Cybercrime – Was PT Barnum Right?

Cybercrime is rampant – but was P.T. Barnum right when he reputedly said there was a sucker born every minute?  I see examples of attempts at tricking people out of their information and merchandise cross my desk and screen every day.  These cyber criminals are crafty and tricky.  You get to really believe that they are whom they say they are – and comply with their requests.   Only to ~  a few minutes later realize it was a trick.  Then you scramble to try and cut your losses, if at all possible.

I have inner radar for such things – and am thankful for it, not everyone does.  I know that while I may have missed one or two opportunities in my lifetime, I am sure that I have saved myself from thousands.  Thousands you say…. and yes, I mean thousands.   Each and every day in my email or by phone, there are at least 10 different scam attempts.  For me erring on the side of caution is much better than the alternative. Listen or read very carefully – there is usually a tip-off in their communication.

The current new one, hitting my email box is that a company in England, Wales, Austrailia, Germany (pick one) wants to buy our  products for their stores,  but they can only pay by credit card.  This used to be the ideal situation with a sales and subsequent the payment (immediately) by credit card, but it has turned into one of the nastiest schemes of all.   Once they evaluate the products  (or you fall for this) they promise to stock all their stores worldwide with your products.  Here’s the tip off in this one for me — they have to pay by credit card, and if you don’t accept credit cards, please don’t reply.   First, there aren’t many businesses that can’t accept a credit card as payment — but it tells me that they don’t have any other way to pay.  We can verify addresses to anyone in the US (to see we are shipping to the correct address that is associated with the credit card) but that is not possible to do internationally.  You will lose the product, the shipping costs, the money and any fees associated with the charge by your processor if you fall for this one.

To give you a clue on some red flags in these requests that might help you avoid these scams:

New Customer – while it’s a great thing to have a new customer – no one is coming back to scam you twice.

Product – product requested is not something you regularly sell, or isn’t identified at all in their email

Overnight Shipping – this you will eventually pay for, and they will have it fast, so they can disappear with the product.

Email Information –  use of a  generic email address, they don’t put in their name, the company name, the company address,  a phone number, or any other information that might help you determine if they are legitimate.  And please, don’t be afraid to check all of that out to make sure it’s authentic.  If I really work for XYZ company, an email would more likely be johnsmith at, then johnsmith at – and if in doubt, check it out.

Funky Shipping Address – with a new customer who might be a scammer —  check the address to see where it actually exists.  I have found (and I thank google street views for this) empty parking lots, abandoned houses, and although it’s supposed to be someone’s worldwide headquarters, any number of other things which don’t give you the warm fuzzies (like a trailer, a restaurant, a rest stop, a gas station, etc).

Must Pay by Credit Card – it’s a very different story if they tell you this, or you tell them.  At my company we must have the billing address of the credit card and if they are new, we insist it ship to that address.  We will ask for phone number and we will call them back to make sure they are at the other end of the number they give us.  While some scammers know the address the credit card belongs to, they almost always will try and have it shipped somewhere else or try to avoid answering altogether.   We once had a shipment they wanted delivered  to the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas – they just gave us an address – we looked it up and found out this was where they were sending it, which did not make sense.  Obviously they might have a “inside” person at the shipping company who KNOWS it’s theirs, or at the Imperial Palace Receiving Dept., or they just wait outside for it – not completely sure, because of course we never took the order.

Cannot Verify Identity – when we are unsure of someone, we ask they fax us a copy of their credit card (both sides) and legal picture ID (such as driving license) which match.   When they hesitate, or they won’t, we don’t ship.

Don’t be a victim of cybercrime – remember the choice is yours – sucker or not?

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