Online Seller’s Beware – Foreign buyers with stolen credit cards and fake shippers!Brian Tritch
Now that’s a big order, but wait and read.
Online Merchants and Sellers need to read this.
While on vacation in San Francisco with my family this August, I received an interesting email. It read:
I’m interested in place an order from you to our store let me know if you can ship here in Belgium and do you accept credit card as a form of payment.
Being a new online business and wanting to grow, I replied that we did accept credit cards and we can ship international. Now, I’ve been around for a while and have started and managed other businesses. Because of that, I’m reflexively suspicious, so I let “Ellen” know that we prefer a wire transfer before shipping.
“Her” next email was a large product order and read:
Thanks for your reply back. Its a pleasure receiving your reply back. I want to order for the below items for my customer’s here, I want you to reply back with the total cost plus shipping quote. We’re ready and can’t wait to receive these wonderful products of yours here. Your utmost reply back with the total quote will be highly appreciated.
INTERESTED ITEMS LISTED BELOW AND ADDRESS FOR SHIPPING QUOTE:
Cypress Wood Soap Tray
Green Olive Oil Soap + Tray Set
Mountain Soap Factory – Crystal Peak
Mountain Soap Factory – Mountain Meadows
Mountain Soap Factory – Purple Mountain Majesty
Mountain Soap Factory – Settler’s Scrub
Mountain Soap Factory – Trappers Lavender
Mountain Soap Factory – Aspen Leaf
Saifan Hand Formed White Olive Oil Soap – Unscented
Saifan White Olive Oil Soap – Unscented
White Olive Oil Soap + Tray Set
Saifan Hand Formed Green Olive Oil Soap – Unscented
Saifan Green Olive Oil Soap – Handmade – Light Laurel Fragrance
Saifan Green Olive Oil Soap – Unscented
ADDRESS FOR THE SHIPPING QUOTE……..
228 Zeelaan, Koksijde 8670, West-Vlaanderen
Hope to read back from you with the total cost and we can proceed and finalized my order.
God bless you,
Wow, that’s a big order, in fact the biggest to date for my young company. I prepared an order estimate with pricing at full retail and emailed it to her. I was unsure why “Ellen” needed this much soap, but what raised even greater suspicion was that there was no negotiation on price. On an order that large I would have expected at least a little back and forth.
Suspicions being on full alert, I pulled the address up on Google Earth. The street view showed a very pleasing Belgium street with small shops and a beautiful pedestrian promenade, but no Ellen’s Beauty shop. I addition, I went to the US Government Customs website and found a list of unsavory companies and people that the Feds had banned from doing business in the US, again, nothing for Ellen Worrell.
Just in case the order was legitimate, we began assembling the order.
To try to confirm that “Ellen” was real, I sent the following email:
The order is nearly ready. I have all items requested. The Cypress trays are complete and packed for shipping. To prepare an invoice I need specific information including the exact shipping address, your business name, business phone number, any tax license numbers (Sales Tax/VAT numbers). When I have the information, I will forward an online invoice to you from PayPal. You can use VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discovery or you PayPal account. I will contact your shipper and arrange for a pickup. Shipping is FOB from my office in Scottsdale AZ, USA.
Brian Tritch, Owner
In return, “Ellen” sent this email informing me that she wanted to use her own international shipper. One that she has used for years for other orders from other merchants. Here is her email:
I really appreciate you getting back to me regarding my order and i will like to let you know that i want you to proceed and let me have a quote on the available items so please i want you to contact my shipper which i use every time i purchase order worldwide via the below e-mail address about my order firstname.lastname@example.org with the weight and dimension inclusive the value for insurance quoting my customer ID #QP24742955E. They will deliver the shipment to me door to door,their cost will include the custom clearance and handling cost with my order. They will come pick my order up at your location when the shipment is ready. I will need you to obtain a quote and tell them that i want to Insure the package and I will like you to get back to me with overall cost of the items with the details from my shipper. Once I have these details, I will get back to you with my credit card details immediately for payment.
Hope to hear back from you ASAP
I noticed the shipper’s email address. Conoco is, in fact, a large international shipper, but why does their email address end with @post.com? It would seem that a company that size could afford their own URL. I Googled it (email@example.com) and wham! “SCAM ATERT” They use multiple names and email addresses but, a consistent message.
Now to appease any attorney’s out there, this is my humble opinion. These people are complete scammers and prey on small business owners that primarily sell their products on the internet. Apparently they use stolen credit card numbers that, once discovered, are charged back to the selling merchant – us. It appears that they are located in east Africa and use a complicit scammer shipping company in the US to pick up the shipment and instead of shipping to Ellen’s address, they sent it to their central scammer warehouse. The same warehouse that also stores those multimillion-dollar funds, on huge pallets, I’m sure, from your unknown relative or a dead rich government official.
My final email to “Ellen” informed her that this is an apparent scam and if she wants my products I require a wire to my bank. To no one’s surprise, the emails stopped.
My soaps and trays are safely in my possession but they are now neatly packaged and ready to ship. At least it got me organized.
For more information concerning online scams, please click to the USA.gov https://www.usa.gov/online-safety. Here you’ll find all kinds of information. Don’t let it scare you, just be aware.
Since I posted this information, plenty more potential scams have come through my email. We have some new names and slight variations of the same scams. I had added the name Christ Barney to the list in October with the familiar email about credit cards and shipping to an international address.
A couple of new names need to be added are Barney Sanders and Mark Navarro. Barney Sanders had the same scam concerning accepting credit cards and shipping international.
But Mark Navarro added a new twist. See the emails:
My name is Mark NavNavarro. A business man and hardworking merchandise shipping dealer. I work in a shopping store where we order and distribute all types of home and made produproducts..
We are so pleased to tell you that you have good products . As you display your onlinenews store. I will like to place order worth of $5000.. Can we proceed in choosing our desired items?
please am awaiting your response, thanks.
Please let me know what you would like to order. For foreign sales, I require a bank wire transfer. Is that agreeable?
My response is the standard reply that we require a bank wire transfer for any sizable international order, this usually stops them in their tracks and there is nothing but silence afterwards, but not Mark Navarro. Here is his response:
Thanks it’s agreeable. What bank do you use?
At this point I think the emails have turned from the standard credit card scheme into a standard phishing attempt. Asking for my bank information was another major red flag. My response was that we use a national bank that is internationally recognized.
That worked for about a month, then came this email:
I’m currently out of town and i need your products urgently can i send you cash drawn in us checks?
I don’t know what cash drawn on US check means. What products do you need?
Mark Navarro’s final email was to ask me to fulfill an order for him in to amount of $2000 with my best selling products. Here is the email:
Thank you. I want you to make selections of different kind you have in stock for the total $2000.00
I can send a check, just give me your address and phone numbers.
Well, I didn’t give any information but, this looks like it started as a familiar email scam that turned into a phishing attempt.
There a couple of new names to add to the growing list of scammers who are trying to get our products for nothing or actively phishing for valuable information. Here are a couple of emails I received in the last two months:
Please advise your most competitive price and expedited delivery for the attached items ASAP on or before 20.04.2018.
Quote with gross weight and dimension for freight calculation to our company.
Email and fax Quotation as stated in the attached
Awaits for your reply.
Kabeer Alex Manager
(sales & Sevices)
BMH GLOBAL RESOURCES LLCPH
PH: 76 984 0096 EXT 7FA
FA :(096) 984 0000″
Here is another:
Kindly Find The Attached Excel file for our new Purchase Order#TS11115673422_2222987643TC.
Komat Tech Co., LTD
6F.-1, No.184, Zhongyang Rd
Changhua City, Changhua County 50056,
This one had an Excel spreadsheet I was supposed to open to view the order. I didn’t.
This one from someone named Shawn Hendrix went on for a long time, my last email to him did the trick and I never heard from him again. It’s one of my favorites:
“Greetings to whom it may concern. My name is Shawn Hendrix. I would like to order some Handmade Soaps, and I would greatly appreciate if you can send any information that could help me in my selection process. Please elaborate on the various options along with the availability, prices, and terms of payment acceptable. If the quality is satisfactory and the terms are reasonable, I will place a large order soon. Looking forward to hearing from you.
We have many handmade soaps from local and international makers. All of our soaps use only natural ingredients without paraffin, perspectives, hardness, etc. In fact many use organic ingredients. We have soaps for dry skin, soap scented with essential oils, face soap, soap for gears hands and more in as many bars as you need. We accept all major credit cards and can ship.
Everything can be found at www.puresabao.com
Thanks for your interest,
At this point he said he was having trouble viewing our website. I kept asking him questions and answering his questions until he came up with order of 1,000 bar at $7.00 each. He said he has his own shipper that he has used many times. My last email was:
“For an order this size I require a bank transfer. I’m sure you understand the stolen credit card and pick up merchandise scam.
Never heard from him again.
Other names include:
If you have been contacted by these or other’s using different names, please send in your comments. It’s the only way to at least prevent another online retailer from getting scammed.