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The Scam That Almost Got Me

Aug 17, 2007
As a business owner, it's usually my role to convince our customers of our legitimacy, not the other way around. Marketing over the internet is the single most powerful system our business has for generating prospects for our offline services. I've had to deal with clients who were less than willing to pay, whose checks bounced, and who had unrealistic expectations. Today was the first time someone tried to use our business to facilitate their scamming.

We were contacted through the email address posted on our website. Our site is easily found for our market since we rank first and second for the keywords in our niche. In the email, the supposed client asked about fees and a certain date for services to be rendered. We replied with our rates and availability for that date.

Soon we received a response saying that our rates were acceptable and that he wanted to schedule. We reserved the date and asked for a non-refundable booking fee. Correspondence continued off and on for the next couple of weeks but there were several factors that made us suspicious.

The English in the messages seemed a bit broken and the name didn't sound normal. The first name that the scam artist claimed as his seemed a more appropriate last name than a first name, but we didn't judge him by that alone because I've seen some pretty stupid names before. He claimed to be in Ireland and used a yahoo address from the United Kingdom so it seemed somewhat normal, except that he said we would receive payment from his nameless associate in Nebraska, who was supposedly leaving for Brazil.

Fortunately we were prudent enough to request the payment be sent to a P.O. Box, since we were a little suspicious. Once we received the payment in an envelope with no return address, our employees were startled to find postal money orders totaling more than three times the total quoted price. Past clients have been very generous with us so we were excited that it could potentially be extraordinary generosity, but we were terribly suspicious as well and did not deposit the checks. Upon examination, there was no clear indication that they were fraudulent, however, we felt like something strange was afoot.

We sent an email thanking the scam artist for his quick response and named the total amount sent to us, asking for his confirmation that he intended such. The response was sickly predictable.

The reply stated that the "associate" in Nebraska made a mistake in sending us that much and that we were to deposit our checks, deduct the booking fee and an extra one hundred dollars for our trouble. Once that was accomplished we were supposed to send the remaining funds via Western Union to somebody in China who was supposedly shipping "additional event supplies."

We alerted our bank immediately and forwarded them the message. They laughed at how obvious the scam was and told us to send a scathing reply, telling the scam artist that we were on to him. The checks were most assuredly fraudulent, and our business remains safe.
About the Author
Tyler Ellison teaches how to make money online marketing legally using automated systems and guerilla techniques to promote businesses.
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