Monday, October 26, 2009

BEWARE! Scam Artist Targets etsy Quilt Sellers

Several quiltsy members have asked about convos received recently that feel 'fishy.' Working within the rules of etsy's TOS it is difficult to discuss specifics, and typically the short answer is "it's a scam...report it to abuse@etsy." Since this crook or group of crooks seems to be specifically targeting etsy quilters (because we sell larger ticket items), it is very important for us to completely understand this scam, but because of etsy rules, we can't discuss specifics on the etsy forums.

A member of my local team (Artisans of Houston), and fellow quilter Kim of http://alwaysquilting.etsy.com/ sent the following email to the Houston group about the scam. She has graciously given permission to share it with Quiltsy. You might say she's given emphatic permission: "Absolutely please share! It is my mission to put the crooks out of business. They make me crazy - or crazier or something like that."

Please read Kim's message and better educate yourself to protect your business. ~Robin

* * * *

Good morning everyone. I just wanted to share this convo I received from Etsy this morning. It is most definately an attempt at fraud. I don't really know most of you since I joined the Artisans of Houston group recently, but my day job is working as a cash manager at a major international real estate company. I work with banking all day every day and we have had to deal with variations on this scheme for about the last 4 years.

This convo I received this morning is evidently the next new twist. Please read:
______________________________________________________
Referenced item - English Trellis, listing #17343081
by [INSERT Scammer's screen name]

I am interested in the immediate purchase of your item and will be make payment via cashier check/money order, my private shipping company will handle the shipping, but before payment will be made i need to be sure of who i am dealing with if you are going to be honest and sincere throughout the transaction. A certified cashiers check is cash-able the same day,there is going to be an excess fund on the check ,the excess fund is meant for the private shipping company who will come to your place for pick up of the item, so shipping is not a problem,will you be able to transfer the excess fund to the shipping company the same day you receive the check?. check would be sent to you so when you get payment you can easily cash it at any cashing point near you or deposit in your bank. You'll be sending excess fund to my shipper , which would be meant for shipping arrangement.if you agree, signify your interest by forwarding to me your Final Asking Price, Full Name & Contact Address and Tel # also i will want you to email to my private email address [INSERT Scammer's screen name]3 [!at] rocketmail.com because i had some bad network with my acct in Etsy.com,So plz kindly email me to my email address I await your response soonest.Best and kind regards,
25 October 2009 4:00am EDT
____________________________________________________

This person has stolen someone's checking account information and is printing checks on it.

I would most likely receive the "certified cashiers check" by fedex sent by a 3rd party who is someone who has responded to a "make money by working at home on your computer" offers. They don't even know what it is they are sending checks out for and that they are fraudulent.

Most likely this check would be for about $2500 (for a $300 quilt!). "[Screen name]" requires that I send the excess the same day I receive the check.
Here is what actually happens:
I take the check to my bank, the bank may call the bank the check is written on or may not. If they call to verify the account, the bank says yes the account exists (because "[Screen name]" stole good bank account information) and they deposit the check into my account. I ask my bank to send the excess amount to the "shipper's" account information that "[Screen name]" sends.

A couple of days later, the check will be returned to my account and (since I don't have a couple of extra thousand in the bank) my account will be overdrawn costing me not only the money I sent to "[Screen name]" , but lots of fees, other checks bouncing, more fees, etc. The bank will not be at a loss, the company listed on the check will not be at a loss, the company who's account "[Screen name]" stole will not be at a loss. It will only be me. And "[Screen name]" with have the "excess" that I sent him.

I will then spend lots of time trying to track "[Screen name]" down (he will be in the wind), filing police reports to police that can't do anything because my one amount is too small to do anything about.Here are some hints that struck me right off the bat:--If you read this carefully, some of the words don't sound quite right. This may be someone that does not speak English well and tries to make it sound very business-like and misses.

--"[Screen name]" picked the most expensive item in my shop but didn't ask any questions about or comment on it in any way.--who needs an outside shipper to ship a quilt??--there isn't really such a thing as a certified cashier's check.

Yes you can have the bank certify a check, but it doesn't really mean anything but there was money in an account when the check was issued. "[Screen name]" can print that on a check just as easy as anything else.--when I clicked on his profile on etsy, I got an error that this person does not have a profile. Probably deleted as soon as he sent lots of convos in the middle of the night.--he doesn't want me to contact him the way he contacted me and he has a specific reason why.
That's because he doesn't want Etsy or any company that might be able to track him down or track how many of their shops are affected by this to know about him (they'll know shortly - I'm going to contact them as soon as I'm done here)

Like I said, I've been dealing with this at work for several years now, and I've heard lots of sob stories from people who have been taken by these folks. Smart people fall for this!
People are having hard times and they want to think they can trust people, but this is one you can't!

Unfortunately, these crooks are smart enough to keep their amounts small enough to make it not worth the police's, FBI's, Secret Service's time to track them down. We have tried to make them realize the amount they add up to, but since one person or company is only out small amounts of cash (they don't count the business costs from having to deal with this), they can't allocate personel to it. We are currently working with our congress people to get the laws to catch up with this type of fraud, but it isn't high profile enough for them to pay attention to it.

I'll get down off my soapbox now and let you enjoy this beautiful day. Please don't let this crook take advantage of you!!!
Kim

11 comments:

Pam S. Cole said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this very useful info!

Seville83 said...

It is sad that people seem to forget that these kinds of things happen. Thank you for the reminder tho

Mountain Home Quilts said...

Yep, I got one of those. A quick, "Sorry, I only accept PayPal" convo shut them up pretty quick! :)

Sewinggranny - Mona said...

Thanks for sharing and I hope all sellers recognize this as a scam as quickly as you did! The more we tell the less likely they will get away with this kind of shady dealings!!!

kymidiva said...

gotta love the typos and grammatical errors, too. that's a dead giveaway for me when i see those emails.

thanks for the info!

Caron said...

Someone did that to me when I posted my piano for sale a few years ago on CraigsList.com. It was priced at $1500, and they had almost the same wording as your post. Crazy people!

Caron @ BrooksideCreations.com

Ellen said...

I also recently nearly had this happen to me with a high end item I'm trying to sell online (not on etsy). I caught all the red flags so was not a victim. So sorry to hear that they are striking on etsy now. Thanks for sharing.

wolph33 said...

I got those to.How stupid do they think we are???

fabricartist21 said...

Do they think we are all that dumb?? WOW It is so easy to keep it simple and say only Pay Pal or money orders, right?? than is the way I go and did that when I was on e-bay also and now I do the same thing on ETSY!!

marymcnultydesign said...

My friend has a shop on Etsy and called me today about a transaction she thought was weird. Low and behold it is almost exactly word for word what you posted. Too many red flags, part of us wants to go for it because we want to make the sale (as you said it is a large item) and the other part of our conscious is saying wait a minute something is wrong. I am so glad my friend did not get caught up into it. Thank you for posting this, it was meant for me to be up late catching up on my Etsy reading.

doris finch said...

The scam is still alive and well, 7/31/10. At least two SAQA members [I'm one] received a similar message. If it looks like a skunk, walks like a skunk and smell like a skunk, it is not a gardenia.