Monday, March 30, 2015

I Thought I was Too Savvy To Get Scammed

I pride myself on being pretty savvy. Hey, I grew up in New York City, went to college at 16 and have traveled the world. I thought I could see through all the ruses but here I am, shamefacedly confessing to the fact that I got scammed. I’m telling this story in hopes it will save some of my fellow small business owners from falling prey.

I got an email from a gentleman from Singapore who asked if my business took Credit Cards. There were three specific products he wanted produced in bulk. The order totaled over 100 pieces. It all sounded legit; particularly because of the specificity of his order. However, I called Square, who processes my Credit Card transactions and asked about any precautions I should take before putting this order through. I was told to just make sure my account was Credited with the funds and as long as they notified me that the funds were in my account, there should not be any problem. Sadly, that was not the case.

I worked for two weeks to fill the order. I had already been paid upfront. Still, there was a nagging anxiety about the transaction.

The customer wanted to use his own shipper, as he claimed he had problems, particularly exorbitant custom fees with traditional carriers. Since he had already forwarded me the expedited shipping fees, I thought: “no problem with sending the shipper the money I had already received from the customer.

Now, the nagging anxiety becomes a major sinking feeling of “Oh no…this is not happening.” This realization came after an email from “the shipper” informed me that the owner of his company was in a car accident and their business was on hold; therefore, they would not be picking the merchandise up. That’s when I was sure the jig was up. About three weeks later, I received a message from Square, that due to a disputed charge, and the next day, although they asked for documentation regarding the dispute from my end…the entire sum of my order was removed by Square from my checking account.

Although I provided documentation of the order to Square, and offered to send additional materials if required, they told me that while I was welcome to do so in just about 100% of these types of cases, the vendor never received their monies back. I conceded defeat, knowing that I didn’t stand a chance.
Lessons learned: Get references on any new customers making large orders. Never, ever, ever pay for shipping with a money order even if you have been forwarded funds to do so. And lastly, do research on the company you are dealing with. I think that small businesses like mine can be so enamored of what they think might be their “big break” that ones usual discerning judgment can go awry. It did with me. And hopefully, sharing this story will prevent it from happening to you.

Roberta - RG Clay Creations Inc.


Sue DiGilio said...

Thank you for sharing this. We do have a false sense of security don't we? I had a similar issue with a check a few years back after waiting the 7 to 10 business days and assuming that all was well, out came the money never to be seen again.

HuzzahHandmade said...

So sorry this happened. I am always suspicious of inquiries from that part of the world.

SO Handmade said...

Wow these guys are just too clever! so sorry you were left out of pocket. How much did you lose to the fake shipper? Its great to share to make sure others aren't taken advantage of in the same way.

Jody said...

Grrr... It makes me so mad that these jerks are picking on artists.