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Suspicious Discover purchase - How to verify it.

 9:49 pm on May 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Someone placed order using discover credit card. Paid for next day shipping over 500 USD for item worth 1500 USD. There were some mistakes in addresses, billing address different than shipping but matches AVS and CVV. Phone numbers instead of beeing from TX (billing and shipping) are from PA and NY (both cell phones). One for billing address and one for shipping. IP address where order was placed from matches China. Is there any phone number I can call to verify this purchase. Does Discover has number I can call so they can call number they have on account with credit card owner? I am not discover merchant, I use Intuit to process Discover. What should I do? If AVS matches, am I protected even if shipping address is different? Thank you for any help.



 12:35 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't know about the phone number, but what is the amount of your typical purchase?


 12:44 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

If it's a fraud transaction, you are not protected, even if your AVS and CVV match.

I think you already sense this is not a valid order. Go with your feelings.


 1:49 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for help. But is there any way to verify it. The purchase seems to be fine, except for next day shipping. I thought that there was some kind of system letting me get in touch with credit card owner. There must be some phone number to prevent fraud. I know that amex has it.


 2:06 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

The purchase seems to be fine except for next day shipping?

Let's see:

*An out of state alternate shipping address
*Out of state cell phone numbers
*And the order was placed from China?

I'd question it.

Call your credit card processor, if they can't help you they can tell you what to do.


 6:07 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why would someone pay 500$ for next day shipping on a 1500$ item?

Two possible reasons:

1. He needs the items very very very urgently.
2. He doesn't care about the 500$ because its not his money he is spending.

Together with all the clues msr986 has presented I would bet my money on reason no. 2.


 11:42 am on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

Believe me, that if they selected ground shipping (which would be free) I would process this order without any secound thoughts. Usually I don't verify IP and phone numbers to see if they match region. Plus email is registered on local portal for Washington DC offering free email addresses. So billing and shipping is from TX, but not the same address, phone numbers from NY and PA, email on local DC portal and IP order was placed from matches China. I don't think this order will be processed :D


 4:37 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

That order has so many red flags you should not even have to question it.


 5:13 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)


The first red flags I look for are different shipping and billing addresses along with express shipping. Next I log into my gateway to see if multiple purchase attempts were made with different credit cards. Lastly, I call my payment processor to obtain the full card number (I don't store it) and then call the bank that issued the card. They will generally contact the card holder for me to determine if the charges were legitimate or not.

I also search on the "Customer's" name, email address, phone number, IP and shipping address to get any available clues.

Generally, I go through all these steps because I really, really, really want that $10000 order to be legitimate. It usually isn't.

fraud master

 6:09 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree that this is definitely fraud. b2 ph#'s not matching the b2 address can be an indicator of fraud, the fact that the ip is from china is also extremely suspect. Another thing you need to check is the email address. Does the username reflect the CHs name? I understand lots of people do not user firstnamelastname@provider.com HOWEVER a random word or phrase @ freemailprovider.com is definitely a red flag with seen in conjunction with all those other suspicious attributes. Discover does have a charge verification program called Code 10. You call them and give them the transaction info and they attempt to validate it with the customer themselves. Unfortunately the info I have it is on my work PC and I don't have the number for you. I tried to google it but didn't get anything on it. It definitely exists though because the fraud analysts at work use it every now and then. Not as good as Amex chargeverification but it's something.

fraud master

 6:24 pm on May 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

also don't be afraid to call the cardholder and verify the order. this may not be popular for smaller merchants but i work for a large merchant and this is a common practice. everyone and their mom knows about cc fraud and ID theft with all their banks and commercials shoving protection plans down their throat. they usually are not thrown back by it and happy the comply. the only problem is doing it days later, they can be a little put off that it has not shipped yet and you are just now calling them. just explain to them you just wanted to ensure the order was valid and someone did not make an unauthorized purchase with their info. Ask them if they are traveling (china ip). Good verbiage to use is "Also Sir/mam are you traveling?

customer: why

merchant: Some of the information from your order made it appear as though it was placed overseas and being you are a new customer we just wanted to take extra precaution.

Scan for hesitation in their voice. Are they confident when providing answers?

Phone verification can make a huge difference. It's all a matter of how you deliver the questions you ask. Always take the approach of the friendly business protecting their customers and only resort to an interogation mode if none of what they say makes any sense. Half the time on an order that looks like the one you described, the phone is disconnected anyways. In the case of a disconnected ph#, always cancel. Good luck


 4:45 am on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Also a huge red flag when someone needs $1,500 worth of product so fast he is willing to pay $500 for next day shipping. Yet he doesn't bother to phone in the order to make sure you have it in stock and can get it right out.


I'd certainly phone him if for no other reason than as a learning experience.

Half the time on an order that looks like the one you described, the phone is disconnected anyways.

That's our experience or the call goes to someone who has never heard of the buyer. Few of these scammers are masterminds. Simple precautions can stop virtually 100% of your fraud. This deal has a terrible odor.


 2:47 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Excellent suggestions.

It certainly does not pass the sniff test, way too many red flags.

Are your products for industrial or commercial use? The reason I ask is because if you are shipping parts for some machine, many times a $500 shipping is nothing when compared to the money they will lose with the machine down. However, if the items can not fit that description and its an item that could be purchased locally, it makes zero sense to pay $500 for shipping.

Is the spelling and puncuation all messed up too? Is it is all CAPS or all lower case? Because that is another red flag in my experience.


 3:14 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yeah, what is it with fraudsters and the caps key?


 3:21 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't know, but I am glad they do it.


 4:07 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Try a white pages reverse lookup on the addresses and see if you can get a different contact number. If so, contact the person that way.

These days, with the proliferation of VoIP and other non-traditional telephony, a lot of people are getting phone numbers outside their physical address range (or keeping their old numbers when moving). Also, some people may be on a long-term assignment in a different state and have a cell phone (or even a landline) with a local number.

So while I certainly still consider mis-matched phone numbers/addresses to be a red flag (especially considering the other issues with this order), I don't necessarily consider them to be deal breakers by themselves.

But I also agree that this particular order hads too many red flags to ignore and requires follow-up. The paperwork you received for your Discover merchant accout setup should have a contact number to call for questions/authorization of this sort. If you call them with your concerns, Discover should be able to contact the card holder to verify he/she placed the order.


 5:12 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

i have had good luck by typing the first line of the shipping address into google along with the word fraud.

seemingly these fraudsters sometimes use the same addresses for a while and it is not unknown for previously scammed people to post the info online somewhere.


 7:22 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Got a suspicious order from Miami recently. Typed the address in Google and found a huge discussion about fraud from that transshipper who mostly sends stuff on to Panama. One poster who lived nearby drove over and snapped a picture with his camera phone. It was just a small largely unmarked warehouse in a seedy part of Miami. G lists a bunch of disparate businesses calling that address their "World Headquarters."

Good idea for a business: A network of locals who can report and perhaps photograph questionable ship-to's. I can envision a network of cab companies doing that.

Of course Zillo, G Earth and other sites are close to providing that info for free.

There are plenty of powerful anti-fraud tools if only shippers would use them. I'd hate to own stock in a Lagos web cafe lately. We haven't lost a cent to fraud in years.


 7:53 pm on May 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

We haven't lost a cent to fraud in years.

It has been a while for us too.

The last one came really close, a $2000 widget that needs special handling. His lack of patience made me put an "extra" delay on shipping. Then he freaked out and said he could not wait. We gave him the phone number of a competitor we do not like. We never reversed the credit card knowing the hammer would come down ... sure enough the bank reversed it for us 2 weeks later.

Not sure if our competitor got burned .. or maybe he does not know yet. ;-)


 6:32 pm on May 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Drives me crazy when the news refers to dumb greedy American merchants who constantly fall for simple African scams. The fact is it's possible to suffer nearly zero losses and I suspect many of us, in low risk fields, do just that. Credit card companies insist that online merchant losses are tiny and falling.

OTOH, no one loses more money on collections than radio/TV stations and print media, (especially in an election year!)

Not only do we suffer fewer losses than years ago but we are seeing far fewer fraud attempts. Internet Relay scams are history. We don't get quite as many emails from Nigerians princes. And those "Can you ship to my store in Bongo Bongo-land" emails have slowed.

So why doesn't the media cover THAT?


 8:05 am on May 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Go with your feelings

Only works if you are not the slightest bit paranoid, or are lucky enough to be Darth Vaders son.

The rest of us have to rely on factual evidence when deciding whether an order is legit.


 11:08 am on Jun 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

JSinger - "Drives me crazy when the news refers to dumb greedy American merchants who constantly fall for simple African scams. The fact is it's possible to suffer nearly zero losses and I suspect many of us, in low risk fields, do just that".

Agreed. Dumb and greedy merchants sums it up.

Where there is doubt one way out can be to advise the customer that most regretably the item is out of stock, and a breakdown at the manufacturers or minimum order quantities or whatever means that it cannot be replenished for several weeks. Lose an order - possibly. Lose a lot of trouble - more probably.

We have very little fraud, but where we DO suspect it (paranoia or no)we make an excuse for our inability to supply and suggest a competitor. In fact we have never had a chargeback.

[edited by: Philip_M at 11:13 am (utc) on June 1, 2008]


 9:15 pm on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all help. I did call both phone numbers given during checkout. Same thing, same answering machine right away without even one tone. Order was placed during memorial day holiday so I had to wait till first business day to call them. I did not ship the products and of course no one even call me to complain about it. BTW, I wish it was easier for merchants to just call credit card company and let them contact the owner of cc to verify purchase. Discover doesn't make it easy, I was transfered numerous times and given other phone numbers to call.


 4:01 am on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

We never reversed the credit card knowing the hammer would come down ... sure enough the bank reversed it for us 2 weeks later.

Rugles, this seems to be issue of Refund Vs Chargeback, I think I would have gone for the refund, I wouldn't wait to see if it was indeed a fraudlent order.

Is there not a possibility of the chargeback being issued upon the customer's request through his bank?

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