Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Anatomy of a Fraud

(Our fantastic Samsung NX200 camera, packaged up ready to sell)

In the last month Agata and Marcus have been the target of attempted fraud.  And unbelievably to us, last week,  it was attempted for the second time.   It's time to make this public.

Are We Okay?

Luckily, by Marcus's persistence or maybe design I've not lost anything more than my time.


We are selling a large number of items on the Swiss sales website   Our items are listed here

Motivations for our sales include
- Reuse by others of items we no longer need or use
- Effectively recycling then
- All adverts are carefully made
- All items carefully tested and working 100% perfectly
- We don't sell faulty or crapola or misadvertised stuff
- Prices are between reasonable and bargain
- The money we get from any sale is really tiny all things considered.

Elements of this Scam

- This is a Paypal related scam where the buyer offers to pay via paypal.
- The goods that they want to buy are irrelevant, the game is to get you to post the goods, then sting you with a condition, which if you don't agree to mean you'll get nothing
- Faced with the proposition of losing your goods without any payment you are tempted into their trap involving you the buyer sending them money ...

Scam Setup and Execution

3 people

Bogus Buyer
Idiot seller (me)
Third Party (destination of gift)

The third party could potentially be innocent, but I think this is unlikely. More likely part of the criminal team who will deny all knowledge if questioned by police (plausible deniability)  & this is also so the buyers identity is not known.

a - Bogus Buyer offers to buy my camera

b - Buyer offers to pay via Paypal

c - I accepted

d - I receive a fake email from  (spoofed) saying that intention to pay me has been made by paypal

e - I don't check the email sufficiently or visit my because being an idiot/ kind soul I am trying to make the last post to send them the item   (Don't know if this is their timing intention)

f - Seller says item is a gift so please post to Third Party at a valid Swiss Name and Address

g - I take item to Post office.
LUCKILY I decided with the value to insist on signed delivery.  Interestingly bogus buyer asked me NOT to do so but I thought, for this value I want a signature.  Maybe that saved me

h - Lucky#2: For signed items in Switzerland you MUST fill in a special label and attach to packet.  I never normally quote my full address (being paranoid) but in this case I did, perhaps because of larger value.

i - I send the buyer confirmation that item is posted, via tracking receipt.  At this point they know I am committed.

j - Next morning early, bogus buyer emails to say there is a problem sending me paypal money

k - They claim that Paypal won't accept the funds until my account is upgraded. So they have ADDED 450 CHF francs to my sale price  (450 + 270) = 720 CHF and this balance will be paid by paypal after I first send them some 450 CHF paysafe tokens:

l - I need to goto a tobacco or other shop in Switzerland.  Buy 450 CHF of paysafe tokens and send them the codes  (effectively sending them 450 CHF)

m - Once they get my 450CHF they will instruct Paypal to send me te 720 CHF

m2 - They implied that paysafe and Paypal are working together necessarily so

n - I called paypal.  They explained there is no account upgrade, which I pretty much knew from his first email and the paypal emails which I can now clearly see are faked. 

o - I told Buyer to pay via paypal or return goods and that I did not care if they already paid paysafe, not my problem.  We exchanged many emails, he kept insisting on payment from me first of the 450 CHF

Clever Bits
This is an attempt extort money from me, the seller of a product!

I traced their IP to outside Switzerland

I liaised with the Swiss Post office to check that the ex directory Swiss name and address is valid, is receiving mail at that name, but we don't know if the destination is an innocent party or part of the fraud.

I found the destination person on facebook, printed out their whole bio, I found their education, job history. I messaged them. I found their parents name and address, their parents quite important jobs.

I intend to take it further, via the police, I need to more closely analyse the internet headers of the emails that I have saved.  They are spooking not just paypal but also paysafe, both using gmail addresses.

Meanwhile I already raised a case with Google.

I got the camera back, that package and other signed letters sent to the Swiss address were refused. (I also sent an identical non signed for letter, that presumably was delivered). 

It is possible that the third party target is innocent, but in this case to refuse all attempts at contact  (facebook, post, email) I find suspicious.

A week or two later this happened again!  Right I thought, now I can investigate.  This time the fraudulent emails are theoretically from  (but mail headers show otherwise)

- I have a precise record of all conversations

- I've established the domains and website that have sent me the emails
- I've reported to Google the illegal activity of any gmail user
- I've made requests to Internet bodies to determine certain information that must be presented publicly
- I've reported to Paypal the illegal activity and offered to work with their fraud team
- I've portscanned the domains with illegal activity proving that activity is coming from inside not from hacked unsecured servers
- I've knowledge of the ISP's of the illegal domains and ultimately owners
- All this information will be passed to the Swiss Cybercrime division
- I will also inform the Swiss Police

Summary Points

- Don't be in a rush to please when the Buyer has done nothing for you

- In Switzerland we traditionally trust buyers and send items prior to payment, but let's insist on prior payment before shipping for foreign transactions or ones that are suspicious.
- Check inbound payment emails from Paypal carefully
- Research the buyer on the Internet, no history or trace can be regarded as suspicious
- If it is Paypal then logon to your account and check pending transactions from the https screen.
- Insist that you send the item to the buyer and not a third party


Anibis safety link
Anibis Fraud Guide
Report Google Gmail abuse

Swiss online purchasing scams
Cybercrime Complaints Form CH

Name and Shame

I'm writing down the exact names of the wankers that I have dealt with here.  I'm excluding the precise names of the third part(ies) involved, since it's just possible though IMHO extremely unlikely that they are innocent. Yes, what a nice guy I am.

IP address of senders  <but it's a tor networks so hmm>
82,239,104,165  Tours, Centre 37100, France

Names Used
Marie Charlotte Poligny
Xavier Stanton
Gaelle Vachet

Email addresses of fraudsters


Delivery Addresses

3rd party address: Ms C D, Ruelle du Chapitre 3, 1950 Sion, Switzerland
3rd party address: 6061 Montignies sur Sambre, Belgium?
3rd party address: Avenue Henri-Golat 12 B,1219 Ch√Ętelaine

And, Unbelievably Idiotic Emails

Yes, well looking in the calm light of day the emails look like shit and has several formatting and other errors making it look questionable.  Example

On the style front we have

- Inconsistent amateurish use of fonts

- senders paypal account ( not matching in any way the senders email (
- Odd highlighting
- Analysis of the email body shows a host of other email addresses inside the HTML.  Let us name in total

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Whitsun Monday Switzerland

Monday diary

As I am sure other Religious scholars might inform you

Sunday May 24, 2015 is Christian Pentacost

Monday May 25, the day after Pentacost is by definition Whit Monday or Pentacost Monday

And I believe this is the reason that Monday was a National Holiday in Switzerland.  Meanwhile in Marcus's more traditional home country of England, most people know this Monday as simply a Bank Holiday.

Remind me about Pentacost
Well as the Christinan narratives goes, the 12 Apostles  (11 originals, not Judas who is dead, but with Mattias his replacement) were celebrating the Jewish Shauvot when the Holy Spirit arrived. And at this point we had disciples speaking in Tongues.

To echo the Religious theme and to have a day of relaxation Marcus, Agata and Valya headed to pay our respects to the grave of our recently deceased friend Galina. (reference here)

We met Valya in central Lausanne.  Marcus was distracted by all the motorhomes travelling by.  Here, 2 Sunlights in a row.  What are the chances?

After a bus journey and quite a walk we arrive at the Pully cemetery.  Our journey had been made slightly tricky since Valya arrived with some flowers in a glass vase full of water. We took turns in carrying it up the long hilly path from the lakeside!

Honestly,  Pully cemetery is simply stunning.  Marcus and Agata thought that if we had to be buried somewhere then this would make a nice resting place.

 We all paid our respects at the graveside.

 More pictures of the Graveyard.   Beautiful right?

And now Agata took us on an extended walk towards Pully swimming pool.

 Some days we forget just how stunningly beautiful it is here. But it just takes a single walk in the vineyards to remind us.

Arrival at Pully-plage pool.

About 1Km swim later ... time for a friendly catchup over lunch

 We managed to miss any temptations of cake .. for now!

Marcus suggested some more walking ... towards Lausanne

 The sleepy centre of Pully is a delight.

Just before leaving Valya we walked central Lausanne

 Ferraries and Porsches are just everywhere.

We searched out this new-ish bicycle park and ride scheme. You can cycle to Lausanne station and park your bicycle in secure storage and take the train to work. The pickup your bike after returning home to Lausanne gare in the evening.

Before going home Marcus and Agata has a chocolate buying race.  Marcus lost,  and nearly fainted when he saw something called a queue!  I thought these were illegal in Switzerland.

Back on the metro home.  Clearly time travel exists.  It seems like a Mohican man, in Punk clothing with dog, a common site from 1980's London has been time travelled 30 years into his future to present day Lausanne.  

Retro on the Metro.

UK Bank Holidays
Picassa Hires Album

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lifeline Torque Wrench Set review

This is a review of the Lifeline Professional Torque wrench.

Why do I need one
When assembling stuff manufacturers may often quote the maximum tightening torque that should be applied to a bolt 

Here is an example from the Shimano Dura Ace FC-9000 manual   It says between 12.0 to 14.0 Nm  (or 105 - 122 in lbs in old, fuddy duddy Imperial)

Old Skool thoughts
Marcus was always taught the value of knowing /the feel/ of tightening a bolt and nut.  The basic idea is that over time you develop a feeling in your hands of the torque you are using  and don't overtighten.  Because:

- For Steel, you can make it so tight that it's almost impossible to loosen.  Classic example: wheelnuts on a car
- For Aluminium: you can just sheer the bolt off (note in my defence not what happened here!)

Developing this feel is best done in 2015 with the assistance of a torque wrench!  I had to deal with an oops and hard stare or worse, back in the day.

How it Works

- You read your manual and find the tightening torque

- You pull the spring loaded bottom dial out and turn it until the display shows the required torque  (fiddly)

- You attach the correctly sized hex drive

- Set the ratchet to tighten or loosen  (normally ratchet on loosen so it holds when you tighten)

- You tighten bolt and when at the head, it clicks, and gives it means stop tightening you reached the desired torque.

Notes on Lifeline professional
Actually a friend expressed an interest in a Torque wrench.  I already had the Lifeline Essential cheaper version.  What a perfect opportunity to gift them my Essential and upgrade the home toolkit to Professional! ...  So to compare the two

Nice sturdy plastic box but no better than the one of the Essential

 Reasonable bit selection.  Torque display is on body (underneath 5th socket from left in pic)

 Torque setting at the end

Very nicely made, quality feels better of this Professional product feels better than its Essential cousin.

Showing ratchet selection and no eject button

Professional (vs Essential)
+ Slimmer Body better to hold
+ Slimmer body better for tight spaces
- Very fiddly toque adjustment setting
- No push eject bit button (have to pull socket off manually. Essential has it)

The very fiddly nature of the torque setting means that I would more recommend the Essential product, and it's cheaper too!

I'd recommend a torque wrench for tightening fragile bicycle or other components to avoid damage.  Get one!

Lifeline Torque wrench from Wiggle
Lifeline Essential Wrench

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CycloTour du Leman 2015

Marcus Agata b4 start 2015 Leman

So it is no surprise that we just report back from our attempt at the 2015 Cyclour du Leman.

Kit Preparation .. Crunch

This was Marcus's bike working perfectly on Saturday morning.  However whilst prepping it for the race on Saturday night  (e.g. attaching race numbers, sticking energy bars to frame) I also tried to /finesse/ the brakes.

There was a sort of snapping sound as the brake bolt sheered off. Thanks only to Agata's patience we had to then spend at least an hour a) getting the busted thread from the brake calliper b) rummaging around for another screw c) hacksawing it to fit  d) remounting and adjusting e) not busting this new bolt either.

So we did not get to bed until late.  For Marcus it was about 3am.  Typical.

Graduated Starts
This year they asked people to start so that slower riders start later and so won't impeded faster ones.  I can only say we started at 06.42, within the correct band for our 6 hour projected time

We Started!

We started in good spirits.  Agata had decided to stash her warm leggings whilst Marcus kept his /throwaway Shirt/ (sorry Victoria Marathon) on thinking he would toss it at the first traffic light stop. In fact it would be 100Km before we stopped. 

We Stopped

We normally miss the first rest stop.  But this time we only stopped just the once. At 100Km.  Amazing!

Of course we bumped into Medalit, our friend who lives in Lausanne just 1Km away.   What are the chances!  (She was not even on the full race so had started from Evian at a totally different time).  

Marcus fumbled refiling his 600 ml water bottle.  I had only drunk about 150ml in 100Km and whilst trying to close it up it slipped, fluids going everywhere, meaning I continued with it not much fuller than when I arrived at the stop.  Meaning for the entire race I drunk <700ml.   I was lucky to get away with it.  I think I evaded dehydration only because I was not perspiring much at the moderate pace we had selected.

Pace and Preparation and Drafting
Our goal was for about 6 hours and so we knew we would have to average 30Km/h including stop.  Hmm.

We managed to join a group for the first 40Km or so but after that it was a little patchy. 

For the uninitiated, if you are inside a group you are drafting and it is relatively easy to cycle (say at least 25% energy saving) with the downside you can crash into those around you and sustain a terrible injury.

From Geneva back to Nyon, and even to Morges Marcus was heading a train of riders.  So I think I did my share of wind breaking thank you!   I did not mind since fitness level is pretty much at an all time high so the total effort was manageable.

In fact since I've had a running injury/block for 2 months I've compensated by Cycling almost daily upto 60Km, meaning I am well prepared. Contrast this with Agata whose stressful job (she is working this Sunday night after the race as I write this) means that she's had zero time to prepare.

What I'm saying is IMHO Agata's performance was absolutely flippin amazing.  If she has more time to train this summer she is going to be unbeatable.

We Finished

The last 50Km are a little hilly and the route from Geneva to Lausanne is always against the wind.  This year the wind was super strong.  Marcus notes that his triathlon bars helped dramatically.   Head down it was possible to achieve 30 Km/h whatever the wind, with Agata hopefully tucked in behind the large Marcus round blob.

Pasta and Watching

Julia found us a table in the shade  (thanks!) and we joined the Pasta party and watched others arriving.  The sun was shining, we were elated.  We finished without drama or any issue.

Meeting Friends and Making new ones

Normally we high tail it home but today we took it easy for a change.  Met some new people, checked out the drones, and inevitably bumped into other people that we knew.  The Lausanne cycling community, deliciously compact.


It is our tradition to take some Facebook cover shots for the coming year whilst on Cyclotour.

I think Agata's one is good.

Marcus's may need a little work

Best Bits and Thanks!

The best part was the superb company of the darling wife Agata who managed the ride with ease with nil training.

The weather was great.

We met friends along the way, and at the end.

Organisation was great.

A top day.


Moving Time 05.33.31
Total elapsed time 05.39.31
Marcus ate 2 SIS Gels and 2 Powerbars
Marcus drank (only!) 650ml squeezed Grapefruit juice.  Oops. (+500ml water after finish at Lunch)
Agata sensibly drank 1500ml water with USN Cytopower.
Agata ate 2 SIS Gels and PowerGel shots

Cyclotour 2015
Datasport (Team kitten)