Aaand, today is a good day. My cousin Adam got married to a lovely girl named Taylor- congratulations to you both! Paling in comparison to that but still exciting- there is a happy ending to my scam story! Read the last few blog entries if you’re not up to speed.
I got a money order today from That Person Who Is Technically No Longer A Scammer, so I guess I can’t say I’ve been scammed anymore! It was 6 months after the purchase, 4 months after the chargeback, but I got my money. The contest is still on, though, so feel free to share your scammy stories for a chance to win some nail polish.
If you have been the victim of a online payment reversal scam and you/the recipient are in the US, here’s a quick outline of what to do (and what not to do!)
1. Watch for people making huge orders/purchases/swaps in a quick period of time. I got hit at Christmas time, when it’s not an unusual pattern, but just keep an eye out.
2. Save all your shipping receipts and make sure you send high-value merchandise, swaps, etc. by a trackable mail system. Otherwise Paypal will not even consider your case. If the scammer won’t pay you back, go straight for legal action. Mail fraud is a felony that is taken more seriously than I expected.
3. Contact the police or the local District Attorney where the scammer lives. They may treat mail fraud as a “theft by deceit” or on a charge akin to passing a bad check. Try and find other people who got scammed and type up a statement and sign it, then send it to the DA.
4. Contact the US Postal Inspection Service. They investigate cases of mail fraud. Better still if you can give them the names of other victims and a statement signed by as many victims as possible. The case is initiated entirely online and updated information can be submitted that way too.
5. Contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center because they handle all sorts of online crimes.
6. Write a letter to the legal department of the payment processor that was used (Paypal, Google Checkout, etc.) Tell them the transaction was fraudulent and see if they will issue a partial credit. Another victim in my case did this and got a partial refund.
7. Write to the owner of the home where the goods were delivered (aka The Scene of The Crime). The owner should be on record because it’s public information. Let them know what their tenants/family members are doing. No homeowner wants their address to be associated with felony mail fraud. Be sure to include the delivery date of the items, copies of feedback received, and a copy of the chargeback information. Spell the case out clearly for the homeowner, as they also have an interest in getting the situation resolved, plus they often personally know the scammer.
8. Contact the online venue where the items were sold or swapped and present your case. They can shut down accounts and block IP addresses. Unfortunately, it’s easy to swap or mask IPs but it’s better than nothing.
A combination of as many of these as possible will go a long way to getting the situation rectified. One other thing that I learned from working for lawyers: Do not threaten any legal action that you are not absolutely 100% prepared to follow through on. These people have a sixth sense for who they can sucker and exactly how much they can get away with. They can also spot a bluff pretty well. Time is usually on their side, so get going fast once it’s clear that the issue will not be settled outside the legal system.
All’s well that ends well!