My online girlfriend from Ghana sent me cash in the mail and asked me to use Western Union to transfer the money to a 3rd party. In return I will be mailed 2 apple iPhones which I am to send to her.
Is this a scam?
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Is this a scam?
The answer is yes. It is a scam.
There are many scenarios that may be playing out here:
The people sending and receiving the iPhones and/or the cash may or may not be "in" on the scam. It's dangerous for a scammer to recruit people to knowingly help them do things like this, so often times, the other endpoints a victim is working with are just other victims who have been tricked into participating. So, for instance, that cash you receive may have actually come from another victim, and same with the iPhones. This way, the scammer is even more protected from being found out. For instance, the person sending you the cash may think that they've been hired to be a "payroll administrator" who is responsible for receiving electronic transfers into their own personal account, withdrawing cash, and mailing it to other people. Then the cash shows up at your address, and meanwhile the scammer finds a way to reverse the electronic payment to the other victim, which results in their account being overdrawn, and that victim is left on the hook with the bank. Meanwhile, you are innocently taking that cash to Western Union and wiring it to someone that the scammer can exploit for some other purpose. Once the first victim reports the fraud, the police will track you down, and your girlfriend will vanish into thin air. You and the other victim will be left responsible, both financially and legally.
So - Yes - this is definitely a scam. The best course of action is to cut off all contact with this person. If you have given them any sensitive info, keep yourself protected (monitor your credit, change passwords, alert your bank as appropriate). If any cash or goods have actually changed hands, report this to the authorities and follow their instructions. The US government maintains a website listing resources for reporting scams and fraud.