We are now getting used in Australia to the constant idea of scams coming from random calls to your phone from "Taxation Officers" warning you to pay money to avoid police arresting you, etc, etc. I consider myself very aware of those thieves and have learned to recognise them when they are targeting me personally but the last scam target my business and that is when I felt very vulnerable as I thought: "why if this email is received by a colleague that has not had the "training" that I had from coming from a country where you "sadly learned" to doubt people, words, promises, businesses, etc"; here is what happened:
I received a "normal" email from a prospect client looking to move some artwork from Spain to Australia, the emails reads:
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject:PICKUP AND DELIVERY SERVICES REQUIRED
Date:Thu, 26 Oct 2017 20:57:55 +0100
From:grace Michael <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is Grace Michael.Please,contact the shipping company regarding my personal effect antiques which comprises of a number of artworks and a few wall frames ,all in one crate weighing 420 LBS,with Dimensions:85"W x 55"H x 47"D that i need services for pickup,delivery and removal of debris services at my house once it arrives Australia from Spain.
Shipper: Taller de Arte Matiz
Shipper contact: Matiz Sebastiano
Shipper Email: email@example.com
Shipper Phone: +34 93 2200469
Advise closest Airport to you for pick up:
Do get back to me with your quote and mode of payment if you are able to handle the project.
I'm not pasting every email after that but basically I reply asking a few questions, confirming the pickup address, incoterms, etc, etc.
Grace or whatever her name is told me that she needed a quote for my services to arrange everything from arrival to final delivery to an address in Brisbane.
I checked the Shipper: it exist
I checked the delivery address: it exist
A few things raise some alarms as the dims where not metric and neither Spain or Australia work in imperial system, also the email address was a gmail address and in spanish it was missing a letter: firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com but my not paranoid brain was telling me to keep the communication going.
All my emails were promptly respond by client and shipper: Taller de Arte Matiz.
Only after the 5th email they instruct me to advance EUROS 5,246.00 to ship the goods and release documentation to our name. ALL THE ALARMS start ringing but it was night time in Europe and my attempts to call Taller de Arte Matiz in Spain went to a message bank, I did not use the phone provided by the scammers but the web page phone as it is a legit business operating in Spain.
End of the story is that I wait until the morning in Spain contacted the Art Gallery and they confirm that it was a scam, they told me that they only provide art classes and have never new this Grace or have any of their goods or arrange shipments etc, etc.
Moral of the story is to be aware, check the sources and that it pays to belong to a network, it has been the perfect move for my business in the freight forwarding arena and if you are trying to get all your business from Google you are going to have to sharp your senses to these thieves out there.
Alberto Coll / LOBO LOGISTICS / Member of CLC PROJECTS Network.