SCAM on the cannon

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

  • Internet Scam

    Internet Scam

Written by Victoria Brunet


When using thecannon.ca for textbook selling and classifieds in this busy time of the new year please be advised; there's a scam going on! Multiple people have come forward to share a common experience that could have put them into serious debt.

Most cases are very similar; students with a post on thecannon.ca were approached by a man who wanted to buy their text books and have them shipped to France. The person was pushy about getting things done quickly. He wrote almost daily emails to the seller, all with very poor grammar. He tried to use pity and guilt to speed up the process by talking about his 'dead brother', saying he needed the money back soon to help with funeral costs. Multiple times he included pictures of a dead person in a gruesome car crash.

He used at least three names; Frank Desmond, Garry Mansion, and Brown Johnson.

The scam works when the buyer sends an excess amount of money to the seller in the form of postal money orders. Then he requests that the excess funds be made available through a delivery service, in this case, western union. He claims the excess funds are for shipping and the remaining funds should be sent back along with the package. So the seller would deposit these cheques, take out the money, and send the money back along with the package to the buyer. Soon the bank would discover that the cheques are fake and would cancel them, leaving the seller in debt.

Chelsea O'Connor, an applied human nutrition student, received a 850 dollar money order for a text book from Garry Mansion. "He was very forceful saying; 'why haven't you gotten the payment yet?' I didn't know what a money order was so i took it to the post office where I was told it was a fake and I should go to the cops." Because she avoided becoming a victim the police could not follow up on the matter, but they told her to cut off all contact with him and inform him she had contacted the police.

"This guy is scary. Technically, I thought I might have 850 dollars of his money and I didn't want him to come after me" O'Connor said.

This scam has not just happened to those selling text books, others who were selling anything from apartments for rent to clothing were targeted as well.

If YOU have had an interaction with this same scam, possibly with a different name or tactic you can post your story below.

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  1. Posted by: Lara on Jan 10, 2008 @ 10:21pm

    I think this guy has definitely contacted me. I am selling a TV tuner for a Macbook and he contacted me asking about the price, even though it is clearly listed. He then asked for my name, address and telephone number so that he could send me the payment. I'm not sure if it was the really poor grammar or the request for so much personal information but something seemed very off to me so I didn't reply and I am very glad that I didn't.

  2. Posted by: on Jan 10, 2008 @ 11:18pm

    I had the same thing happen to me. This guy didn't say any of the names you mentioned. He went by the name of solomon joan. He sent me 3 money orders for $850 to buy photographs.. whoever tries to buy $850 worth of photographs is obviously shifty, so i reported him. It's a shame there is no way to really stop this from happening

  3. Posted by: mika on Jan 10, 2008 @ 11:27pm

    ya!! omg i thought it was just some loser you wanted to buy my stuff for alot! i forget the details of his email since i deleted it but he basically wanted ALL my information so that he could send me a cheque...i just clicked delete ^_^

  4. Posted by: Paul on Jan 11, 2008 @ 10:26am

    The same scam has been circulating just about everywhere on internet classified sites for well over a year now. Same process most of the time and the buyer claims to be from someone in Europe and is there for studies or work. Either way, good thing people are paying a careful eye to it. I have seen people lose hundreds of dollars to it, sadly.

  5. Posted by: Becky on Jan 11, 2008 @ 11:00am

    I have definitely spoken with this loser. He used the name Walter Freedman, and said that he was from New York. He enquired about a car that I had posted, and was very pushy about asking for my address and personal info. He then said that he wanted the car before Christmas, (this was early December). He said that he was going to have the car shipped from Canada to the U.S., which is stupid, since the shipping cost more than the car. He then said that he would sent me a cheque for the entire amount (including shipping), and then that I would have to pay the shipping company. I thought this sounded fishy, so told him that the deal was off...
    Hopefully nobody get sucked in by this creep...

  6. Posted by: Zamir on Jan 11, 2008 @ 2:05pm

    Me too!!
    i was selling my psych books, and he sent me these cheques. but he sent them right before the holidays, so i didnt get them till i came back. i told him i couldnt get the cheque (since i live in res) and they took my keys, so i dont have access to them. he wanted me to somehow get the cheque. thats when i started ignoring him, and the e-mails stopped. when i came back, i found a piece of mail waiting for me from Garry, and it was two cheques each being $750! i was VERY hesitant, and left it aside. today i find out that it is a scam!!! good thing i didnt cash it in!

  7. Posted by: Kris on Jan 11, 2008 @ 4:05pm

    I'm selling my desktop on the cannon and I got an email in my junk mail folder from this guy, same story. I never responded because it sounded fishy but wow, I never would have guessed this is so huge!

  8. Posted by: Tim on Jan 12, 2008 @ 1:53pm

    This guy contacted me wanting to buy my laptop, and wanted me to devulge some information i.e. where I lived and such so he could send a money order. The story I got was that he wanted to send the laptop to his brother in France. His attitude ect seemed a bit odd and for those interested, and having chatted with him on MSN briefly, I knew it was a scam. In hindsight, I should've saved the convo... He's on MSN Messenger at his Frank Desmond email address if anyone still has his email. Someone should pass that info on to the police as it could potentially bait him. I'll look some more into it myself and see what I can do.

  9. Posted by: Angela on Jan 13, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    I got a message asking if I'd take a money order for a textbook. I deleted it - who would buy a used textbook overseas?!

  10. Posted by: Stephanie on Jan 13, 2008 @ 2:29pm

    Last May, "Francis Coker" from England contacted me wanting to rent a room in my house for his daughter who was apparently going to grad school in Guelph. It was very suspicious. He was sold on the room very quickly, before I gave much info. He was eager to pay. He replied frequently, but I also found that he would 'forget' important details I had mentioned in the previous e-mails. Like he'd ask how much the rent was more than once. He also didn't give me much info about his daughter, and I found it odd that she wasn't involved at all in this decision. I looked for his daughter on the uoguelph directory and couldn't find anyone with the name he said.

    I ended up just not replying and finding someone else to rent out the room. The whole thing seemed fishy to me, and I bet if we proceeded with payment I would've gotten a money order with a large amount of money in the mail...

  11. Posted by: Stephanie on Jan 13, 2008 @ 3:12pm

    So I still have the emails... the last one reads:

    got the pictures if the accomodation and i will like to proceed with the payments of the apt now and the mode of payments for the accomodation will be by
    issued to you by Via Money order inother to secure the apt for my daugther and
    the following details will be needed for the check to be issued and mailed to you .

    FULL NAME .......
    ADDRESS .........
    PHONE NUMBER......
    I will forward to hear back from you with the payment details and i
    will ike you to consider the .apt rented to my daugther .


    Francis coker

  12. Posted by: brad on Jan 13, 2008 @ 10:29pm

    Hey this guy contacted me too, he asked for ppictures of my book and stuff and he went by some hispanic name, weird

  13. Posted by: Sean Kwok on Jan 13, 2008 @ 10:32pm

    Watch out for the same scam on eBay! I was selling my cell phone and this guy offered to pay twice what I was expecting for it. I agreed to have him transfer the funds to my paypal account first and shortly after I received an email which seemed to be from paypal to my email account. But upon closer inspection, the email was really from [email protected] FOR cw.paypal.uk, meaning it wasn't an actual paypal email. The buyer "Nicholas Pivadet" wanted me to ship the phone via UPS and send the tracking number to paypal, which would then release the deposited funds into my account (ya right!) I quickly reported this spoof email to paypal who is now investigating the case.

  14. Posted by: Sean Kwok on Jan 13, 2008 @ 10:36pm

    this is the email:

    Dear seller,
    I saw this item much envitiable to what i'd need as a gift for my Son who is on an intensive programme with chevron abroad. Firstly i have know the perfect working condition of this item and if you'll be able to allow me to purchase it right away for a quick sales,if yes then i'll be glad to offer you $400 USD including the shipping and handling via UPS COURIER SERVICE, as i can't wait till bid ends,and also i'll like to ask if you be able to release item for shipment upon receiving the payment confirmation from paypal stating that your money has been confirmed.Basically i will be paying you via paypal cos is fast and secure pls if this is ok by you kindly get back to me with your details like Full name, and your paypal valid email address so that i can make the payment right away..looking forward to read from you. reply me back to this email address bellow [email protected]

  15. Posted by: Ryan Genier on Jan 14, 2008 @ 12:24am

    Ok, you would have to be really stupid to fall for these emails... I received one for a textbook that I was selling, and instantly knew that something was suspicious about it. I have no pity for anyone that loses money to these scam artists. If you receive an $850 money order for a textbook, you must be an idiot to not think that something wasn't wrong.

    How about you people show some restraint and cautiousness when dealing with people that request all of your personal information.

    Problems with these scams only arise because idiots around the world are only too happy to give out all of their information. And you wonder why we have a problem with identity theft...

  16. Posted by: Chelsea O'Connor on Jan 14, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Well I totally agree that it would take some level of irresponsibility to fall for this which is why no one has heard of a case where someone has become a victim. Only sharing cases of the ways that this idiot contacted people. In my case it was for a distance ed course, I thought it slightly plausible that the buyer could be coming from a distance. Of course well before the money order it was clear something was wrong which is why the process ended there. There is no harm in warning people.

  17. Posted by: melissa on Jan 14, 2008 @ 11:18am

    i definatly got contacted, for selling my car i had asked 1200 he was going to send 2500 to ship it as well , when i didn't get it i sold it to someone else, that was in november

  18. Posted by: John on Jan 14, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    This guy has been active for some time now. My first year at school I attempted to sell my guitar on the cannon and this guy went so far as to actually mail me an obviously counterfeit cheque for $5000 and ask me to cash it and send him the difference.

  19. Posted by: Robyn on Jan 14, 2008 @ 8:42pm

    This guy e-mailed me too!!! He wanted to buy my computer monitor "for his family in France". Luckily, he seemed sketchy enough to me and I told him cash only, in person. He didn't contact me after that...

  20. Posted by: Robyn on Jan 14, 2008 @ 8:48pm

    PS: He called himself "james desmond"
    [email protected]

  21. Posted by: MJ on Feb 1, 2008 @ 7:07pm

    He's contacted me too....it seemed suspicious. Below is the latest message. We're selling a stroller!!

    Thanks for getting back to me,I'm Okay with the price,I want you to get back to me with the following information Below:

    Your full Name:

    Your full Contact information including your Zip Code:

    Your Valid Cell phone number:

    so that the payment can be mailed out to you without any delay,Meanwhile i have someone that will come for the immediate pick_up when you get the payment,I look forward to Hear from you Soon,Thank's.

    PS: He's James Desmond

    [email protected]

  22. Posted by: BF on Feb 1, 2008 @ 7:36pm

    Just tried the same thing on me as James Desmond - same email.
    Thanks guys - "googled him".
    What an ***hole.

  23. Posted by: doug on Feb 1, 2008 @ 7:52pm

    i just posted an article on nl classifides and within minutes i got a reply from james desmond wanting to purchse. he asked for personal info. and he wanted it asap. it was exactly as the email above. thought it was fishy and declined to give info.

  24. Posted by: FP on Feb 3, 2008 @ 10:04pm

    The person who contacted me originally was JENEFER RAY -sent me 2 cheques for $850 and then instructed me to send the rest to her private shipper (BROWN JOHNSON [email protected]) who was supposed to pick my book up from my house and told me that the rest of the money was to be forwarded to her shipper to pay him for the private pick up and additional deliveries he was to make in the city AND France after picking up my book. Yet another tactic.
    The points she described as KEY indicators: WRITTEN not typed money orders, name signed on the bottom is not the person i was dealing with (Maria Davies), and the odd instructions the person gave me. Just thought i'd let everyone know that they might try this tactic on you.

  25. Posted by: Conrad on Feb 4, 2008 @ 5:06pm

    The new scam is now with the apple iPhones. The seller uses poor grammar and claims that the price is 350 for one iPhone. Sounds a little good to be true. I asked a few more questions and somehow I had him telling me that the item will be shipped from Africa (couldnt tell me the country) and that I should send him a money order. I asked If I could pay via paypal or meet in person and pay cash, he got made and said forget it.

  26. Posted by: Sandra on Feb 4, 2008 @ 9:33pm

    Just got an email for a textbook here it is

    james bruno

    Thanks for the email,I want you to get back to me with your last asking price and get back to me with the following information

    Your full Name:

    Your full Contact information including your Zip Code:

    Your Valid Cell phone number:

    so that the payment can be mailed out to you without any delay,Meanwhile i have someone that will come for the immediate pick_up when you get the payment,And my Mode of Payment is {Candian Money Order or Certified Cashier Check}I look forward to Hear from you Soon,Thank's.

  27. Posted by: on Feb 7, 2008 @ 1:56am

    In response to Sandra - DO NOT RESPOND TO THEM. OR ELSE, if you do, make sure the police are involved b/c that email looks exactly like the email response i got for my textbook. Take care.

  28. Posted by: Genna on Apr 23, 2008 @ 12:42pm

    This scam artist may be assuming the name of Vivian. We got a request for a money order to be sent back in an elaborate paying scheme for a house we listed for sublet. It sounds very similar to what other users have experienced except apparently this time the money was to be sent from England. This happened just a few days ago so this person is still around. (S)he also seemed willing to pay without seeing the house, which I see now was a red flag.

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