According to complainants, consultants are contacted by an individual via email asking to purchase products and the parties engage in an email back and forth about the products and purchasing procedures. Sometimes it is a straight request for products and other times, they indicate their own sales representative is not available.
An example email that a Thirty-One consultant received from two different senders is below. Consultants should note the punctuation errors and awkward grammar which is a typical red flag in scam emails:
“I want to order some 31 gifts products with your assistance,I found your Contact email address from the thirtyonegifts website .I was made to understand that I could order some of these products through a consultant without using a credit card.Let me know other forms of payment aside credit card so that I can send you my list.
The process of ordering progresses in a typical fashion, until the “consumer”
An example of one urgent situation:
“…there is a little bit of problem or mixed up.I am currently attending a Christian Conference right now and I instructed one of my Clients to facilitate the payment to your address. The Problem is that I just read a mail from my Debtor's new secretary that she sent out the whole amount she owed me to you instead of her to send you the exact amount of the items I ordered from you… Please consider this a favor that I want you to do for me right now because I sensed you have integrity to maintain. Please once you receive the check, deduct the amount for the items and help me send the remaining balance to my daughter's event planner. She would need it for her wedding logistics and preparations…
In this instance, when the consultant did not immediately cash the check and wire the money back, the “purchaser”
Until a financial institution can confirm the funds have been “finally collected”, the consultant is responsible for any funds they may withdraw against that check deposit. The amount of time it can take for the bank to finally collect the money can vary, particularly with out-of-state or out-of-country checks.
“Our independent sales consultants have been approached by these email scammers before,” said Sara West, senior manager of public relations at Thirty-One Gifts. “As part of their sales support and training, we have provided instructions to them that match the information provided by the Better Business Bureau. We suggest they do not attempt to cash the check or fulfill any product orders, and notify the FBI or Internet Crime Complaint Center.”
BBB Tips for home sales consultants accepting checks as payment:
· Be leery of checks received from unknown individuals and those contacting the consultant independently of a scheduled party.
· Do not accept a check for more than the merchandise costs.
· Never agree to cash a check and return money to an unknown purchaser regardless of the hardship they are reportedly experiencing.
· Do not wire money to anyone you do not know. Wired money is extremely difficult to trace and you will not be able to recover these funds.
· Independently verify that any check is drawn from an actual account at a legitimate financial institution. Do not rely on the telephone number listed on the check. Use directory assistance to get the telephone number of the financial institution and call them to verify the check.
· Once you deposit a check, do not rely on the money until the funds have been finally collected by your financial institution. “Funds available” is not good enough.
· If you have any questions about whether a transaction is legitimate, or if funds have been finally collected, talk to your bank or credit union.
· Those who have been victimized by a phony check drawn on a federally insured financial institution should phone the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation at 877-275-3342. If the check is drawn on a foreign bank, contact the United States Secret Service at 202-406-5572 or go to www.secretservice.gov or contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at their website, www.IC3.gov.
About The Better Business Bureau Serving Detroit & Eastern Michigan
The Better Business Bureau Serving Detroit & Eastern Michigan (http://detroit.bbb.org/