The check is in the mail: Monetization of craigslist buyer scams

Jackie Jones, Damon McCoy

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Nigerian or advance fee fraud scams continue to gain prevelance within the world of online classified advertisements. As law enforcement, user training, and website technologies improve to thwart known techniques, scammers continue to evolve their methods of targeting victims and monetizing their scam methods. As our understanding of the underground scammer community and their methods grows, we gain a greater insight about the critical points of disruption to interrupt the scammers ability to succeed. In this paper we extend on previous works about fake payment scams targeting Craigslist. To grow our understanding of scammer methods and how they monetize these scams, we utilize a data collection system posting "honeypot advertisements" on Craigslist offering products for sale and interact with scammers gathering information on their payment methods. We then conduct an analysis of 75 days worth of data to better understand the scammer's patterns, supporting agents, geolocations, and methods used to perpetuate fraudulent payments. Our analysis shows that 5 groups are responsible for over 50% of the scam payments received. These groups operate primarily out of Nigeria, but use the services of agents within the United States to facilitate the sending and receiving of payments and shipping of products to addresses both in Nigeria and the United States. This small number of scammer organizations combined with the necessity of support agents within the United States indicate areas for potential targeting and disruption of the key scammer groups.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2014 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, eCrime 2014
    PublisherIEEE Computer Society
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9781479965106
    StatePublished - 2014
    Event2014 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, eCrime 2014 - Birmingham, United States
    Duration: Sep 23 2014Sep 25 2014

    Publication series

    NameeCrime Researchers Summit, eCrime
    ISSN (Print)2159-1237
    ISSN (Electronic)2159-1245


    Other2014 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, eCrime 2014
    Country/TerritoryUnited States

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Computer Networks and Communications
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Information Systems
    • Information Systems and Management


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