Spot scams before you’re scammed
It has been about a year since I last blogged about the tenacious scammers targeting glass companies. Many of you know the game, perhaps even from experience. Here’s the common scenario: A scammer contacts a company (often via emails littered with misspellings and grammatical errors) asking for a large amount of a fairly generic product type; pays using stolen credit cards and requests the business use (and pre-pay) a shipping company that turns out to be fake; and if successful, disappears with the money paid to the fake shipping company. The business is out the money (sometimes several thousand dollars) and stuck with the product the scammer ordered, which for some businesses cannot be easily sold to another customer.
Why write about the same old story? Well, the best, and seemingly only, way to stop these scammers is to spot fraudulent orders before you’re scammed. Ordering fraud is a prevalent threat to industry companies, so you need to be able to spot red flags. Even though you might be familiar with the scams, are your employees or co-workers? I’ve posted some recent examples from glass industry companies at the end of this blog. I encourage you to pass along this information to others in your business (particularly personnel who receive and process orders), and to peers in the industry. And, if you’re targeted, post the exchange on this blog, even anonymously, if you prefer.
The more information and real-world examples on the Web, the easier it is for businesses to cross-check information when they receive a fishy order. In January 2009, I wrote a blog that listed the names of several fake shipping companies reported by business owners. Since then, the blog has received about 180 comments from business owners who have been targeted, many of whom simply Googled the name of the shipping company a scammer requested they use and found it on our blog. Many of the scammers use the same email text for all the companies they target. The more companies that share information when they are targeted, the more likely other companies will be able identify the scam.
One final note of warning, though. The same old story might be changing. As business owners become wiser, the scammers become smarter. Some of the more recent scam emails I’ve seen have contained more precise product information and fewer blatant grammatical errors. Additionally, scammers aren’t sticking with the same shipping company names or organization names. Trust your gut. If something seems off in an order, follow up and do your due diligence. Why would someone in Ghana try to order a fairly standard glass product from a small or midsized glass shop on another continent? Why would a customer refuse to use your normal shipping company and instead request to use their company that charges two or three times as much?
Good luck! And keep spreading the word.
Subject: Sunroof panel order
Good day and how are you? First of all i go by the name Mark Collis,i would like to know if you have some window sunroof panel in stock.Below are the type and the brand i want from you.
Glass Size Cut Hole Size Outer Frame Size
13 5/8 x 28 5/8 15 1/8 x 30 1/8 16 3/16 x 31 3/16
I would like to hear from you and hope we can go from there.Thank you and stay blessed.
From: Ben Hurtson [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Glass Order
Dear Customer Service
My name is Mr Ben Hurtson with the Hurtson & Company and i am sending this email in regards to the order of some Clear Glass and i will need size 30 by 30 1/ 8 each thickness Soda Lime Clear Glass and i will need 120 pieces of that 30 by 30 1/8 each tickness Clear Glass so don't hesitate to contact me back with the price plus tax for 120 pieces of the Clear Glass along with your full contact name so that i can get back to you to place the orders..Awaiting for your response to start ...
Mr Ben Hurtson
With much regards to your company services and products, I am
Christopher ,and would like to make a purchase on the below product .
30x30 18 inch glass ,
4x4 117.5 inch Clear glass.
18 Inch x 30 Inch Flat Glass Mirror .
3/8" & 1/2" Frameless Shower/Steam Door.
5/8 In. - 12 In. x 12 In. Glass .
Kindly send me a return e-mail on what you currently have in stock and
what you can offer with prices and availability.
--By Katy Devlin, associate editor