Scammers Targeting Small Businesses

Scammer #1
A man named “Ed” wanted a landscaping quote for a paver driveway. He contacted a business by phone and said he would text the address, so that they could go out to the property and provide a free quote.

The homeowner tells the business that he wasn’t going to be at the property, but instead provided pictures of sample pavers that he wanted to use. He then asks the business to send the quote by email. The business sends over the quote (over $40k) and the “homeowner” says he wants to book them for the job.

When the business discusses the contract and deposit that was needed before they could start the work, the scammer says that he was out of town and having treatment for lung cancer. He requested to pay the deposit remotely. The business informs the scammer that he could email everything and pay using PayPal or through their accounting services invoicing.

“Ed” tells the business that he had filed disuptes with both PayPal and Square, so his account was locked. He then asks the business for the name of their bank or if they had a credit card terminal that they could manually enter the credit card information, which thankfully they declined to give out.

You can probably sense where this is going. But keep reading, because it gets better.

Scammer #2
The same night, the exact same business is finalizing a second quote for “Ronald” who also lives in the area. This guy gives the business his address, so that they can go over and look at the property and provide a quote. The quote comes back at $13,000 worth of landscaping.

When the business calls the scammer, he answered the phone and says he got held up at work. But, he wants to proceed with the work. When the business tries to setup a meeting to sign the contract “Ronald” says he is out of town due to his wife being sick with “lung cancer.” He also requests the contract be emailed. And also says he has been locked out of his PayPal account.

These red flags prompted the business to look up the addresses online. And sure enough, both properties were listed for sale on the MLS website. Neither had been purchased and neither were in contract. So the business contacted the listing agents on both properties only to find out that neither “Ed” or “Ronald” were the owners of the properties.

This is reminder to never give out your bank information to anyone. Screen potential clients as carefully as possible and pay attention to your sixth sense. If something seems off, it probably is.

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