The Mysterious Generosity of the Marine Engineers

Dot writes: any Sherlocks out there, kindly put down your cocaine and your violin for long enough to consider this outre little problem. (And please keep to yourselves any conclusions about my character and past drawn from the state of my jeans turn-ups; they are likely to depress me.)

We are, and have been for some time now, attempting to sell our old car. It is a good runner, as they say, and at the cheaper end of the secondhand market in Ireland, but I don’t think Rover inspires much enthusiasm as a brand these days and there hasn’t been much interest. However, three times now we’ve been contacted by people who say they want to buy it straight away at whatever price we are asking. They don’t want to see it, they’ll send someone to collect it, and all they need is our paypal account details so they can transfer the money to us immediately. The second time I got this response I emailed back expressing my surprise, and I was sent an explanation very like the following:

I am ready to buying it now for birthday gift for brother in-law and i am at sea at the moment as i am a marine engineer and due to the nature of my work, phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it. I really want this item to be a surprise for brother in-law so i wont let him know anything about the item until it gets delivered to him, i am sure he will be more than happy with this item. I insisted on paypal because i don’t have access to my bank account online as i don’t have internet banking, but i can pay from my paypal account, as i have my bank a/c attached to it, i will need you to give me your paypal email address and your paypal full name and the price so i can make the payments asap for the item and pls if you don’t have paypal account yet, it is very easy to set up, go to http://www.paypal.co.uk Web site registration will take only 5 minutes just get back to me as soon as you get back to me registered and get it set up, after you have set it up i will only need the e-mail address you use for registration with paypal so as to put the money through. I have a pick up agent that will come and pick the item up after i have made the payments…

That’s actually a quotation from the third such enquiry (different e-mail address, different marine engineer apparently – engineer number two was buying the present for his son). So why are all these marine engineers so keen to buy surprise cars for their relatives? Is it some strange promotional effort to get us to use paypal? Is there some little-known madness that afflicts men when they have spent slightly too long at sea inhaling boiler fumes that takes the form of suddenly seeing the merits of the Rover 25? What is going on?

I firmly believe that it will turn out to involve one or all of the following: bank robbery; giant dogs; Mormons; a person presumed dead who is actually living in a cavity in the wall. I await your solution.

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21 thoughts on “The Mysterious Generosity of the Marine Engineers

    1. Dot

      Yes, that’s rather what I suspected (we smelt the ship’s rats pretty quickly). Thanks for the link.

      Interesting the way that while the relative changes the phrase ‘squeezed out time to check this advert’ seems to be a constant. I’m amused by its implication that this person has made a supreme effort to find out about your car in the midst of his difficult life and it would be rude and horrible of you to ignore him.

  1. I’m sure they can only be doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, just like those wonderful people in Nigeria who are willing to send you cheques for massive amounts of money, only SOME of which you have to send back to them immediately via Western Union before the cheque has time to clear.

    1. kenanddot

      I was wondering how exactly they would get money off us through this scam (surely the details of our paypal account wouldn’t be enough by themselves?), so thanks for mentioning the Western Union thing.

  2. They may transfer you money in PayPal but they will be using a hacked account and when the fraudulent transfer is detected, the money will be taken back from you (a chargeback) and your car will be long gone, cloned and sold or chopped up for parts.

  3. “Also I have deduced that you have two children.”

    “How could you possibly know that?”

    “A woman can always find short-term care for one child, so if she shows up to a meeting with an important figure like Sherlock Holmes bearing an infant, it may be deduced that she has two, and has chosen to bring the more placid along, whilst abandoning the other to some Dalkey nursemaid!”

  4. hill32

    currently trying to sell my trailer and i have gotten the same exact email from 2 different email addresses the first time i almost fell for it until the “buyer” wanted me to western union some money for their “pickup agent” when i hadnt even recieved any money. obviously not even replying to the second email.

      1. CarN

        Yup – got the same thing yesterday…from Michael Milan and Junior Peter. What an idiot! I’ve told him as much…pretty sure I’ve hurt his feelings now (lol) as he’s not responding to my emails…could it be because I told him he’s a joke and going to hell?

        karma is a bitch… 🙂
        Glad we didn’t get scammed too!

  5. Jason

    What they are doing is sending you an email with a confirmation from paypal that you have received the funds. In reality, you have a fake email. Nothing gets sent to your real paypal account.
    Then, the Marine Engineer expects you to run to the Western Union and send the “agent” the extra money they said they submitted. I had the same offer for a table and chair from these generous Marine Engineers.

  6. Marie from Vancouver, Canada

    Darn. I’m trying to sell my (gorgeous) BMW 330 CCi convertible and “John”, a very generous marine engineer, offered to buy it sight unseen. Boy was I happy! I asked my husband to read his email and we found out pretty quickly that this is a scam. I think I’ll string him (John) along for a while, just to yank his chain….
    I wish people weren’t LIKE this!!

  7. John

    I am selling a vehicle , A high dollar rare Corvette. I have had 13 different marine engineers wanting to buy this vehicle for there dad, son, or mother all with the same story, they are at sea and have no telephone but want to pay with Pay-pal as soon as I can send them all of my info. I have all of these emails on fill with there Email address if there is any body that can trace these scammers.

  8. Yon Han CHONG

    I also received a similar e-mail offer to buy my car as a surprise gift to his brother-in-law. I think PayPal should do something about it.

  9. The email I got after posting my vehicle on craigslist has almost the exact same wording from “Michael Smit, micsmit2005@gmail.com” He wrote:

    Thanks for the prompt response..
    I am ready to buy it for my brother and i am at sea at the moment as i am a marine engineer and due to the nature of my work,visiting of website are restricted but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it. I really want it to be a surprise for my brother so i wont let him know anything about it until it gets delivered to him, i am sure he will be more than happy with it. I insisted on PayPal because i don’t have access to my bank account online as i don’t have internet banking, but i can pay from my PayPal, as i have my bank a/c attached to it, i will need you to give me your PayPal email address and the firm price so i can make the payments asap for it and please if you don’t have PayPal account yet, it is very easy to set up, go to http://www.paypal.com/cy and get it set up, after you have set it up i will only need the e-mail address you use for registration with PayPal so as to put the money through. I have a pickup agent that will come and pick it up after i have made the payment…
    Get back to me with your:
    PayPal email address
    Home address
    Phone #

  10. Bondy123

    Google the Marine Engineer Scam. It’s been going for a very long time – it’s not one man (or woman) but used regularly in various forms by different scammers all over the world. It’s spread like the black plague and has now become a fixture of internet culture. There are only 3 things certain in this world…income tax, death and marine engineers buying up anything and everything.

  11. danny

    I just had a marine engineer wanting to buy my guitar amp for his son…. How very odd….. Insisted on paypal…. Almost word for word as above!

  12. Randy

    Here’s how I replied:

    Hi!

    All this sounds good to me – I’m a big fan of PayPal! — I’ll get some additional photos and info together and post it all to my website in a bit – I’ll forward the link and login information to you in a bit..

    Meanwhile, I’d like to recommend a very reliable pick up agent for you – (a link to their site is below) – I have used them numerous times and have always been satisfied with their services. They offer a referral reward, so as a courtesy, I have already forwarded your information to them!

    http://goo.gl/aL6dkf

    Thanks again!

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