Telltale Signs You’re About to be Scammed.

9 Comments

Today’s post comes from Gretchen (who made excellent use of our complaint form.) She works in the customer service department at a furniture company and was savvy enough to spot the scam and save her business thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise.

She writes…

This isn’t a complaint, because no money has changed hands, but I think I’ve discovered a new twist on the Nigerian scam, aimed at manufacturers.

I work for a furniture manufacturer and wholesaler, and part of my job as customer service is to monitor the sales and support emails. The other day, we got the following (our company name removed for privacy reasons):

“from: luda reply-to: luda

date Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM
subject:Mail Order ……
mailing list
mailed-bygroups.bounces.google.com
signed-bygmail.com

Hello Sales i would like to order some product from your store to mine in australia .so let me know if can ship down to australia so that i can email you the product i am interested in.also Payment will be done via credit card details if you do accept that let me know so that i can place my order and the Items will be picked Up by my shipping Company at you store,please Get back to me so that i can email you the items i am interested .address:21/49 Norcal Road Nunawading, Victoria Australia 3131 Phone (+61 ) 9873 7677 Fax (+61 ) 9873 7655 Thanks luda Johnson
73 7655 Thanks luda Johnson”

First red flag: why is this copied to herself, at a different email?? Our company doesn’t have an overseas carrier, so I reply to her saying that we can only ship to the coast, and that she’ll have to hire someone to move the freight forward from there. I also give her our toll-free number and payment options. Her reply came from a third email, luda2008jou@gmail.com, asking for pricing. I answer that we’re only able to sell to retailers, which usually stops these guys dead in their tracks (this isn’t the first time we’ve gotten these), but she immediately replies with the following:

“Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Here is the Information you requested for
Company Name :Luda Brother Limited
Address 1035 B QUEEN STREET BRISBANE QLD 4000 AUSTRALIA.
ph: 07 60630598
await to read from you with the Cost .thanks”

Notice that this is different from the original address she gave me. But as far as I know, it’s a valid company name, so I reply with pricing of the furniture she wants, and attach our price list for good measure. Up to now, other than being out of country, everything sounds normal for our customers. Her next reply:

“Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 9:26 AM

Hi
I’m ready to pay the bills send me an invoice via mail and i will email you my Credit Card. But i just got a response from my shipping Agent that he cannot receive payment via credit or debit card from me at the moment. So i want you to help me Charge another $1850.00 to a shipping agent who is going to pick up my ordered items from you and Some of Our Items Order in Canada.
The $1850.00 that will be sent to the shipping agent is for the shipping of my order plus other items i ordered from different countries which will be deduct from my credit card.Also,I’m compensating you with the sum of $250.00 for the transfer fee and for your efforts.. Please note that i should have given the shipping agency my credit card for him to deduct the shipping funds but he told me that he doesn’t have the facilities to charge or debit credit card,so that’s why i bring my vote of confidence in you and i don’t want you to betray the vote of confidence i put in you, so i want you to transfer the funds to him after you have make the charges and the money charged from my credit card is in your account,then you can now make the transfer to the agent via western union.i will have love to do this my self but there no western union here around me,So the charges you’ll make on my credit card will be:

Order Fee ($4345.00)
Agent fee with shipping fare ( $1850.00 )
Transfer Fee plus Your Compensation ( $250.00 )
Total:(US $6445.00)

Note that my credit card will be charged for the amounts above.Please do get back to me if you are in the office right now so that i can forward my credit card details to you , then you can charge full amount and transfer the agent funds to him via western union or money gramm.await to read from you if you can assist me .
Luda”

Red flags are going off all over the place now. If the credit card is ok for us to run, why not the shipping agent? Any reputable company should be perfectly capable of running a credit card. Fortunately, this is something our company won’t do, so I replied nicely telling her that. So far I haven’t heard back, but I expect to get at least two more emails pleading with me to run the charge anyway.

If this isn’t big enough for an investigation, I totally understand… but our company gets these at least once a week, and we’re not that big. I shudder to think if a scammer managed to hook another company… and then bilked them for thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Luckily for Gretchen, she knew how to spot the scam and thus avoided a major headache. Posts like these make me wonder how many people fall victim to these kinds of scams on a daily basis.

You know, there’s one thing I don’t get when it comes to the scammers and that’s Western Union’s involvement. They have to know by now that their services are used by scammers the world over. Why is it that they can’t put a stop to it? Perhaps ask some preemptive questions to make sure their customers aren’t going to lose money. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask. What do you think?

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9 Comments

  1. I just received the same email from Luda “chris”
    and it is ludicrous! They want the product too fast and they were very vague on the products they wanted. Just got a bad feeling about this – so googled the name Luda Johnson.
    Maybe if they had of spelled Johnson with an “en” instead of an “on” – they may have gotten farther – not!
    “en” is Norwegian “on” is Swedish

    Reply
  2. I just got the message from “chris” luda2008jou@gmail.com . He wanted the shipment to go to Norway. Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  3. I’ve been playing with “luda” and he/she/it sent six credit cards with instructions to make two charges on each. I pretended that three bounced and was sent four more to try. I pretended that two of those bounced and was sent three more Now I sent a fictitious Western Union transfer number for the shipping agent.

    This was all done using a throwaway e-mail account (not the one that the request came to).

    NOTE – if you do play with scammers – use a throwaway e-mail and expect to be threatened and/or insulted when the deal doesn’t finish.

    Reply
  4. I receive these regularly, usually through my company email. This time it came to my private email so I decided to have a little fun with them.

    ——————————————————————————–

    From: Mark Morgan [mailto:joeblair101@yahoo.com]
    Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 6:57 PM
    Subject: mail order

    Hello Sales Department .

    i would like to order some product from your store to mine in australia .so let me know if can ship down to australia so that i can email you the product i am interested in.also Payment will be done via credit card details if you do accept that let me know so that i can place my order and the Items will be picked Up by my shipping Company at you store,please Get back to me so that i can email you the items i am interested .

    Address: 86 Foxlow Street Captains Flat NSW 2623 Australia
    Phone 61 2 (02) 6236 61600 Fax 61 2 (02) 6236 6160

    Thanks

    Warm Regards

    Mark Morgan

    My response:

    Yes I will take your credit card and you can pay me cash. Let me know if this ok and I bill you right away.

    From: Mark Morgan [mailto:mrkmorgan43@gmail.com]
    Sent: Friday, August 27, 2010 11:56 AM
    To: Removed
    Subject: Re: mail order

    Email me your website address or product you have in stock with price list.

    Thanks

    My Response:

    Yes I send you my website and stock list. You send me cash payment and credit card info. You pick up at my store right away.

    Let’s see how many nonsense replies I can send him before he gives up.

    HA HA HA!!

    Reply
  5. Our small company received the same exact emails (1st two), when I decided to look this up on the internet. We never take credit cards from foreign countries anyway. However, the items she requested pricing for were too vague (that was our red flag). Thanks for posting this to help others.

    Reply
  6. I have recently been approached by Luda Johnson too. She wants to buy shirts from my business. She is waiting a reply from me and I wonder if there is anything I can do to help catch the these scammers!

    Reply
  7. PARVATI DEVI says:

    I MEANT TO SAY WHY ARE THEY NOT BEING ARRESTED AND PUT INTO JAIL WHERE THEY BELONG??? OR GIVEN A HEFTY FINE AT THE VERY LEAST. CRAZY WORLD WE LIVE IN. SO MUCH GREED AND DECEPTION.

    Reply
  8. PARVATI DEVI says:

    YES, I ALSO RECEIVED THEIR FIRST INVITATION…FELT IT WAS NOT REAL. FOUND OUT IT WAS SCAM BY CHECKING ON INTERNET AND FINDING THIS AND OTHER SITES ABOUT IT.

    WHY ARE THESE FRAUDULENT PEOPLE BEING ARRESTED AND PUT IN JAIL WHERE THEY BELONG???

    Reply
  9. Thanks for the post! I received the same scam and wasted my time having filmmakers send in stock to be sold. Big red flags went up when we got to the part, “you pay the courier”.

    Thanks for the confirmation!

    Reply

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