When a Big Ecommerce Order Is Truly a Scam

The email query seems honest enough. A client wants to place an order; maybe she’s going to put a large order and would like to know if she can find a discount and speedy delivery. Butunfortunately, the order may be a scam.

Fraud is an important issue for retailers which most often happens when a buyer places an fraudulent online order through a stolen credit card. But retailers may also be the target of scams.

Often, the thieves will behave as a buyer with a question, and finally wind up asking you to cover a third party for picking up products or take odd wire transfers.

Essential Scam Indicators

Square, the payment solutions provider, offers its clients several tips for avoiding scams, beyond being careful to not process orders placed with compromised or stolen credit cards. These suggestions include the following.

  • “Never use a third party shipping service which you’re not knowledgeable about.”
  • “Never use part of a payment to cable or send cash to a third party advocated by the client.”
  • “Don’t split large orders into multiple tiny payments.”
  • “Always send to the exact same zip code as the credit card billing zip code.”
  • “Research your client and call to confirm and confirm the purchase.”
  • “If you suspect fraud, remain calm and let the customer know you can not accept the purchase.”

To this list one could add:

  • Be cautious of orders that are large;
  • Be cautious of overseas orders;
  • Poor grammar ought to concern you;
  • Prevent accepting payments through email.

The Glove Order

Here’s an example from an actual exchange between a”client” and a dutiful customer support representative. The dialog is paraphrased, but the punctuation and capitalization is in the original.

“Hello, my name is Danielle, I want to purchase (Gloves), send me a price list of those you inventory, and let me know if you accept credit card payments,” the brief email read.

“Good morning, Danielle,” wrote the client support representative. “Thank you for reaching out to us seeing gloves. You can order using a credit card from our site. Take care and let me know if you have any more questions.”

“Thank you for your responds. I checked on your site and I am interested in your products but am not comfortable placing orders online, what if I tell you what I am interested in will you send me a quotation through email? I will phone in to talk and make a payment directly to you. Thanks and God Bless, Danielle.”

“Danielle, we could do that, not an issue. But you know, there could be no difference between you placing the order online and putting it on the telephone with me. I will use exactly the same online checkout that you would. In actuality, using the site is much more secure than giving me a credit card through email or over the telephone. However, not a problem if you want me to place the order. Just let me know,” the customer service representative wrote.

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“Thank you for your email reply back to me. I am extremely interested in your product, I checked on your own site and I am considering the Kinco Unlined Deerskin Driver Gloves Big and the Heritage Performance Hg286 Cold Weather Glove x-large adult. I need 130 bits of the two gloves and this item will go be picked up from your place so please go ahead and send me an email with the quote with the whole cost of my purchase and tax so we can move from there.”

Following a short conversation with a supervisor the customer support representative responded. “Hi Danielle. I have a few questions concerning your purchase. We’ve got a few places which one will you pick up at. Are you going to be picking up this or a third party? What’s your time frame?”

“I will pick up in any of your locations,” Danielle wrote back.

“I’m sorry, I do not think we’ll have the ability to assist you with this purchase.”

Even though the shop might never know for sure that Danielle wasn’t a true buyer considering placing a $5,000 purchase, there were four signs that this was attempted fraud.

  • The order is big. Although it’s certainly possible for customers to place large orders, someone that wanted a total of 260 gloves could probably go directly to a wholesale distributor and save money.
  • The items ordered isn’t hard to resell. Gloves are rather generic items that could be readily resold individually or in bulk lots. And gloves aren’t easy to trace or monitor.
  • Picking up the arrangement is unusual. Most clients would much rather have you send a large order to them instead of needing to arrange for pick themselves up.
  • Poor grammar and punctuation. Even though there are certainly crooks everywhere, bad grammar or punctuation is not uncommon in email scams.

The Horse Feed Inquiry

This is another example from November of this past year. A man known as a store that’s part of a brick-and-click series asking about putting a large, overseas purchase. The store manager gave the prospective foreign customer contact information to the business’s ecommerce section, and after an exchange of pleasantries, he sent the following email.


Here are the list of things I want:

Equine Junior horse Feed

Quantity 100 BAGS

Equine Senior Horse Feed

Quantity 100 BAGS

Purina Horse Chow #200 Horse Feed

Quantity 100 BAGS

Purina Ultium Growth Horse Formula

Quantity 100 BAGS

Purina Omolene #200 Horse Feed

Quantity 100 BAGS

Delivery Address:

17 Hammer Strasse,

Basel-Stadt 4007


Concerning the transport, the likes of UPS, DHL and others consistently do not look after down the charges here. Charges like handling,customs and duties etc.. We’ve experienced such scenario before and I do not need to experience such thing ,you don’t have to worry about the stress involve and all documentations since I have a shipping company that have delivered to me in the past,I love their solutions so I want you to contact them in regards to the shipping.I will be happy if you contact this shipper [name removed] for your shipping quote.

They’ll look after everything such as handling, customs and duties,Tax, insurance and so on,also you’ll be responsible for payment to [the logistics firm ] then all costs so far as shipping, obligations, and insurance as well as the costs of the item ought to be sent to me at a proforma invoice to be paid in advance of dispatch.

Always send me the copy of email you send to them, pls email them with pick up address, shipping address and the weight of the order. Pls get back to me with the following as soon as you hear back from them.

cost of items.

shipping cost

All extra cost (transfer fee)

total cost

So I can send you my credit card details that you charge the complete cost from it and find the shipping charges settled, then my order could be sent out asap.”

The seller decided not to meet the order because:

  • The buyer wanted the seller to pay a third party;
  • The purchaser was ordering especially large amounts of resalable products;
  • The buyer desired overseas delivery;
  • The purchaser’s grammar and punctuation was away.

Afterwards the vendor looked up the shipping address provided. It wasn’t the type of place that could easily get 25,000 lbs of horse feed.

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