This scam is sophisticated, therefore, it is a little complicated, but the essence of it goes like this:
- The scammers set up fake websites with domain names that are almost identical to legitimate businesses or universities.
- They contact the target business with an order and request a 30 day credit, which they receive since the business or university they are posing as has good credit. Orders may include computer, medical or pharmaceutical equipment.
- They ask that the ordered items be shipped to a warehouse, self-storage facility or the residence of an online romance or work-from home victim.
- When the vendor bills the real institution for the shipment, and finds out they are the victims of a fraud, the order has been re-shipped overseas, out of reach of American law enforcement
The tie to online romance scams and work-at-home scams is important. Here is a way for the scammers to get free labor from other victims. Victims often agree to receive packages and then re-ship them to overseas addresses.
Online romance scams- Criminals, often living overseas, troll social media sites or chat rooms in their search for victims. They will claim to be Americans travelling or working abroad. Their most common targets are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, and/or disabled. The FBI notes however that every age group and demographic is at risk. The goal is to extract as much money from the victim as they can.
Some tell tale signs that you might be communicating with a romance scammer include:
- Tries to convince you to leave the dating website and to communicate via email or instant messaging.
- Professes instant feelings of love.
- Sends a photo that makes them look like they are a glamorous model or actor.
- Claims to be an American traveling or working overseas.
- Says that he/she is planning to visit you, but then has to cancel due to a tragic event.
- Asks for money for a variety of reasons, usually having to do with some sort of tragedy, bad luck, or financial setback.
For more information about online romance scams, go to:
Work-at-home scams- These are found everywhere offering easy money for seemingly easy tasks. A few tips to avoid these scams include:
- Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.
- Be wary when money is required up front for instructions or products.
- Do not give your personal information when first communicating with your prospective employer.
- Research legitimate work-at-home opportunities with the “Work-at-Home Sourcebook” or other resources at your local library.
- Ask lots of questions of your potential employers; legitimate companies will have answers.
For more information about work-at-home scams, go to:
Some indicators of purchase order fraud are:
- Incorrect domain names on websites, emails, and purchase orders.
- The shipping address on a purchase order is not the same as the business location. A delivery address that is a residence or a self-storage facility should raise red flags.
- Poorly written emails or other correspondence that contains grammatical errors that suggests the author is not fluent in English.
- Phone numbers that are not associated with the company or university. If you call the number, a live person does not answer.
- Orders for unusually large quantities of merchandise, with a request to ship priority or overnight.
If you are a victim of a purchase order scam, contact your local law enforcement agency and the FBI. Once the merchandise arrives overseas (often to Nigeria) it is gone. However, the FBI has had success in recovering merchandise if the fraud is discovered before it is shipped.
For more information about purchase order scams, go to: