What’s The Scam?

I seem to get more and more misdirected emails these days. I’m not talking about proper spam, but rather what seem to be real emails that were intended for a different Matt: for example, there’s the Central Indiana Christian Songwriters’ Association who email me every now and again inviting me down to open mic nights at their church. Sadly, I’m unlikely to make it down there given that (a) it’s in Indianapolis, and (b) I don’t think they’d appreciate an unbeliever in their midst.

And from time to time I get apparently genuine emails from other people with the same surname as me–most recently a certain Lucas Armstrong from New York set me an mp3 of a track called TSMM by “Perpetual Groove”, which (Wikipedia informs me) is an American “Jam Band” (whatever that means). Apparently “the music has [my] name written all over it.”

One of my colleagues has the same problem: he deals with this by sending them joke replies (and then blogging about it), but I can’t quite bring myself to do so, and usually just hit delete…

But anyway, today I got this email:

Hi,I am the seller of the eBay item :150180086509,and I’ve just been contacted by the eBay staff who informed me that the winner of this item got rejected due to security reasons (either failed to follow through on the purchase commitment or outright refused to do so). Your last auctioned bid prior to being outbided is taken into consideration as eBay policy automatically proclaims you to be the winner by default.Nevertheless,I need your agreement on this so I may contact eBay to confirm your winning position otherwise I’ll relist the item. If you’re interested please confirm by forwarding this message to e-mail and include your name,address and ebay ID. Thanks!

Now I have never used ebay, and my instinct tells me that this is some kind of scam. But what’s the scam?

Suspicious things:

– Why don’t you tell me what the item is or provide a link to it? Searching ebay suggests that the item in question is this one. I’m not sure buying a mountain bike from a chap in Victoria is entirely practical, given that the cost of shipping it half way around the world might be somewhat prohibitive…

– Why do you need my ebay ID? If you have my email, and you know I was the second highest bid, then surely you already know this?

– The grammar isn’t quite as odd as it usually is in 419 scam emails, but I’m still not sure if a native English speaker would say “please confirm by forwarding this message to e-mail”: what does that even mean?

Anyway, I’m curious, but not quite curious enough to want to bother replying (although, oddly, I am still curious enough to go to more effort and blog about it…) so I’m asking the internets: what exactly is the scam here? Anyone?

4 thoughts on “What’s The Scam?”

  1. It could be a attempt to find genuine email addresses. This could have been sent out to thousands of email accounts that were generated by a script of some sort. Anyone that replies will then be added to a list of known live accounts and the real spamming can begin. I think you made the right choice not responding.

  2. Entirely possible. It just seems like a very odd way to go about it. If you want to find “real” email addresses, why not just embed a link to a tracking spacer GIF on your website like everyone else does…

  3. I got one of these mails today – identical wording except for the item ID. Your site was the only result in Google!

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