If you have received a scammer email, or ‘sold’ an item to a scammer, please enter the senders email in a comment below. Others who receive the email can search the email address and find this thread and be forewarned.
The post for August blog entry was suppose to be Pinterest – Pinning for Profit: How to Maximize Traffic and Sales through Pinterest. However, in the last few days we have been reminded of the proliferation of scams in today’s digital world and we decided to pose a few words of caution.
We are a marketing and graphic design firm in Lansing Michigan area specializing in Brand Marketing. We also provide print estimates for businesses print marketing. We have an email on our website for visitor inquiries and we also have an online estimate form. The online estimate form is protected from spammers by a captcha which helps filter the real from the fake inquires. However, it is not fail proof, nor is the email link on the website.
In the last week we received these second email this year from a Rick Barry seeking a printing estimate. Now, we provide printing quotes and print services but we are primarily a marketing and design firm. Customers do not usually just call on us for a printing quote. Our existing customers may request print estimates for the graphic design projects we have developed for them but seldom do we have someone contact us just for printing. That was my first red flag. The next caution was there was no contact information other than the email they sent form (scammers usually use a free email service like g-mail, hotmail, yahoo, etc., and lastly there was no company name given anywhere in the message.
My initial thought was this was another print service company phishing for prices (yes, it happens in every industry). Upon further research we discovered this is a wide spread scam. Had we provided a quote the scam would be for them to accept it and send us a pdf to print from. They then provide us credit card billing information. As the project moves forward some emergency will come that requires a shipment out of the country and they insist on using a specific shipping company that, of course that comes up with an exorbitant shipping cost, that then is added to the bill and they have you charge it all to one credit card. Within a few days the card is charged back to you and you are stuck with shipping fees, taxes, paper and employee time to prepare the project.
Some of the other names associated with this particular scam are: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
Other cautions to avoid online scams:
- Look at the-mails you receive – especially those that say the purchaser has paid you. Look to see where those have come from. If it says “You have received money from ___@___.com via Paypal. Make sure the actual email is from Paypal an email address. Even if it has a Paypal or recognized logo – the scammer can get that off any website and recreate an email with the stolen logo.
- If there is no artwork provided and they place the order for a printing project.
- They don’t ask questions or negotiate. Everyone trys to negotiate price these days or asks about payment structure, etc. when they are ready to place an order.
- Be wary of any excuses or emergencies that come up during the process.
- If you receive unsolicited inquiries about services you typically don’t provide at random.
So friends, be careful. Not just with online print estimates but with selling products online, even if it is just an occasional item on CraigsList or Facebook. If you are selling to someone you do not know, don’t ship anything, don’t accept any form of payment other than cold hard cash or a cashier’s check. If you accept a credit card payment, look at the processing time the merchant takes to confirm the payment before shipping the product. Just this week a family member was taken for $900.00 through CraigsList for a MacPro she was trying to sell. She received an email noting that the recipient had deposited the payment in her Paypal account so she shipped the laptop. Unfortunately the payment never ended up in the account. The scammer gave a ton of reasons why the payment wasn’t showing up, blaming Paypal, saying she would ship the MacPro back… now there is no computer and no $900.00. I have advised her to contact authorities here and where she shipped it… we’ll see…
Be Proactive Against Scams for Printing Quotes and others:
- If they change the delivery from pick up to shipping. Check the address in Google maps or Mapquest, etc.
- Search their name, email and other information online
- Be wary of those who have honorable or religious designations; Reverend, Honorable, etc. Scammers try to play on the sympathies of their targets.
- Check with snoops.com and other online sites to see if there have been other reports.
When you hear of these scammers, post their emails, phone numbers, names online – everywhere! Add them in comments below! It doesn’t have to just be the printers scam. The more we publicize specific scams and the scammers names, emails and tactics the more others can be protected.