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spotting tell-tale signs of fraud

fraud warning signs

5:42 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi All,

First time poster, fairly recent member to the community.

I'm ten years into a mail-order busines that morphed into an e-commerce site despite my self-denials on the subject. Over the years we've gotten good at spotting the attempts at fraud (after learning some tough lessons several years ago with shipments to Nigeria, Indonesia, and Malaysia).

Today, though, I received a curious e-mail from a person using a yahoo.uk account wanting to buy 4K worth of merch via certified cashier's check. He will send a shipping company to pick up the goods.

He did not ask for a discount even though we are primarily in the business of shipping to end-user consumers.

I replied asking for further information on his company and the destination of the goods. He gave me the company name and told me the goods were headed for the United Arab Emirates / Dubai.

I also told him I wouldn't release any goods until my bank had verified the validity of the Certified Check to which he agreed. (I read an article in the NY Times a couple of weekends ago about fraudulent US Postal Money Orders so I'm even more suspicious).

I feel like this sounds too good to be true. Are there warning signs I am missing? Have I asked all of the necessary questions?


Jeff Weiss

6:06 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

From what you are describing, I would suggest...walk a way. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

I have heard of cases where 3 weeks after the deposit a check was found to be fraud or NSF. Somewhere in the tiny letters of the agreement you have with your bank makes a case like that your problem and your loss, not the bank's.

6:21 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Trust your instincts.
6:24 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

wait for your bank to verify before taking any final step
6:36 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Do a site search. About 4 or 5 months ago, we put together a great list of fraud signals.
9:24 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

He will send a shipping company to pick up the goods.

Does he intend to get the payment to you via the driver of the van?
Then it's most certainly a scam, ie does not give you time to wait for payment clearance.

If you want to pursue this, I would suggest he sends you the payment and you let him know when to come for the pick-up. Even if he has to wait weeks for your bank to confirm that the money is there. If he's serious he will accept, if not he will walk away ;o)

9:52 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Whenever alarm bells ring for me, the deciding factor is 'will I worry about this order for the next six months?'

Normally the answer is yes - and its just not worth the stress/worry/time/costs invloved.

If it smells like fraud, it probably is.

8:30 am on May 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Is the order value hugely above what a normal consumer would buy? If it is then alarms should start to ring. By the sound of it they also want "fast shipping" by their own courier and they are "not worried about cost". That's 3 of the biggest alarm bells in my book.

Tell them you do not accept international cheques and see what alternatives they offer.

If you still want to proceed then ask them for the name and country of the bank that the cheque will be drawn from and in what name. Call that bank and explain to them that you suspect someone is trying to use a stolen/forged cheque and see what they can do to help. I can't say if the above will help at all as I've not had to do it myself but others here may have and perhaps could comment?


8:42 am on May 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

it is a fraud for sure.

you also know this, which is why you are posting here, if you didn't think it was it wouldn't have occured to you to doubt it.

2:39 pm on May 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One cannot say that it is fraud - it does sound like it. You come here because your gut tells you - this feels like fraud. So you want reassurances that you are turning for a $4,000 order.

Only you can ultimately make that decision. Talk to your bank - if you do not have a good bank representative, this is the time to get one. No one here can tell you the extact thing to do. We have not seen the check, we have not heard the conversations, or read all the emails. Your bank needs to verify the check and then you need to find out what happens if, say in one month, they actually realize the check is fraud? Are you still responsible or has too much time lapsed?


4:35 pm on May 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can't you ask for a wire transfer (and wait till it's really deposited & can't be withdrawn?)
5:10 pm on May 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Your bank will clear the cheque because the bank trusts you and knows they can get the money out of you later if it bounces.

You will wait a few days just to make sure everything is kosher. Buddy will send a truck to pick up the goods (so that you won't be able to track the shipment once it leaves your dock, it may well be going down the street to the local pawn shop or to Nigeria).

You are happy, he is happy. Then 10 days later you look at your Bank Balance or worse yet get a call from your supplier saying the cheque you wrote him has come back NSF - causing extra grief for you.

This is not a new scam. Dubai is a good cover city as the perception is that evryone there swims in oil money and could give a crap about discounts and costs because they are so rich.

8:56 pm on May 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

pass on it.

risk > return

6:20 pm on May 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If it's a cashier's check, it's unlikely to be NSF. If it's forged or altered, the banks could have months to return it (I think...).

Here's a useful site:

The merchants section or forum may help.

[edited by: lorax at 8:57 pm (utc) on May 17, 2005]
[edit reason] delinked [/edit]

9:02 am on May 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

pass on it.

risk > return

Yes. Let it go...


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