Everyone loves getting a new lead through their website – but you’ve got to be careful who you trust. We have learned of a new shipping company scam that’s hitting b2b companies – a scam involving fake foreign companies, phony shippers and increasingly tech savvy swindlers.

Here’s how the latest one works:

  1. A company receives an unsolicited order for shipment to a foreign address
  2. The order is placed using a recently stolen credit card number, so when the payment goes through everything seems OK
  3. The customer then says they would like the product shipped using a foreign shipping company that requires payment via Western Union (which they cover using the stolen credit card number)
  4. The company ships the product (which is never picked up), then learns the payment was fraudulent
  5. Meanwhile, the scammer has picked up the shipping payment from a Western Union office and the company must begin the arduous process of trying to get its money back

Even if the company can recover some of the lost funds (chances are you won’t), the company will never recover the lost product or time its sales staff put in on the transaction.

In one case we have seen, the scammers set up a fake website to make the transaction seem legit. However, the devil is in the details. On this particular website, the scammers copied text from an existing John Deere website to beef up its “About Us” section.

Here’s a few tips to avoid falling victim to this latest scam:

  1. Research new customers – especially foreign customers. For the most part, these unsolicited orders are riddled with broken English and usually come from Gmail or Hotmail accounts.
  2. As we mentioned before, some scammers are setting up fake websites. In business since 1996? Seems legit. Don’t trust it. Do a WhoIs search (https://www.whois.net/) on the url. If it was registered recently or happens to be registered in Africa raise an eyebrow, then a red flag.
  3. Do not use the shipping company of their choosing. FedEx, UPS and other companies ship everywhere! If the customer insists on a using a shipping company that you don’t usually work with, DON’T DO IT!
  4. Verify the transaction. Verify the name, billing address, shipping info and CC security code with the bank. Also, hold off on shipment for at least 30 days. That should help if it gets charged back.