November 15, 2008
An LO member is warning other companies who may receive a request to ship products overseas. What seems like a straightforward business transaction is actually yet another Internet scam. The fraud was caught in time, and no harm was done, but companies need to be aware of a potentially dishonest transaction.

The process began with an e-mail requesting information on one of the member’s products. Following several e-mails, a female confirmed the order for shipment to Morocco. She said she wanted it shipped by a specific company, and that the company would provide the quotation and complete the paperwork for shipping.

She requested an expensive air freight option (worth double what the product is worth) and asked what form of payment the company would accept. She was told Visa and Mastercard, and she provided the company with not one, but three, credit card numbers, requesting the amount to be split into three equal charges.

“The alarm bells went off then,” says the LO member, “and if we had continued with the purchase, the freight company would have asked for the money to be wired immediately. The address for the freight company wasn’t on the Internet, so we sent them an e-mail asking for a physical address, phone number and received no response. The credit card company could have come back to us for payment.”

Watch for the following warning signs to prevent being scammed:
  1. The inquiry will come over the Internet. While there is interest in the product, it won’t be significant. There will only be enough quantity to build credibility. They will likely ask for bulky or heavy products to build up the case for a large freight bill.
  2. No address or phone number will accompany the message. If you ask for the phone number, the request will be ignored and diverted back to e-mail.
  3. The destination will likely be overseas, with Africa the most common. While they will supply a shipping address, it is likely fictitious.
  4. The purchaser will supply the freight company contact, via the Internet.
  5. They will choose the most expensive option — air freight.
  6. There will be no contact information on the e-mail from the freight company, other than the Internet contact person.
  7. Amounts to be charged to the credit card will be small enough as to not likely exceed the limit.
  8. The purchaser will ask you to notify them immediately when the amounts go through.
  9. If it had gone through, the freight company would have asked for an immediate money order to be sent electronically.
  10. No one comes to pick up the product.