We've all heard about and seen lottery scams (where you get an email out of the blue saying you've won a lottery … that you do not even remember entering!), The scams where telemarketers insist they need your SS #, the scams where you receive an email from a credit card company stating that they need to verify your SS # and other info (half the time you do not even have an account with the company!), and my favorite … the email from a Government official in Nigeria that often starts "Dear Madam, I got your information from a confidential source …" The letter then goes on to tell you a story of a huge amount of money hidden overseas that the writer of the letter wishes to put in your bank account. In return, he promises you a big cut of the cash. Really? Come on! And there are numerous more scams that we've all encountered.
Recently I was approached by two that I had never heard of. So I wanted to pass this on to make sure that nobody falls for these. Luckily I did not fall for them, but I can see how some people would. One is targeted at wedding professionals, and the other at anyone!
I recently received the following email:
Greetings, My Name is Capt.Brian Stark, I am looking for an experienced wedding planner who will handle my wedding. The wedding is to hold on the 8th October 2009 and 40 guests are expected to attend. You are to arrange for Videography, Music, Entertainment, Photography, Officiant / Priest & cake, flowers and Reception Venue. If there is any of these items that you can not handle, you let us know so that another company can handle it. As i do not know what the guests may choose for their meals and drinks, i will make a prepayment as initial deposit for this booking once availability is confirmed by you. Best Regards, Capt.Brian Stark, +1 360 450 2124
The first thing I did was see where the 360 area code was from. It was near Seattle, WA. I thought it was a bit strange but I emailed him back to get further information. He said he was looking to get married in Harrisburg, PA because that's where most of his army friends were from. I also noticed the date was a Thursday so I asked why a Thursday. He said because most of his friends were being deployed to Iraq that coming Saturday.
I told him I would call him to get more details. When I did I had a ton of questions to ask him, as any good planner should. I could tell I was getting him flustered with all the questions. I guess it was easier to make up lies via email! He finally hung up on me. So I called back and there was no voice mail, the phone just rang and rang. I then searched on the internet and sure enough, other planners had encountered, and fallen for, this scam. The way it works is the client sends your deposit along with some extra money. He then wants you to send that extra money to the band he is booking. After doing that about 30 days later you find out the check bounced but it's too late, you've already sent the money to this "band" who is actually a partner of his in the scam. After searching the internet I found similar scams for wedding photographers also. So beware … trust your instincts … if it looks fishy always check it out first!
The next scam is targeted towards anyone! I recently listed a Coach bag for sale on Craigslist. I received an email from someone pointing he wanted to buy it for his daughter. He said he would pay me both for the purse and the money to ship it to his daughter. He was going to pay me through PayPal. Sounds great so far …
The next day I got an email from him stating he made the payment through PayPal. I also got an email from PayPal (at least what looked like an official PayPal email) stating that there was a payment waiting for me from this guy but before they would release it they needed me to send them the shipping confirmation. It stated that this was their new policy. The funny thing is the email even addressed PayPal frauds! Ha! Guess he thought that would really fool me! I got two other official looking emails shortly after that.
The first thing I did was go directly to my PayPal account (NOT using the link in the email). I did not see any money deposited or anything about a new policy of needing shipment info before releasing a payment. So I found an email address for PayPal scams and forwarded them the emails. They immediately confirmed it was a fraud.
With this fraud they would not get any money, but they would get away with the item you are selling! I showed the email to some people and they said they definitely would have fallen for it. If you'd like me to forward the emails to you so you know what to watch for just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . To report scams check out this link http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/reporting.php , it's how I found the email address for the PayPal scam.
Please pass this info on so nobody falls for either of these scams! Thanks!