It begins innocently enough, with an email. One with a little something irregular enough to catch your attention. A customer who wants to buy some of your products, but not just a few – a LOT. To make matters even more legit, they are a minister or missionary, someplace overseas.
Dear So and So, we were at your website and want to buy 100 cases of your candles. We would like to know how much this will be.
You excitedly respond ~ who wouldn’t want to sell 100 cases of candles. And so the exchange begins…
It all seems so innocent and they seem so sincere. But then the kicker… since they are overseas, they want to give you the name of their shipper, someone they’ve worked with before and trust. They will make all the arrangements, you just need to get your shipment ready. Can you include the shipping payment to the carrier in their billing? Of course! For 100 cases why wouldn’t you? You eagerly bill them, the carrier bills you and off you go. They send you a check, money order, etc.
This is where the scam gets interesting. There are several variations on it, either the check or money order will be higher than the actual amount and they will ask you for a refund of the difference, claiming they ‘misunderstood’, or suddenly some profound life event will happen and they need to back out of the transaction. They ask for a full refund. You cut them a check.
Meanwhile, their check or money order turns out to be invalid. You are out the funds.
Just remember the old adage – “If it sounds to good to be true…”.
Never ship until your funds have cleared completely. Make that clear to anyone that buys from you. Don’t ship with carriers you are not familiar with, always use a trusted carrier like UPS, FedEx or the US Postal System. Be upfront with any customer requesting to use their carrier and just tell them, you only use one of the big 3. 99% of the time, that will be the last you hear from them.
If a customer is for real, they will understand your terms and work with you to get the product they desire. Make sure all funds have posted to your account and don’t let excitement or greed get the best of you.
Here is the latest email they are working with:
Hello there, I want to buy some PRODUCTS from your company to my new store in [Australia] (the country changes each time, but always over seas), I will like to know if you accept credit card and ship internationally as I have got new shops opening in other part of the world. So please let me know if you can assist me with the order I will await your prompt response as soon as you receive this mail, I will be very glad if you treat this email with good concern… You can reply back to (email address)