I don’t want to belabor the point—I have blogged and reported on these scams previously--but the best way, and seemingly the only way, to beat a scam is to stop it before it happens. Know their tactics. Know the red flags.
According to my scam sources (a.k.a., business owners that have been scammed or nearly scammed), this is how the fake shipping company scam usually works:
- A customer contacts a shop via relay operator or e-mail to order a large quantity of product; in the glass industry, it’s usually 1/8-inch or ¼-inch annealed glass. (Red flags: The email exchanges are often littered with misspellings and poor grammar, and often come from a Gmail, Yahoo or similar free e-mail account.)
- The customer wants to pay for the product with a credit card and wants to ship the order a large distance, sometimes the end destination is across the country, sometimes it’s on another continent. The purchasing credit card is usually stolen. (Red flags: Scammers usually place an order for products they could easily get from a local shop, and the credit card billing address doesn't match the shipping address.)
- The customer says they want to use their preferred shipping company to transport the product. The customer asks the business to pay the delivery company directly and says they will send a check or money order the business to repay the delivery costs. (Red flag: Business owners have reported scammers request to use the shipping companies AGC Delivery International, Ox Direct Shippers or Cargo Trust Shipping Freight Co.)
- After the business has paid the delivery company, the scammer’s check or money order won’t go through, leaving the business without the thousands of dollars of delivery costs and with wasted product.
“We almost got taken. We had a order for approximately $12,000.00 to be shipped to Ghana. $6000.00 of that was shipping to be paid to via money gram to Agc Delivery International,” one business owner told me in a recent email. "I did not start checking things out until the three cards they gave me were declined. I typed the delivery company and your site popped up.”
Visit the Scam Alert page to see the latest postings from other business owners.
If you are contacted by a scammer, tell your peers and tell us. We’ll anonymously post your scam stories, fraud identification tips and any other advice you have on our Scam Alert page to help warn other business owners. Leave a comment on this blog, or e-mail me directly.
—Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor, retail glass co-editor, Glass Magazine
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