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"Advance Fee" frauds explode on beekeeping Social Media sites -- Experienced beeks can help monitor and detect

621 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  JWChesnut
I admin a large Facebook forum dedicated to beekeeping. In the past two months, I have seen an explosion of "advance fee" fraud. In this scam, a apparently legitimate business page is tagged by an apparently normal participant when someone asks about offers of gear or bees. Experienced beeks should caution newbees to be suspicious of business pages without a detectable physical location, which use private message response to normal questions, and propose using a non-refundable digital payment for deposits and sales.

Experienced beekeepers reviewing the "business page" will notice multiple red flags. Equipment pictures are repurposed from internet images using equipment that is local to continents other than the supposed location of the business. The names of the business pages often use an apparently correct English form that is not normal for the American beekeepers idiom.

The business pages have "page transparency" reports that indicate they are maintained from the African nation of Cameroon. They have a "page history" that show they were previously involved in "Puppy adoption" (demonstrated by changes in the Page name) which was a common internet advance fee scam in 2020-2021 before enforcement cut it off.

The business pages ask for an advance deposit via a non-refundable digitial payment system (such as Zelle), and then block and ghost the marks. Some provide "business addresses 150 to 300 miles away from the marks home and propose to drop off the equipment or bees while on a delivery run. The "provided" home address are fraudulent (and are scattered around the country). The offer of delivery seems to be associated with Marks which insist on using a refundable system (such as Paypal) and delay the delivery date using a plethora of excuses until the "refundable" time-window closes.

Some of "apparently normal" participant "nyms" which pimp the fraudulent pages have spent the last 9 months or so obtaining membership in hundreds of local beekeeping FB groups. Some of the pimps have had gaps in their account privacy, which I have used to collect the network of nyms involved. The nyms are relatively few and interlocking-- all leading back to the Cameroon fraud. The pimp "nyms" are active on American and Australian forums (verified by the "welcome new members" posts which Google archives). They also have membership in "Native Bee" groups in the US, driven by apparent misunderstanding of the relationship of Native Bees and Honeybees.

I am not describing the "red flags" as (at least on FB) the scammers are actively monitoring responses, and I don't want to tip off the "tells" I am using. The scammers are also active selling goats, fancy chickens, and mobile dimension sawmills using the same basic MO.
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thank you for posting this. I wouldn't fall for it but others might. Can I share this to another forum that I admin?
Please do, please remind folks not to "spill the tell" -- so the fraudsters don't cover their tracks.
I can privately provide my networked "nym" list, if you want to review membership.

The network has a lot of Brazilian nyms. I don't know if these were purchased names to build apparent legitimacy, or is an indication that the "advance fee" fraud is especially active in Brazil (and not in my purview). "Fancy Chickens" appear to be a first effort and beekeeping was secondary.

The Chickens fraud just involved chicks, but the beekeeping pages have "Hummer bees", capping tanks, extractors --- so an individual fraud could run into thousands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The local group page "Beekeepers of Sacramento" saw three Cameroon advance fee fraud pimps in rapid succession linking to three different "Homestead Bee Farm" fraud pages after a query about buying nucs this week. The three "nym" pimping these landing pages have memberships in ?hundreds? of local groups. The landing pages are known for defrauding buyers using the "advance fee" MO.
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