to buy luxury goods in the 48hrs following, but of course the credit card people will never tell you. Buying photos is well away from the consumer spending which would normally trigger scrutiny and creates a recent authorised payment history. And of course, my dear Gwyn, if it hadn’t been from you, a trusted source, I would never have opened this link! Best, as ever, Chris

  6. Bill Kay says:

    Follow the money. Your innocent photographer may not be so innocent.
    All the best and hope you are otherwise well
    Bill

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      That was our first suspicion! But we’ve actually met one of the photographers, and the other lives in the Shetland Islands. It’s still possible. But unlikely. How’s Petaluma?

  7. I sell my own books via PayPal. Once again I’ve been hit by someone claiming their account was fraudulently to order a book to be delivered to their address. Yeah, right!
    Because they’re low value £5.99 we don’t get proof of postage so PayPal just deduct it from us. That’s the profit on the next 6 sales gone.
    I’m all in favour of consumer rights but what about retailers? Seems we have no rights and just get to pay the bill every time.
    You’ve my sympathy – it’s the inability to do anything and sheer unfairness that is so annoying.
    John

  8. Mauricio Luz says:

    Financial institutions never paid for their own mistakes. It wouldn´t start now.
    Although I agree with the contents of your post and share your concerns, I can not agree with the use of terms such as “bastards nigerians”. Nigerians are, like every other people, heterogeneous. It seems that their country institutions are being used by many to their wrongdoings. That includes non-Nigerians as well. And no, I am not Nigerian: I am an innocent Brazilian buyer.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Of course Nigerians are heterogenous. A Nigerian friend of mine was killed by other Nigerians. So I don’t buy Shell petrol.

      But some countries like Nigeria have a culture which seems more able to turn a blind eye to this sort of behaviour, or take a more relaxed attitude to what we believe to be illegal or immoral. I was brought up in neighbouring Ghana, and Ghanaians are a lot more straightforward.

      I wish I loved everyone, but I’m not Jesus. I harbour suspicions about Albanians, Romanians, Indonesians, Latvians, Lithuanians (but less so Estonians, oddly). And the only other scam attempt on fotoLibra was … from Brazil!

      Not everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

      • peta says:

        1 in 4 Africans live in Nigeria!

        • Judith Martin says:

          It would be good to think that, if enough honest merchants refuse to ship anything to Nigeria (or Romania or wherever else), the duly fed-up and outraged honest Nigerians etc. will start to press their governments to act on their dishonest compatriots and generally clean up their national image.
          Shell of course is Dutch. If we’re into ethical petrol, we’d probably all better get on our bikes.
          As for the scam, I’m sure Chris Fagg is right – just a toe in the water to see if it’s noticed.

    • Paulo says:

      Agree completely with your point of view Mauricio honest and dishonest people exists in every country of the world ) . Even if I think that some nations by their condition ( economic ,political and social) and legal system,are more often linked to this kind of action.
      Obrigado

  9. Paulo says:

    Unfortunately that is still the risk of any business done online (or with credit cards ). I can just imagine how you feel. Is very upsetting. (Even if the majority of people doing commerce using web are honest). Anyway technology and safety systems are progressing everyday. Isn’t there any (legal) cover or protection for the merchant?

  10. Martyn Franklin says:

    I meant to expand on the digital downland issue but forgot.

    If we get an order pass our system to somewhere we would rather not ship too etc.. then we know to cancel it straight away. In our process every order HAS to get past a human, all ours know what countries not to supply to so we cancel the order.

    In a digital download situation, the process could possibly be all automated so machines make the decisions therefore by passing the human to say no to the order.

    If the machines make all the decisions is exposes a digital download business to increased fraud possibility.

    Martyn

  11. Richard Wright says:

    The banks strike once again. How is it that we (the public) can allow these collossi who rake in or lose billions to run roughshod over us?

    If the system for which we (Fotolibra) pay is inadequate to filter out scams, it is the instigator of that inadequate system who should bear the cost. If that’s impossible it is they who must persuade police forces to act. If that’s impossible at least they have their own insurance – as well as greater resources in the first place.

    Whilst Nigeria has an exceptionally bad name for fraud, it is also a developing economy. Should the rest of the world turn round and block all credit transactions to and from that economy it will hinder that development. Should that start to happen maybe, just maybe, Nigerian authorities will start taking action.

    As was suggested, I strongly suggest complaining to the bank and its ombudsman, and if necessary consider changing banks as publicly as possible thereafter.

    For once I’m sorry that News of the World is no more.

  12. Sarah Saunders says:

    I sympathise greatly, but I would not put all Nigerians in the same pot. God forbid we should all be judged by what some of our countrymen get up to!

  13. Chris Osborne says:

    Yes its a disgrace and there ought to be a cut off date after which the banks are no longer permitted to reclaim money.lets say 1 week or 2 weeks max with all the computer wizardry there should not be a problem,and in spite of “weekends” banks still operate their “bookkeeping”.

    Well I can think of nobody that would do business with Nigeria unless paid cash & cleared funds are received.

    I would add a point that a month or so ago I had a warning that PAYPAL can help themselves to your money whenever the report went on to say that as they are not a bank…. below is the link
    http://www.lockergnome.com/net/2011/12/06/6-reasons-to-be-cautious-when-using-paypal/
    I hope this info is helpfull
    Best wishes
    Chris

  14. Martyn Daniels says:

    Gwyn
    This is a constant battle and is a worry when you get an order take the money and then find the transaction effectively cancelled when the goods have flown.
    Sounds funny given the nature of the goods but no doubt you will see them on another photo site soon or it is a straight scam between buyer and seller and with you in the middle.
    Ah for the good old days of true proforma invoicing and money up front. I believe Amex has also got some great policies.

    Take care Martyn + Annie

  15. Saw a French documentary here that said some huge percentage of Nigerias income is generated via various scams and a bit like the pirates in Somalia no one wants to do anything about it. My business here is B&B and every week I get some scamming *.*!! trying to book rooms and pay using credit cards or cashiers cheques. I have seen one of these cheques and it was so well made, perforations and all that the bank accepted it with no question. Then a few weeks later the fraudster contacts and cancels his booking and asks for a refund…minus the charges (how nice of him). This money shows in the account (even though it is never really there) which gives confidence to send refund via Paypal (from same bank account). So Scamming B. Stard has your money and youfind out a few weeks later from the bank that the cheque was not good……however they paid out on it fast enough……so now the bank takes it from your account.
    I agree totally with you. The scammer gets off, the bank (as we have come to see with banks) always protects itself…..even to the detriment of its customers, and the hard working man or woman is the one left holding the bag. The world crisis has shown us the truth about bankers, that the only thing they care anything about is themselves, not their customers. Unfortunately for now they are supported by influential friends in world governments, that pledge to not let them fail. If a few of them failed I don’t think it would be a bad thing!!

  16. Arno says:

    It’s indeed getting worrisome if those Nigerians get their hands on credit cards and you can’t even check that anymore…
    Where are the days that you could just pull the leg of a Nigerian right back in his face?

    http://fromadifferentangle.net/?p=2401

    Thanks for the heads up. It’s something to keep in mind for all the photographers offering images through their own websites, too.

  17. Julia says:

    Possibly a trial scam that the results haven’t yet materialised fully or have been scotched. As to the delay in informing innocent merchant, iniquitous. Purchases and payments are always “in good faith” so allowing legal comeback where any doubts concerning legality of transactions – may be worth exploring as an injured party. Failing that, due to unjustifiable nature of the delays, may be worth contacting the financial ombudsman? Last resort of course is to veto all transactions with Nigeria! (Its called sanctions when governments do it).

  18. James Morgan says:

    I agree with Chris Fagg, this was a trial run to see if the card worked. They will not probably use the photos for anything. There are however some outfits that track the web for specific exiff data. I have an acquaintance that tracked down a stolen D3 in this manner.
    Regards

  19. kevin says:

    I am sorry to hear about the fraud and think it an usual item to take. It sounds as though you are just accepting the bank has the right to do that. It may be you have in fact made sure of the legal position and that they are within their rights.

    It is a big enough an amount to make a fight of it. Ask the financial ombudsman what the legal position is, if there is any doubt. I would not give it back after such a delay and as you say, they authorise it.

  20. Mike Mumford says:

    Yes, it has happened to us too, your images and my books bought online with a Nigerian credit-card. I agree it may have been a “test run” to see if the scam transaction would go through?
    Like you and the rest of us internet traders we are in credit until the “credit-card banks” reverses and uncovers the debit scam. We should all complain, it is the “banks” who should take their loss, not the innocent trader. The first bank to offer a credit-card guarantee against a card fraud, is the bank I could do business with.

    • Dan says:

      On a large microstock website, I have been losing credits to fraud over the last few years, as has just about everyone.

      Not so much now, but it was quite frequent a year or so ago.

      Generally, they will claw back the lost credits a few months after the transaction occurred. So, presumably the credit card companies are slow to report fraudulent transactions to merchants.

      The fraudsters seem to operate as follows…

      Pinch high-quality images from somewhere.

      Create an account on a stock site, and submit those photos for sale.

      Create a buyer account on the same site.

      Use the buyer account to purchase photos from their other account, but also buy photos from legit sellers’ accounts – to make their activities look normal.

      They will cash in the credits on their seller account, before they are discovered.

      Any other purchases they made will be reversed eventually, and the legit photographers will have credits deducted from their accounts.

  21. L Champion says:

    Understandably annoying and upsetting for all.
    There are e-comm schemes such as M’card Secure and Verified by Visa that offer protection to the Innocent Merchant as they require the input of a password only known to the Innocent Punter. That way, the Evil Fraudster cannot run away with the goods. But I don’t know the costs and complexities of implementing that solution. It all comes down to ££/$$ (as usual)

  22. Stephen Barnes says:

    I’m NOT saying that this happened in this case, and as Peta says, it’s probably just a test of the credit card….

    …but, what if the fraudster had a friend who posed as “Innocent Photographer” i.e. was actually “Evil Photographer”? Evil Fraudster steals credit card details and uses them to purchase images worth $800 from “Evil Photographer”. Everyone is unscathed except “Innocent Merchant”, and “Evil Photographer” and friend are $800 richer. It could even be that “Evil Fraudster” and “Evil Photographer” are one-and-the-same.

  23. Sharon says:

    I’m on the other end of this…a card holder whose account was “skimmed” and used about a year ago. My credit card was issued by a U.S. credit union, and…luckily for me…they have a VERY vigilant security company monitoring card use. I received a phone call one day asking if I or someone I’ve given my card to had been making purchases at a gas station in Florida (I live in California). I was told my card had been used to make three $75 purchases in less than an hour, and they’d just put a hold on my card. I assured them I was at home and had both cards in my possession, so they advised me my account would be closed and I needed to go in to my local credit union branch to sign the necessary avidavits, etc., to take the charges off my account and transfer all my transactions to a new credit card number. (And I had no credit card to use for two weeks, while the new account was opened and cards were sent to me.)

    I had NO idea the merchant gas station in Florida might end up eating these transactions. And the card provider never gave me its name, so I could not have “warned” it even if I’d thought of it. I offered two possible places my card had been used recently where it might have been compromised (an out-of-town self-service gas station I’d never used before, and an online business I’ve never used before). I’ve since read that credit card companies often use data-mining techniques to find common locations where owners of compromised credit cards shopped, so they can tell where the skimming (or other fraud) probably took place. But I never learned anything from my credit card provider that warned me to be vigilant at any of the places I’d used my card.

    I check my credit card charges online almost daily now. But even if this happened again, I don’t know how I’d be able to contact and warn a seller I don’t know and probably never heard of. I don’t think it is fair that the seller gets stuck with the loss…I always assumed it was the “huge” card companies…VISA or MasterCard itself…that absorbed the losses. Obviously I was wrong, but I don’t know how card holders can help fight this problem.

    MY fraudster was especially stupid. Because he used my card out of my normal shopping area, the charges were immediately flagged. There were no “test” charges on my card. I couldn’t understand why/how someone would buy so much gas (what he filling a tanker?). But I was told that these fraudsters hang out at self-serve gas stations, and stop other purchases, saying they need cash and there’s no way to get a credit card cash advance nearby, or they swiped their ex-girlfriends card and are getting back at her, or some other story, but they will let the purchaser use the card for a maximum purchase on the card (at the time, $75 at gas stations) if the other guy gives them $25 in cash. Seems like a pretty small profit for the risk and hassle to set this up!

  24. Antony Roe says:

    I have had Nigerian scammers trying to catch me for a mug when offering items on Ebay. I will not deal with ANY African country. I am also very leery of Middle Eastern and Asian outfits. So far I have been lucky but the sums involved with me are small compared to yours. Stick with it and leave anything African alone. 40′ disinfected barge poles come to mind.
    Regards Tony Roe

  25. Isaac says:

    Hi Gwyn, Its quite unfortunate that this sweeping generalization affects those who are not trying to scam people but just going about their normal transactions more than the scammers themselves. I do take particular issue with the use of the term “BASTARD NIGERIANS”, this is as much of an unfair generalization as insinuating that all arabs are terrorists or every english football fan is a hooligan. There are several honest Nigerians trying to make a living day to day, we bear the brunt of this unfortunate reputation, I’ve been on this mailing list for years and have never encountered such a generalized response. There is an enormous amount of international commerce between Nigeria and the rest of the world, everything from oil to agriculture and with this much traffic there is bound to abuse by opportunists. The banks are at the centre of this issue as they should bear the cost of tracking down offenders (we all just buy into this system of credit or debit cards) the onus is on them to keep the system clean so perhaps more attention should be directed to them than just the “Nigerian”, after all it could be anyone from any country on earth next time; the loop holes are not only exploited by “Nigerians”.

    PS
    On a lighter note, kindly remember that when British troops came to Nigeria bearing false treaties and used alliances with the Queen to defraud an entire nation into becoming a colony, no one labelled them the “BASTARD BRITISH”. Always good to remember that not everyone does what they say they will or seems as honest as they appear. It is the basic human condition.

    Yes I am a Nigerian>

  26. Bob Raftopoulos says:

    I think the photographer should refund the $400 no ifs or buts. It’s called doing the right thing.

    • Ade Davis says:

      I definitely am not sure about the photographers refunding the $400, after all, they have intellectual property.

      Isn’t there an insurance for this or something?

      I’m no expert but so far there doesn’t seem to be a deterrent and, therefore, scamming will continue to be profitable. And no, I do not condone any of this malicious behaviour, but these people do seem to be getting away with it and they don’t even seem to be that clever

  27. Pat says:

    Gwyn, You have a *really* long email from me (apologies, but there are a few practical bits in there…) but I’m glad a lot of the posters so far have taken a fairly sensible and sympathetic, constructive approach, rather than just throw the racist card. Scumbagism is, in my experience, no respecter of national boundaries. I’m going to go out on a limb here, having read prior comments. This’ll probably be controversial but… newsflash… it’s not impossible to put these scumbags behind bars! I’ve got a few doing chokey for screwing with me as I type 🙂 And Lordy, does that feel good. Pity it’s not hard labour, but we can’t have it all. And I’ve done this across national boundaries/jurisdictions.

    Now, Gwyn has ended up badly out of pocket, and he’s done the correct and honourable thing in paying his ‘suppliers’ even though he’s been ripped off. (I’m a similar ‘personality’ who would do the same even if it meant me going hungry… but go figure.. I’m posting on here) So some scammer gets the apparent benefit. I laud Gwyn for that, and I’ve mailed him a few ideas. One of those ideas involves basically making those images effectively worthless (although it’s not clear what the ‘resale’ value of these would actually be in any case). So we’ll see what Gwyn says. We are a large following, and if we can help, we will? Right? Won’t involve anything illegal or immoral. Promise….

    I’ve a few more tips from the information security/e-commerce world that I’ve passed on to Gwyn – that’s where I work. Well, in my day job. By night, I’m helping small businesses with IT. Sort of like Batman, except without them making comics or cartoons about me. And that really hurts….except, I suppose, who’d by a doll of a balding 40 year old IT guru… (although I do know a few folk doing time for cybercrime with my name in the witness sheet. I suppose they’d like a voodoo doll. Bargain at £19.99.. knock your punk ass out, guys. And don’t drop the soap…..)

  28. Peejayem says:

    I agree that something should be done to stop this happening, but I really do take exception to the fact that you are painting all Nigerians with the same brush. I am offended at your phrase “Unsurprisingly it trails back to those bastard Nigerians again”.
    I am a white person and am friends with quite a few lovely Nigerian people, in fact my friend (white) was invited and went to a wedding in Nigeria last year. Not all Nigerians are fraudsters, like not all Irish or Moslems are terrorists.
    Please be careful about labelling people, and especially about your language.

  29. Michaela says:

    My credit card was skimmed for $900, the bank after a delay were extremely helpful in getting this back for me. The fraud originated in Moscow and I had only used the card twice in the month, both to pay a monthly fee (this site was one of them). I now have a new card, but am quite reluctant to use it. the card I now use is a Debit card with limited funds being deposited on it, it will be this one I will use in future. If money is not on the card, purchases will not be made.
    I did not realise that the merchant was made to pay for the fraud, I had believed that this was part of the bank’s accountability.
    Prior to this fraud, my bank rang to query a $100 transaction that I made to the UK, where I was going on holiday; my unanswered question to them was why not query the $900 which showed as an email address on the transaction.

  30. Pat says:

    Em… to address a few possible misconceptions, just in case they should exist. Situations in which you can legally win as a vendor in a CC fraud: Nil. Situations in which you, as a vendor, can lose legally in a CC fraud: All. Trust me. I’ve called a CC card provider before a ‘dubious’ sale (just a high-ticket item, natural caution. Like what does Dr Ahmod Addad (name changed to protect a right scumbag..) with an address in a crappy block of apartments in inner city London want with top-notch sporting gear???). Assured card OK by CC provider. Next day: Fraud. Chargeback to merchant. Do not pass go, do have cash clawed back from your merchant account, do not recover goods. Nett loss to merchant, about 1500 euro.

    Moral of story: System biased in favor of scumbags, cc companies (spot the difference). Honest traders – hire, befriend or blackmail the hardest ‘hackers*’ you can, to advise you how to avoid the crud.

    *Em, real hackers, contrary to what you might believe or read on the internet, actually try to research and warn about problems, and offer advice (often FOC, but can provide evidence of professional certifications via reputable bodies) on how to not fall into the many dead-fall traps that exist on the internet to snare the unwary. We occasionally get vindictive and put some rightly-deserving arsehole in prison. Least we can do for y’all…..

  31. Pat says:

    I’m going to risk pissing people off again, but you seem like sincerely honest and smart people. And I mean that. But what I need you to do is to accept a new and possibly controversial mind-set. A lot of otherwise smart, educated folks believe that policemen are their friends, the law holds no fear if you have nothing to hide and it will protect you … em, the law is actually an ass, and it dances to whoever has the biggest carrot… which is the credit card companies.

    Got that? Accept? Read on. Deny? Please hang up now……..Having been financially ass-raped (that may/may not be a pun, your call….) with their full complicity once, and in other cases only been able to recover monies/goods after we have personally interacted with law enforcement to trap (not entrap) miscreants, I have zero faith in CC companies to actually act on the part of us, customers, legitimate vendors.

  32. Hi this may be of some help. As you hsve a name etc you need to move quickly.

    First thing is to notify The South African Police Service who established a Task Team within the Commercial Branch to investigate 419 scams. Here http://www.saps.gov.za/crime_prevention/commercial_crime/419_scams/project.htm

    Most service providers have been requested by Law Enforcement agencies around the world to remove websites and e-mail addresses of fraudsters when they are identified. The hosting providers simply refuse to do so and repeatedly demand court orders to comply with requests. This is an impossible situation for Law Enforcement agencies. Our service will change the way in which service providers’ deal with Nigerian 419 fraudsters.

    Once a Nigerian 419 letter is reported to the their legal professionals will confirm whether the letter is indeed a scam. Notifications will then be forwarded to the hosting providers of the websites, e-mail addresses as well as to the telephone operators of the telephone numbers involved.

    Once the notification has been served that their technology is being used to commit crime, the service provider will be obliged to act. they will keep record of all processes followed. Once a person falls victim to a Nigerian 419 Scam he or she can contact them to determine whether a hosting provider was notified of the client using the account for criminal activities.

    If so, all their documents will then be made available to victims who can use such documents when launching Civil as well as Criminal actions against hosting providers and phone operators who did not act after they were notified of irregularities. their team of legal experts will also be available to give testimony in any trial.

    In addition to that as you effectively paid for the images then they shoul be yours to re sell and re-claim the profits. for expences incurred.

    The banks need to change their policies maybe this should be given more publicity I suggest the London newspapers.

  33. Reg Warboys says:

    Gwyn the Nigerian bastards sit hundreds in a room all on computers running scams all the time, if the Irianians can bring down an American Drone Im sure the bastards in Nigeria can get into your credit card.

  34. Sad to know about this lose.
    I think you must ask the banks which provide merchant accounts and find the complete process and time required to be informed when a real buyer rejects to pay and reports fraud. You must pay the check to the photographers after this time. This is unfortunate but the only way to get rid of this lose.

    • In my opinion. This is the responsibility of the Bank to check for fraud and verify the correct information. Bank must pay you because they did not inform you in time (before you paid the Photographers).

  35. Kim says:

    One of the exacerbating issues is the way banks ‘kite’ cheques and credit-card charges. They, for example, have your cheque paid into your account and they can use that money for as many days as possible for their own ends. So if you deposit on a Friday before a public holiday, you may not actually get the funds until the following Thursday. In that interim period the bank have carte blanche to use your money as they will. Fortunately this is changing, but very slowly. Certainly bank deposits have now, in most cases, been reduced to a matter of hours, and even cheques are now down to one or two days. The only thing outstanding is credit-card charges. Until these transactions are reduced to a reasonably short period of time, the wicked fraudster can use the ‘kiting’ period to his advanatage. Particularly, as in your case, over an extended holiday period. Legislation could close this loophole in a matter of weeks. We should all bug our local MPs 🙂

  36. E Strodl says:

    A malicious prank…can’t think it would be someone with a grudge.
    Have you taken the case up with the financial ombudsman? if the credit card company authorised the payment surely they are the ones who should be liable

  37. charles fox says:

    No, 1 in 4 do not live in Nigeria

    Shell operate in other places as well and other energy companies have as bad and worse track records.

    This is, by all accounts, a fairly typical scam as you well know by now, with the others giving a fairly comprehensive list of ‘what to do’ next time. Sorry it happened, treat is as a learning experience.

    And you don’t have to love everyone but don’t expect all people to have the same morals as you and don’t expect every Nigerian to be bad.

  38. Anupam says:

    I think it is better to pay Photographers after receiving the money from buyers.
    Maybe the buyer and the photographer (seller) are the same person or they have some link?
    Why for those bloody bastard scammers, Merchant will suffer? Moreover, in the longterm this also affects on the business of Photographers and their faith. Genuine photographers & Buyers should raise their voice against such scams.

  39. Vern Southard says:

    Look out for a bank check for a large purchase of images where they say they will cover expenses for shipping etc and keep the change. The checks look exactly like bank checks but once you deposit them in your account they are worthless and if you have used those funds you will owe them back to the bank. The Nigerians tried that with me on the purchase of a refrigerator I was selling on line. Sorry you got caught in the scam. Doesn’t make sense that they would try to get free images unless they are reselling them to ad agencies. Maybe a new scam for those Nigerian crooks.

  40. vernon says:

    I feel for you but my fluffy head is too confused by all this. I have been too scared to use the internet & am reluctant to buy on it although Annie does so with insouciance and seems to get away with it. I know my bank account, for what it is, would be sucked away like the proverbial eskimo Nell. All I can say is that it’s a very very wicked world and that Nigerians are without doubt the wickedest of them all. not that this is the remptest comfort to you V

  41. vernon says:

    I feel for you but my fluffy head is too confused by all this. I have been too scared to use the internet & am reluctant to buy on it although Annie does so with insouciance and seems to get away with it. I know my bank account, for what it is, would be sucked away like the proverbial eskimo Nell. All I can say is that it’s a very very wicked world and that Nigerians are without doubt the wickedest of them all. not that this is the remptest comfort to you V

  42. […] been ripped off by a Nigerian scammer (details here) we asked our local MP Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru) if there was anything he could do to […]

  43. Peter says:

    Long ago in the 1970s and until his death in the 1980s my father was involved in credit management with one of the (then) big six Swiss pharmaceutical companies. Even back then he said Nigeria was a nightmare. So frequent were the problems, the company had seriously considered putting a stop on doing business with any company based in Nigeria.

    Personally, and I stress this is only a personal view not a recommendation, I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole.