Internet Scam Artists Ordering Handmade Items – Beware
by Janine Gerade and Rena Klingenberg.
Internet scam artists are targeting handmade sellers and other small businesses – and here’s one way it can happen.
Jewelry artist Janine Gerade received an email from someone who seemed to be a potential customer. The message said,
My Name is Lawrence Peels I am a Clayer by profession located in Coventry UK.regarding your advert on polymer clay work you have for sale. i want to inquire in purchasing some as i need details on them..
Please let me know these details below as follows
— The picture of the polymer clay work for sale
— the location of the polymer clay for pick up
Do have a wonderful day ahead as i hope to hear from you soonest.
Janine sent an email reply to this supposed customer, including her website URL so he could see photos of her work. She mentioned her shipping charges from the U.S. – and also asked how he had found her email address.
But when he answered, he ignored Janine’s question about how he’d found her email address, and listed an order for 55 of her items:
Thanks for your prompt response towards my inquiries.i have seen the pictures of your polymer clay jewelry on your website
I will like to have these polymer clay jewelry as follows:
5 sets of Polymer Clay Feather Pendant Necklace
5 sets of Crackled Stone Double Strand Necklace
5 sets of Champagne And Rose Pearl Set
5 sets of Pearl Grape Cluster Earrings
5 sets of Markasite Drop Earrings
5 sets of Leafy Beaded Earrings
5 sets of Green And Blue Stitched Earrings
5 sets of Natural Landscapes Polymer Bracelet
5 sets of Mixed Bead Whimsical Bracelet
5 sets of Hot Fiesta Party
5 sets of Ice Fiesta
Please do get back to me with total cost for these polymer clay jewelry then i can have my shipper come for the pick up..
Hear you soon.
Deciding Whether an Order
Janine says, “He ordered well over $4500 worth of jewelry and about two months’ worth of work. I knew off the bat it was too good to be true.”
She adds, “Anyone who was really interested would have more contact information, proper spelling and a reason for purchasing that amount of jewelry (such as a new store opening in England for international imports, or a gallery).”
Also, internet scam artists typically place an order that’s big enough to be exciting to you, and then urge you to complete the transaction in a hurry – before you can have second thoughts or do any security verification.
In fact, three of the most common features of orders placed by these internet scam artists are:
- Orders involving multiple quantities of the same item (Janine’s “customer” ordered 5 of everything).
- A request for urgent or next-day shipping or pickup (her customer urged, “please do get back to me with total cost … then i can have my shipper come for the pick up”).
- Lots of misspelled words, poor grammar, and incorrect punctuation and capitalization (as her customer had).
The Scam Often Works in
One of These Ways:
- Scammers use stolen credit cards, fake money orders, or fraudulent wire transfers to purchase your items, and then pressure you to ship everything quickly (before the fraud is discovered). The scammers then sell your items as soon as they receive them.
- Or scammers have some excuse to over-pay for the purchase – and then ask you to reimburse them for the extra amount they paid. Then their payment doesn’t go through, and you’re scammed out of the amount of money you reimbursed them.
- Or scammers place an order for your items, and then ask you to purchase a big-ticket item (such as a TV or computer) and ship it to them, along with the items they ordered from you. They use a fraudulent credit card or money order to pay you for everything – and they get the big-ticket item and your handmade merchandise for free.
We decided to do a quick Google search for the person who emailed this huge (and suspicious) jewelry order to Janine.
A search for “Lawrence Peels” Coventry brought up this discussion about him on the Alpaca Nation forum (an information resource for the alpaca industry).
It turns out that several of the Alpaca forum members had received an almost identical email from him, and all of them took it as spam or some sort of fraudulent order.
Also in the Alpaca Nation discussion about Lawrence Peels, the original poster mentions that Peels said he was a “farmer” (while in his message to Janine he said he was a “clayer by profession”).
So you may turn up some helpful data by doing a search on Google or Bing for any of the information in suspicious orders.
Strategy: Try searching for the customer’s name or for a phrase from their message, to see whether other people are discussing this customer’s orders or similarly worded scam emails.
Don’t Ship Until
You’ve Verified Everything
To protect your handmade business from internet scam artists, it’s important to stay aware and vigilant.
Make sure all orders (and payment) are legitimate before you fill them.
In Fraudulent Jewelry Orders Ryan Cheng lists easy steps for checking and verifying the online orders you receive, before you process them.
Also consider having some anti-fraud policies in place, and posting them on your website. For example:
- Orders must be shipped to the billing address.
- Money orders and checks must clear before products are shipped.
- Custom orders must be paid for in advance of beginning any work.
- There may be a delay in shipping while credit cards and mailing addresses are verified.
Does the Order Just
As always, listen to your intuition. Many people have an unsettling feeling that “something’s not quite right” when they receive a scammy order.
Janine says although she loved that her customer wanted a ton of her jewelry, she had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.
About a week after Janine received the fraudulent jewelry order discussed above, she got another suspicious email:
I am an American but I live and work here in Japan.I will like to place an order for some items from you, but I will like to know what you have available in stock.Let me have your website address so I can view the products you have presently in stock and if there is any special pricing I need to know about.Lastly regarding payment I will be sending you my credit card for the full payment charges for my order.In order to avoid any form of delays can you let me know the type of credit cards you accept? I hope to hear from you as soon as possible so we can proceed with the Order.
Janine says, “I see signs in this email such as not mentioning what they want to buy and mention of credit cards accepted. I only use Paypal which I feel is the safest way to make payments on the web.”
This message just doesn’t feel like a genuine order.
And like the previous scammer’s order, this one also contains warning signs:
- Urging Janine to rush things through without thinking – “in order to avoid any form of delays”.
- Wanting to place an order for jewelry he’s never even seen – “let me have your website address so I can view the products you have”.
- Claiming to be an American living in another country is a common ploy for using a stolen American credit card and having items shipped to a different country.
Stay vigilant for signs of internet scam artists, listen to your intuition – and don’t ship your jewelry until you’ve verified everything.
Many thanks to Janine Gerade of Janine’s Jewelry Design for sharing her experience regarding an order from an internet scam artist.
Thank you again!
by: Janine Gerade