Tuesday, June 22, 2010
It starts innocently enough with an email.
"Hello, I am interested in your displayed wedding dress on www.thegreenhangershop.com. I needed to know if the sale is still on.Kindly e-mail me at email@example.com and let me know.Thanks. Abigail"
The seller, anxious to respond to a potential buyer, fails to notice the lack of specific questions and the odd language. This scammer gets off to a good start. Most use very poor English. So the seller responds and then receives this.
I am sorry i didn't respond to your e-mail soon.Thanks for replying my e-mail.I am interested in the purchase of the gown for my wedding.Really, i like the dress as it is on the Listing.The dress is absolutely beautiful.,I have few questions though regarding the gown What is it condition? Does it come in factory bag or box for shipment ? Do you have photos to see for close viewing? Please e-mail me asap and let me know your asking price without shipping cost.I'm not local, i live in fort worth, Texas and i am afraid i won't be chanced to come see it and try it on and that's why i will be responsible for the shipment. All this i need to let my fiance know about because he's funding . I look forward to hearing from you.Thanks."
Sound legit to you? Not me. The language, again, is just off enough to raise some red flags. They won't be "chanced"? "close viewing" ? "funding"? I know there are those who will say, "But maybe they are real, how do you know?" Okay, keep going if you dare, but for me, the gut check has already told me to stop communicating with this one. Maybe I am just too much of a skeptic, but I strongly believe in the "Better safe than sorry." approach.
Sure enough, a trusting seller didn't catch the signs. This is what happened next. She wrote:
" Hi! I just wanted to let you know that for the past 2 weeks I have been communicating with someone by the name of Abigail Weir who is supposedly interested in purchasing my wedding dress that I have posted on your website. I wanted to make you aware of the situation, I received a check via FedEx on Wednesday made out to me personally with no signature. She asked me to sign the check with her fiance's name and I have refused to do so. I also didnt mention that they have over paid me (supposedly in error) and she has asked me to pay a vendor with the remaining monies that the check is for. I have refused to do so. I have no contact phone numbers nor an address for this person, but in case someone else complains about her then you know there is a scam going on.
For all I know she may be for real but I havent received any more contact from her except for last evening when she told me to sign her fiance's name, Michael Rivera. I contacted my Bank to see if this was valid, and as we all know its fraudulent."
So there you have it. The scam in all its glory. I still can't believe they get people to fall for it, but they do, and it must prove profitable for them.
You might say that you won't use the Internet for buying or selling. You will miss out on some wonderful opportunities though. I choose to approach people I encounter for what they are...COMPLETE STRANGERS. Do not be afraid to ask probing questions. Only use secure payment transaction services, such as Paypal. Do not be too quick to ship an item. Give the banks or Paypal time to secure the payment.
If you fall victim, and I hope you never do, you may report the incident to your local law enforcement, and even the Internet Crime Complaint Center, but keep in mind that they are dealing with matters of life and death. Unless you are in danger or have lost a large amount of money, a good defense is your best protection. I appreciate the sellers who kept me informed about what was happening, and I encourage anyone who suspects a scam to let the website know. The Shop may have defeated this one, but another will appear sooner or later. It is an unfortunate fact of life in this new age of ecommerce.
And that is the ugly truth.
Posted by Judy@grammyreads.com at 9:19 AM