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Protect Your Business From Email Scams this Festive Season

December 16, 2019

Protect Your Business From Email Scams this Festive Season

December 16, 2019

What is an eMail Scam?

An email scam is a method to lure users into disclosing their credit cards details, deposit or wire funds with the a promise for a great bargain or win, through email. Some scam messages ask for business, others invite victims to a website with a detailed pitch. Many individuals have lost their life savings due to this type of fraud which in not cases is convincing and enticing.

The Scam Process

An inquiry asking if you accept credit cards before discussing any project details.
This will be followed by a request for work on a rushed timeline.
The prospective customer will easily agree to terms and a budget.
They’ll offer to place a large deposit and then ask if they can transfer funds to you that are destined for a third party, maybe even a little extra for you to keep as a gift. Once you agree to the project, this new customer will want to pay you with a credit card very quickly.
After you transfer funds to the third party the original credit card payment will be charged back to you and all contact will be lost with the scammer.

A Classic Example Of an Email Scam In the Hospitality Industry.

“Kindly confirm if you’re able to offer 2 rooms (a room for 2 people). Do also be informed that I prefer to make a prepayment and I’m ONLY able to make payment with the use of my credit card. Please be informed that I also want you to help me charge another $4,800 to a travel agent who has issued my Family’s air flight ticket to your hotel. The $4,800 that will be sent to the agent is for the ticket fare for me and my family which will be deducted from my credit card.

The customer often suggests a large deposit on the booking, but insists on a rushed timeline. They do this because they’ll be paying you with a stolen credit card, and want to complete the scam before the card is reported as stolen or the unauthorised transaction is detected by the true owner of the credit card.

The prospective customer will claim they are ready to make a payment with a credit card so that work can begin immediately… but first, they ask you for a favor. This is where they involve a third party “service” (such as a travel agent, translator) who’s meant to help with the project.

The third party wants upfront payment before they can provide something critical to you. There’s usually a bonus attached to this favor — additional funds to pay the third party and then a bit extra for you, as a gift! (How nice!) It usually goes something like this:

“Also, I’m compensating you with the sum of $750 for the transfer fee and for your efforts. Please note that I would have given the travel agency my credit card for him to deduct the ticket funds but was told that he doesn’t have the facility to charge or debit credit cards, which is why I bring my vote of confidence in you and i wouldn’t want you to betray my trust. So I want you to transfer the funds to him ONLY after you have made the charges and the money charged has reflected in your account. Only then can you proceed to make the transfer to the agent via western union”

The prospective client will provide a reason why the third party can’t accept the payment directly. This could range from them not being set up to accept credit cards to them being tied up with a family emergency.

Once you process the credit card payment and receive the funds, the fraudsters will be asking you to quickly deliver the funds to the third party (usually by wire transfer). Now you can get to work on the project.

Unfortunately, you will now likely be looking at a loss, when the true holder of the credit card disputes the charge and you receive a chargeback

Preventing Scams.

Be sure to keep an eye out and look for these telltale signs that you may be dealing with a fraudster.

  1. New customers contact you via text and ask if you accept credit cards
  2. Emails from domains like outlook.com & fastmail.com and whatsapp
  3. Being asked to pay a third party by wire transfer e.g. Western Union.
  4. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes in communications.
  5. Failed payment attempts by the customer who then asks you to process for them

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