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The Floor Mat Scam

Posted on Thursday, July 26, 2018 in Small Business Today Articles

We recently got a different minivan.  When we traded the old one in, we requested that we keep the all-weather floor mats, with the hope that they would fit our new one.  Unfortunately they did not fit and we decided to sell them by advertising them on the Ankeny Community Swap & Meet Site on Facebook.  Several days went by with no response.  Then we received a response from someone who was interested!

Following their request, we sent an email telling Jane Doe that we received the message from her husband, and suggesting that they contact us on a cell phone for more information or to set up a time to see the floor mats in person.  Two days later we received the following response via email:

“Sorry for the late respond,am very busy women I've been working really long weeks at work. So i wont be able to meet with you but am ok with the price and condition as shown on the advert, I'll proceed in a Cashier Check/ Certified Check drawn from a local Banks to you and when you receive the payment and it clears, I will make arrangement for pickup. So get back to me with below details asap.

Price:  ;Name:to be on the check  ; Full Physical Address: Not P.O.BOX ; City: State: Postal Code: Phone Number: That i can send text

And as soon as this is provided, the payment will be overnight to you and i will let you know when its mailed out.  Thanks and i hope we handle this in good faith while waiting to hear from you. i will add an additional $50 so that

you can hold it for me till the check reach you”

It was obvious to me that she was a very busy woman because she didn’t have time to use correct grammar or punctuation, and she forgot that we included our phone number in the last email we sent.  I was also very interested in the extra $50.

If we are going to be successful as small business owners and managers we have to conduct business through email and over the internet.  Sometimes that is how we collect prospective customers and make sales, and we can see a lot of success through the internet.  However, we have found that because of the easy anonymity of the internet, there are people all over the world who are looking to take advantage of the unsuspecting.  It is very important that you have a thorough process to determine if the people on the other end of the internet are real customers or just pretending to be a customer so that they can take advantage of you.

At the bank our IT department goes to great lengths to help us learn to detect fake or potentially destructive emails.  The email from Jane Doe had several telltale signs including; bad grammar, broken English and the kicker, extra money for us doing nothing.  In our case, the extra money was almost as much as we were asking for the floor mats!  Unfortunately I have seen several customers at the bank fall for similar scams, so I beg you to be wary and cautious of anything that seems too good to be true, or people who need “help” and cash immediately.

I sent an email reply to Jane Doe telling her that the mats were a cash only sale and that she should respond soon because there were others interested in the mats.  Counterfeit cashier’s checks are now a common form of fraud, so do not automatically assume they are legit.  So far no response from Jane Doe, and I expect I will not get one.

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