Internet Scams and Fraud

Fabrics.net has received many emails, operator assisted phone calls and orders from Lagos, Nigeria, asking if we ship products to Nigeria. Our usual answer is yes, we do ship overseas but only if purchasing by wire transfer, money order or cashier’s check, NOT credit cards.

Just a note of caution about wire transfers. We suggest that any company using this method of payment establish a bank account that is not attached to any other account and also carries a balance of less than $5.00.

Recently, we received an order from an individual in Nigeria who, in addition to ordering fabric, also wanted us to include cell phones in their order. Of course we don’t sell phones or electronic equipment of any kind so we advised this individual that we only sell fabric. The order and shipping of the fabric came to around $3,500, which was to be sent to us in a cashier’s check. We did receive the check by FedEx from Nigeria but the check was for the amount of $10,000 USD written by a bank in Ohio. As per our usual practice, we researched the bank that issued the check on the Internet, and found that the FDIC had issued a warning regarding this bank and one other bank. Evidently, counterfeit cashier’s checks have been circulating since before June of 2003. Both banks have been handling this fraud for many months. For more information, see http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/SpecialAlert/2003/SA3303.html

After learning about the counterfeit cashier’s check, we contacted our local FBI who then sent us on to the Secret Service who is handling all cases of this type of fraud. The Secret Service first asked if we had sent the product but since we hadn’t, advised us to shred the check and not do business with any company or individual from Nigeria.

The individual from Nigeria then emailed us to request that we cash the check, apologized for the check being over the amount of the purchase and requested that we wire transfer the balance of around $6,500 to them in Nigeria. We were also requested to ship the fabric and send them an email with the tracking number.

We then copied all email correspondence, the check, the FedEx envelope that had cleared customs and mailed it all to the bank as requested by their customer representative.

This type of fraud is not limited to Nigeria. It is coming from all over the world including the United States. Hopefully our experience will forewarn all businesses who receive this type of email and orders over the Internet.

Although much can be said about the dangers of the Internet and doing business with companies on the Internet, it is well worth being a part of the internet business community. Information on fraud and scams can be found all over the internet. Be careful and do your research.
By Judith

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