I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time now.  Back in October of 2016, I found myself in posession of a Samsung S7 Edge that I really didn’t like, and a brand new shiney Google Pixel, that I did indeed like.  So I did the logical thing, right before Christmas, I tried to sell it.  At first I tried cragistlist, as I’ve found it more effective than Ebay for some other things I’ve sold.  Nothing, not a single bite.  So I fell back to Ebay, as I really wanted to get this thing sold.  A day or so after I listed the item, I was contacted through ebay’s messaging system, by a potential buyer.

Hello i am very interested in this item and i will like to offer you $740 altogether with the shipping cost to Malaysia.

I told him to go ahead and bid, there was a good chance he’d get the phone for less than that, and I was fine with that.  He gave me this story about how he’s international, and that he isn’t able to bid on the item because he’s in Malaysia. 

Sorry, my account can not buy items internationally except domestic simply because it was open with Malaysia’s ebay, so you can just send me a payment request on my PayPal account email redacted@gmx.com to make the payment… Thanks.

I had set the auction to US only.  It’s a Verizon phone after all, as far as I know they dont even work in Malaysia. So, whatever, I figure, if he wants to buy my phone, its his problem.  I set the auction to international, and let him know.  In the meantime, I start looking at his account.  It is indeed based in Malaysia, and is a day old.  A day or so goes by, and he tells me that he still cant bid.  He wants me to end the auction early and make a private deal.  Anyone who’s ever sold anything online should know, that’s a red flag. 

Sorry, my account can not buy items internationally except domestic simply because it was open with Malaysia’s ebay, so you can just send me a payment request on my PayPal account email redacted@gmx.com to make the payment… Thanks.

I proceed to ignore him. 

Well the auction ends, no bids, so i figure, what the heck, at this point I don’t lose anything by reaching out to the guy.  I knew better, but whatever, at the very least it could give me some fodder for a blog post. 😉 So I write the guy, again, via Ebay’s messaging system.  I want a log of the conversation.  He gives me an email address to send a paypal request to. 

Okay, below is my address you can check with USPS post it is very cheap and safe to send also you can send me a payment request on my PayPal account email redacted@gmx.com to make the payment… Thanks.
Name: Rub Marcus,
Address: <some address that may or may not be his)
Postal code: 47100,
City: Puchong.
State: Selangor
Country: Malaysia
Tel: +6010391xxxx


Ok, paypal, I trust paypal.  I send him the request.  I figure, Paypal is designed to protect both parties, I’ll know if he’s sent the money, and if it checks out, he can have the dang phone.  Within moments of sending the paypal request, I get an email from “Paypal” stating that he’s paid, and then a second one from “Paypal” stating that the transaction woudln’t be marked as paid until I submit a tracking number. 

Fiiiiishy..   Paypal doesn’t work like that.  So I start to dig.  Mind you, this email came in over night.  I woke up on a Saturday morning to find these emails in my inbox.  I’m still laying in bed, looking at them on my sleek Google Pixel, Groggy, and half a wake, they looked pretty damn legit.  They still look pretty damn legit now that I’m looking at them months later.  Now, I’ve been troubleshooting, and administering every level of email delivery for, literally, my entire career.  My sysadmin instincts kicked in, and I opened up the headers (something K9 mail makes pretty easy on android BTW). Gmail.  They sourced from freaking Gmail.  Probably some poor user’s compromised account.

He also sent me an email directly.  Apparently he’d had enough with Ebay logging his messages (I later found out that his account had already been terminated at this point). 

Hello, i have made the payment and i just received a notification from PayPal that the money as been deducted from my account. Please kindly check your PayPal account email inbox or junk/spam box to confirm, send the item to my address below also forward the shipping tracking number to me for tracking then kindly declare it $100 as value of the item due to customs fees in my country Thanks

At this point, I was witout any doubt, he’s just trying to get me to send him the device without paying for it.  Being honest, I knew that from the beginning.  Call it optimism, or just curiosity, that got me this far.  I gave it a few days to stew, and I write him back.

Sorry, but according to paypal, you there has been no payment.

Please check with paypal to make sure your payment has indeed been sent.


He’s got to suspect that I’m on to him, right?  I’m not sure, but he responds with this:

Hello kindly recheck your PayPal email inbox & spam box, you should have received an email from PayPal Regarding this transaction because the money has been deducted in my account. Thanks

He’s of course referring to his very cleverly forged paypal mesages, which I already know are fake.  So, I send him this:

My paypal account clearly states that the payment request has not been paid. I did receive a PayPal email which was not actually from PayPal. You may want to check your end and make sure that no one has tricked you into using some fake paypal clone. The email I received came through what appears to be a Gmail account with a forged from address.

I will not be shipping this device until my paypal account shows the money delivered.


I never heard back from Mr. Macrus.  I assume the loss of that $740 ruined him, and he’s in some debters prison in Malaysia now.  Poor Rub Marcus.

The phone did eventually sell via Ebay, but only after I had to endure about 4 more attempted initiations of variations of this same scam.  I didn’t play any of the others through like this one.  I’d sunk enough time into this, and it just wouldn’t have been amusing a second time.