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Potential Scam or Fraud???

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  • Potential Scam or Fraud???


    This is going to be a long post so I can explain the situation thoroughly.

    I have been dealing with an international customer for past 23 days or so. She contacted me asking if I would ship to Kazakhstan. I ship all over the world so this wasn't unusual and I have other customers in that region. But, the red flag was raised when she asked if her brother, who is living in Saudi Arabia, could pay for her order using Gift Certificates. I told her that he would still have to use a credit card so why not have him pay for the order instead.

    She has been asking very thoughtful questions about the merchandise and she has been very polite and formal in her writing despite the language barrier.

    At one point because her brother wasn't following through for her she attempted to pay herself using her own card which she did say wasn't sure would work. It was declined. Finally, two days ago her brother completed the order using his credit card. It was authorized and the batch settled ok.

    After her order was complete she immediately sent me an email asking if it had shipped yet. I have avoided shipping her order by asking her detailed questions about her shipping address.

    I called and they weren't any help. So, in an attempt to find any information on her I looked up her IP address and it is coming from Kazakhstan. I followed her original Google search term and one of my competitors came up first in the search so I called them. They had an email exchange with her and also thought she was thoughtful, but that it was becoming difficult so they told her they couldn't help her. Then, she found me.

    Another red flag I have noticed is that her last name is spelled two different ways, but this can be common when trying to translate another language script into English. And, I found an odd post from 2008 that contained her telephone number and email address, but the post was in Russian so I had a friend translate it for me. She thought it was a very strange post.

    Her rough translation reads: [customer] asks if business sells yellow sulphur and other chemicals like amonia chloride, urea and other petro-chemical compounds.. and they are interested in long-term cooperation, don't request the full payment because KGB controls their transactions."

    The day after the sale she has already filled up another shopping cart full of merchandise.

    Does this seem odd to anyone else? Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I've been tormented by this for days!

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Sounds very fishy to me--especially since (I'm sure) the shipping charges weren't so cheap. If legit, why not order all at once??? What kind of products are these?


    • #3
      I sell mostly vintage ethnic jewelry and textiles. Almost all of my merchandise is unique and one-of-a-kind. I'm not certain why she didn't make a purchase all at once. Unless she's just filling her cart and waiting until the next pay day??? Who knows?

      Shipping wasn't that expensive as I'm shipping it First Class International.


      • #4
        I'm a pretty experienced international shipper and although there is no single big red flag I can point to, this does feel like it is not legitimate.
        What I usually do in situations where I'm having trouble determining fraud or not is that I ask for buyer to scan their ID card and credit card and email me the photo. About 50% of the people I've asked to do this have followed through, and of those that did I have never ended up having a fraud issue.

        The third party credit card is tricky, I would probably want a scan of the brother's ID also showing the Saudi Arabia address. Also verify that the card is issued by a Saudi bank, using this site and the first six digits of the card number:


        • #5
          Thanks for your response, cbsteven!

          I don't think I would ever email an image of my credit card to anyone. Email is not secure. But, that's just me!

          Her brother's billing address is the same as her address so I'm wondering if her other brother didn't end up paying for the order. The billing address has to match the match what the credit card company has on file. Since the address is the same as hers it doesn't seem as odd.

          I'm going to take my chances on this one and ship it out. I've probably lost more to theft vending at festivals than I would if this order turns out fraudulent. If she turns out to be legit I may end up with a good customer.

          Interesting web site. I'll have to check into that further.


          • #6
            Free online bank identification number bin database to prevent fraud attempts.