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'Interested in Using Your Photo for Pepsi Ad' - Money Laundering Scam

Outline
Message purporting to be from Pepsi, claims that the company wishes to use one of the recipient's pictures in an advertisement and will arrange payment for use of the image once the recipient has replied with name and contact details.



Brief Analysis
The message has no connection with Pepsi whatsoever and the payment offer is fraudulent. The message is a scam designed to allow criminals to 'launder' the proceeds of crime.

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Last updated: October 11, 2012
First published: October 11, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

Example
Hello,

I am pleased to inform you that your photo here we are interested in an ad for Pepsi. We need your permission If so let us know so we can send you more details on this and write us with your e-mail address and name. All we need is your photos to this announcement will be made in France and we pay you for it. Is very important that you send us an email to the email address provided here for you.
Best regards and please make sure we reply to this email: <francepepsiadvert@ymail.com>




Detailed Analysis
This message, which purports to be from giant beverage company Pepsi, claims that the company is interested in using one of the recipient's photographs in an advertisement. The message asks that the recipient reply to a specified email address with permission to use the photograph along with his or her name and contact details so that payment for use of the image can be arranged. This version claims that the advertisement will be shown in France. Other versions move the location to Ecuador.

The message is not from Pepsi and the claim that Pepsi wants to pay the recipient for use of a photograph is untrue. In fact, the message is a scam designed to trick victims into laundering the proceeds of crime. Those who fall for the ruse and reply with their details will soon receive an "offer" explaining how much the company is proposing to pay for use of the image and how payment will be made. Victims who agree to this offer will subsequently receive a cheque or direct bank payment. However, the amount of money sent will be substantially larger than the agreed upon price. Victims will be instructed to deduct the usage fee and then wire the rest of the funds to a third party, ostensibly to cover related costs such as adverting agency fees or legal costs.

But alas, the cheque will turn out to be stolen or forged or, in the case of direct transfers, the funds will come from a hijacked bank account. All money wired to the "third party" will actually go straight back to the scammers. Once they have wired the first payment, victims may then receive similar "offers" for use of other photographs and the scam will be thus repeated.

By using this tactic, criminals can effectively "launder" the money they have stolen while leaving victims holding the bundle. Since the victims will have processed the funds via their own bank account, subsequent police investigations will lead directly to them. By this time, the criminals will have disappeared having received the bulk of their stolen funds in the form of cash.

Criminals regularly use variants of this scam to turn stolen funds into untraceable cash. Victims often find themselves out of pocket and possibly facing criminal charges. Scammers use many cover stories as vehicles for their laundering schemes. In many versions, the scammers offer the potential victim a "payment processing" job in which they are instructed to deduct a percentage of each transaction processed as their "wages" and wire the remainder back to their "employer". In other versions, the scammer will agree to buy an item for sale online but will send an amount considerably higher than the original asking price. The bogus "buyer" will ask the hapless seller to wire the extra amount to a third party such as a shipping agent. Of course, the "shipping agent" will be the scammer himself.

Be very cautious of any job offer that instructs you to process received funds through your own bank account, deduct a percentage as your payment, and wire the remainder back to the "employee". No legitimate organization is ever likely to conduct business in this manner. Nor is any genuine buyer likely to send you more than the asking price for an item and expect you to wire the extra amount to a third party.

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References

Red Bull Car Adverts Money Laundering Scam
Payment Transfer Job Scam Emails - Laundering Scams

Last updated: October 11, 2012
First published: October 11, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer