Be careful out there – the intricate web is also a jungle.

internet scamHere’s a warning to those who operate e-commerce sites.

Now, a big advantage of operating a website is the ability to offer your products throughout the world for no extra cost.  The worldwide acceptance of credit cards now gives the customer the ability to transfer funds across continents to make purchases, not available locally.

A very successful site I work  with had an enquiry from the Seychelles for Boat Winches. After receiving a reply, the ‘customer’ opted to purchase 50 of a model costing over £50 – an order in excess of £2,500. The fact that Mr Seal Waller did not request the ‘best price’ or a discount already started to cast a few doubts but, hey, the product was a bargain (as most of the items on the site) so maybe he didn’t need a discount  on top of the keen price

The next step was for Mr Seal Waller to request we contact his shipping agent Mr James Coleman for a quote.

Remarkably a quote of $1950 GBP was received. Whether it was meant to be dollars or pounds it was an incredible quote to send a 600 Kg pallet by air from London the Seychelles. However, the caveat was that we would be their client and needed prepayment before they would collect the pallet.

So now a scam is becoming clear.

Mr Seal Waller will make payment for the goods + shipping. We would then pay the shipper and then a few days later the credit card transaction would be reversed as it was stolen/fraudulent. They will not pick up the goods but you would still be out of pocket for 2 grand!

A search on the internet revealed the name Mr James Coleman being used as a pseudonym for the old Nigerian 419 scam back in 2001. That’s where you receive a letter  saying that you’d been highly recommended as an honest and reliable man and they needed your bank details so they could transfer many millions of $ and you would receive 20% for your trouble (and many variations thereof). They would then need an Advance Fee to facilitate (bribe the officials) the transfer. When they received ‘the fee’ that would be the last you hear of them

OK, maybe this scammer is not too bright but please be aware that there’s an element out to rob you whether you have a physical or an on-line shop.

  • Ensure you have the best fraud protection systems in place.
  • Are you protected if the shipping address is different to the billing address?
  • Do you take PayPal? If so are you fully compliant with their seller protection scheme?
  • Do you ‘bend the rules’ to offer the best customer service leaving you open to charge-backs?
  • Be doubly careful if the customer telephones as they’d rather not purchase through the site checkout.

Remember if something seems too easy/good to be true – maybe it isn’t.

Tony Heywood – Gilcrest Services Ltd
Retail Troubleshooter
Business Turnaround and Recovery

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