Shipping scam targeting online sellers

A warning to anyone selling online!

A DecoNetwork customer reported that they were nearly conned by a shipping scam targeting online sellers.

Luckily some intuition and a little back-ground checking unveiled the scam before they lost thousands but it’s an important reminder to anyone selling online – be very, very careful.

The scam in a nutshell:

  • Usually the seller is from overseas originating from Nigeria, Indonesia or now South Korea.
  • They contact you by email claiming they want to order a very large amount of your products. Woo hoo!
  • They claim their credit card can only support transactions of around $500 at a time therefore want to buy outside of your normal shopping cart and payment gateway facility. Hmm strange…
  • Further more they provide two credit card numbers to split the costs. Um…
  • They claim they have a preferred private shipping provider and ask that you contact them to arrange shipping. Ok plausible but why can’t they contact and book their shipping provider?…
  • You contact the shipping provider and they supply two shipping methods: Express or standard. Express is excessively high and usually into the thousands of dollars.
  • You inform this new prospect and being in a super hurry to receive your wonderful products they request express and are happy to pay thousands for shipping. Now this is getting weird…
  • They ask you to immediately debit their cards for the total cost of the goods AND shipping fee and request that you order the shipping direct with their nominated shipping provider.
  • You debit the credit cards in chunks (as requested) and all seems OK.
  • You book the shipping and pay up front.
  • Soon your charges to the customers credit card are reversed and the private shipping provider does not comes to collect the order.
  • The shipping fees you pay vanish into thin air and you never hear from the customer or shipping provider again… DOH!

This scam has been confirmed by Australian banks and today alone numerous Australian businesses have contacted the banks to clarify if this dream customer is truly real. This is quite concerning as you can imagine many businesses may not look too deep into it and think they just scored their best order of the week.

Things to look out for:

  • Poor English
  • Requesting a quick turnaround
  • Requests very little information about your products. Just wants to buy, buy, buy and fast, fast, fast!
  • Ordering of products they could probably get cheaper in their own country
  • The buyer wants to use their private shipping provider
  • In this particular string of scams hitting Australia right now the credit card details start with 5485 8400 2216 XXXX.
  • Expiry dates of the two credit cards are approximately 6 months apart.

So how to protect yourself?

When selling over the internet to strangers it is safer to stay within the tools and systems you have in place.

Deviating from your standard proven and protected method of doing business not only complicates the sales process but opens you to fraud like this.

Use your standard payment gateway and your shipping provider. In this case stick to the DecoNetwork system as you have full control over the payment and shipping services it uses.

Retain control of the selling process at all times and only use services you know and trust as you have no idea who is on the other end of the transaction.

Finally if the order seems too good to be true it probably is. A simple phone call to your bank to verify their credit card details can save you thousands and hopefully protect others in the future.

If you believe you have been the victim of this scam or have a current order that sounds very similar to this contact your banks fraud department to verify the credit card details.

Robert Bici November 30, 2012

Same thing happaned to me,somebody supposedly from Australia(Solomon Islands) wanted to buy $1500 worth of marchendise and use ONLY their shipper and asked me to pay $1100 to shipper ,but all these looked suspicious and did not fall for it.I was glad to read your article to satisfy my decision.Thank you for posting this article.