Most of this information has been provided by the FBI but I intend to add my own Cautions and Beware of's at the end for both your personal and import export business.
Let me begin by CAUTIONING you - Cashier's Checks or Bank Drafts can and are often fakes - so do not believe for one minute that just because they tell you it is a Cashier's check or bank draft that it is safe to ship your item or import export merchandise.
If you can answer "YES" to any of the following questions, you could be involved in a FRAUD or you are about to be SCAMMED!
1. Is the CHECK you received for an item you sold on the Internet, such as a car, boat or jewelry, etc?
Ron Coble Note: (RC Note) Checks can take up to 21 days or more to clear USA based banks and up to 30 days or more if drawn on a foreign bank. With full color printers it is very easy to fake a check to appear like it is legitimate and it could take 30, 60 or even 90 days for a check to bounce back from a foreign bank. Do NOT ship any merchandise until you know funds are secure and I personally "would not" accept a check from out of the country as payment for anything.
2. Is the amount of the CHECK more than the item's selling price?
RC Note: This is a very common scam but not one that many people are aware of. The scammers prey upon the kindness of people to help 'them' get more US cash back into their country by using this method by telling them how difficult it is to do this otherwise. They are also always willing to pay you the full asking price for the item you are selling with no negotiation - clear sign this is a fraud/scam.
3. Did you receive the CHECK via an overnight delivery service?
RC Note: This is a method to try and close the scam/fraud as quickly as possible and to also impress you on how they are true business persons by using overnight delivery.
4. Is the CHECK connected to your communications with someone by email?
RC Note: Remember on the Internet that anyone can pretend to be anyone and thousands of web sites offer free email accounts. Always beware of someone who is using a free email account as their sole email communications when it comes to any import export business or personal financial transaction.
5. Is the CHECK drawn on a business or individual account that is different from the person buying your item or import export products?
RC Note: The buyer could be using stolen checking account information and the other part of the scam sometimes involves an actual person residing in the USA who delivers the check making the scam look even more legitimate.
6. Have you been informed that you were a winner of a LOTTERY, such as Canadian, Australia, El Gordo, or El Mundo, that you did not enter?
RC Note: Use a little common sense here my friends, it's time to wake up from watching too many (un)reality shows and dreaming of a generous millionaire/billionaire coming to your door with a check.
7. Have you been instructed to either 'WIRE', 'SEND' OR 'SHIP' MONEY, as soon as possible, to a large U.S. city or to another country, such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?
RC Note: This refers back to my note above about the scamsters having accomplices living here in the USA. I am going to repeat myself here many time, please forgive me, but please USE YOUR COMMON GOD GIVEN SENSE and UNDERSTAND that IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE - IT IS!
8. Have you been asked to PAY money to receive a deposit from another country such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?
RC Note: This scam has been going on for almost all of the 18 years I have been in the import export business, yet each year I read about some trusting soul who did not USE THEIR COMMON SENSE who falls for this scam.
They used to do this by registered letters. I don't know how many wasted trips I made to the Post Office to sign for a registered letter that was from one of these scamsters. Many of them could be accomplished authors if they tried since they write these compelling stories about their husband, father, uncle etc. who was part of their countries government and how he was brutally killed and now their relatives need "you" to help them get the money out of their country.
There are 1000 different stories, they used to only come from Nigeria, then they began coming from all areas of the world. They went from registered letters to sending fax messages and then the goldmine of fraud came along - Email - free easy, they can now blanket the world with their net and it costs them nothing to lure in some poor unsuspecting person who simply got overwhelmed with the prospect of instant, no hard work wealth. Please, don't let it happen to you.
9. Are you receiving or being offered to receive PAY or COMMISSION for facilitating money transfers through your account?
RC Note: First, giving out your account information to 'anyone' is very, very dangerous. Once a person has your bank account information to 'supposedly' put money into your account, guess what, they can take money OUT of your account.
10. Did you respond to an email requesting you to CONFIRM, UPDATE OR PROVIDE your account information?
RC Note: Even I, after all my advice to everyone else, fell for one of these fake emails supposedly about our Ebay account. It caught me off my usual guard. It was early one morning, I was not quite awake yet and the email appeared to be legitimate, had eBay's logo, everything appeared normal. I clicked on the link and logged in. Luckily I had that gut wrenching and sinking feeling immediately upon doing so that I had just been had.
I immediately went to eBay's site by typing it into my browser window and logged in and changed our password to a 15 letter/digit one and prevented any further problems.
I did learn later however, that by clicking on the link in that email, I may have planted a spyware program on my computer which could record every keyboard click (including my passwords, userids, account numbers, etc.) and send that info back to the scamster who planted it there. Using a free spyware recommended by Cnet's Download web site, I cleaned up my computer from any possibility of this. Here is a link to Cnet's site you can copy and paste into your browser window:
MY PERSONAL FRAUD-SCAM PREVENTION REMARKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Now much of what you will read on the Internet is written by paid writers, who in most instances have little or no actual experience or life experience with their subject matter. They write based on research they do into the subject and usually their writing is lacking in real life experience.
When it comes to Fraud and Scams, the comments I have already provided and am about to provide are from my personal experiences and only represent a SMALL fraction of those experiences.
Let me begin by stating in the last 5 years, our small business has experienced an explosion of fraudulent orders. I personally stopped my tally when we went over $100,000.
It has become so bad now that we receive 5 times as many fraudulent orders as we receive legitimate ones. It is probably much higher than that. I will not get into all the details here that help us identify these fraud orders, but will cover most of them in later posts.
The most important issue for me to cover in this post regards how vulnerable you are to fraud and how you can help 'possibly' prevent 'some' of it from happening to you in your import export business or personal life.
This post is getting too long and I am getting tired. I will revisit this subject in my next post with even more information specific to you and your import export business. Stay tuned and keep checking back for the next post.
Coble International Marketing Services
Import Export Business Help Center