A reader: I own a local business and I received an email for a quote on some windows to be installed. I emailed back to set an appointment to come out to get measurements.
The customer emailed back telling me that any time would be fine, but that he could not be at the appointment because he was out of town.
I went out and took measurements at the empty house and I emailed the quote to the customer. Then I received this email that just didn’t seem right, here it is:
“i am ok with your quotation, I will like to make a deposit of $5000 for job to start...property key is with the initial owner, so i will need a little favor on that... The favor is that I have not pay the remaining balance and I can’t do that my self bcos I am presently receiving my surgery treatment...so the initial owner do not have access to credit card facility that is why i want you to handle everything for me, so i will give you my card info to put thru for sum of $11200 and you will be holding $5000 as deposit of the work need to be done. Then you will have $6000 send to the initial owner via money gram or bank deposit to the initial and $100 tip for you and $100 for the moneygram fee...”
I have not gone any further with this one but wanted your insight. What do you think?
Action Line: The first red flag is the improper grammar and punctuation. If you are selling something to a “customer,” never accept payment for more than the amount of the purchase, no matter how tempting it may be or how sympathetic you are to their story. If the buyer refuses to pay the exact amount, do not send any money to anyone.
The absence of the customer at an “empty house” is also suspect. You may want to check with your local county hall of records to make sure the owner of the property you have measured is really looking to have new windows installed. The house may be a rental or in foreclosure. My bet is that the “customer” and the owner of the house do not know one another.
And the biggest red flag, why would this “customer” want to install windows on a house that they do not own? If the card is fraudulent, the payment will not be made to you. If you pay the “initial owner” you could be out that money.
We have seen these types of offers with fake checks, stolen credit cards, and wire transfers. If you receive an offer like this, we suggest that you report it to:
▪ The Federal Trade Commission, at www.ftc.gov
And remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.