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Help with IP identification

Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2023 2:40 pm
by sirvanbullock
Hi,

I don't know if this is the right place to ask, but I'll try to describe my problem because I've been struggling with this for a while.

Three months ago, I paid to place an advertising article in a major British online newspaper. I paid $1350, and after two months, I have not received an ad placement or a response from that agency. I have contacted them countless times, but no response. So I started looking for who they were to gather as much information as I could and go to the police. I found out that the agency is based in Ireland (but according to Google Maps, it's some abandoned house) and also in Poland and Ukraine. I managed to find someone who lives in Dublin, not far from the building, and he confirmed to me that it is an abandoned building.

I couldn't find anything else. When I went to the police, they told me they wouldn't do much about it because the company didn't seem to exist and asked me if I knew their IP address.

Is there any way to find out where these people are operating from? I have one email from them that they apparently sent by mistake (they forwarded my own message), and I also have their website URL. They use a Gmail email address. I would post the agency's name here, but I don't know if that's allowed.

I will be very grateful for any advice. I am really desperate and hate the idea of losing so much money. I paid via bank account, not PayPal. I already asked this question on Reddit and another forum, and they advised me to ask here.

Re: Help with IP identification

Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2023 4:00 pm
by Chrispcritters
Sorry to hear about someone committing fraud against you.

Emails from Google no longer contain the sender's IP address.

Law enforcement or a lawyer can subpoena the email account access records to get any IP addresses used to access the account.

From there, they would need to subpoena the ISP to get the customer's details. If they used a VPN, then it would be a dead-end. If they are in a different country than you, you may need to work with law enforcement or a lawyer in that country.

Probably a better course of action would be to follow the money. File a fraud report with your bank. File a fraud report with the scammer's bank. Because of "know your customer" laws surrounding banking, there is a better chance of getting real details.

Ultimately, hiring a lawyer will cost you at least 10x what you lost to the scam and even if you are able to identify the criminal and they are in the same country as you, it's unlikely that you'll get your money back.

BUT, it's important to report these incidents everywhere you can:
  • Your local law enforcement
  • Your bank
  • The bank where you sent the money
  • The registrar for the domain name
  • The host for the website
  • The newspaper that the ad was supposed to be run on
  • If you are in the US, report to IC3 (https://www.ic3.gov/Home/ComplaintChoice/default.aspx). If you are in a different country, there is likely a similar reporting agency.

Re: Help with IP identification

Posted: Sun Sep 10, 2023 11:25 am
by sirvanbullock
Thank you for your reply and useful tips, I really appreciate it.

Yes, the police mentioned that this type of scammers use VPNs and that it seems impossible to find out who they are. Plus, as you said, Gmail no longer contains the sender's IP address. I wasn't aware of this! I didn't know that IP address is sensitive data.

The fraudsters are from another (European) country. I suspect the two countries I mentioned in my initial post.

You are right that a lawyer would cost a lot of money (I have already contacted two), and it is not worth it.

As for the reporting agency, I didn't know such a thing existed. There must be something here in Europe as well.

Thank you, once again, for your tips. I am grateful for any new information. I'm already resigned to the fact that I won't see the money, but I don't want more victims.