There are variations on this, but one in particular has been making the rounds.
It comes from David White firstname.lastname@example.org The subject is "Orders to Germany"
The letter is
"I will like to order some few items in your website via email order. Do you ship to Germany? And what type of cards do you accept for payment? My shipper will handle for payment?"
In one of the most comprehensive responses to this sort of scam I am reprinting what Andy Daniel of Enginuity Games posted on the ASTRA Message Board.
"These scams are nothing new and I guarantee you "David White" doesn't exist. That name will change over time. We receive scam emails exactly like this several times a week. It's almost always the same - a company that doesn't seem to know what you sell ready to place a large order paid by credit card where the "freight forwarder" will pick it up. They "include" the cost of the forwarding for you to pay the forwarder by Western Union. A month later, you get chargebacks form the credit card company because the card numbers, while legitimate, are stolen or more often guessed (they've tried thousands of numbers and a few happen to be real, so they call you with those).
I've sold overseas many times to legitimate companies without any trouble, but you can spot these scams pretty easily.
The following are tip-offs:
- Slightly off-tone wording by someone claiming to be an American operating overseas (wording like "Houston, USA" or "Houston, Texas, USA" are common).
- Names consisting of two first names (my own name, Andy Daniel, ironically fits that).
- Asking to split a payment between multiple credit cards (almost 100% indication of fraud).
- Asking for freight forwarder to be paid by Western Union (always fraud).
- Generically named companies that could be in any business because they are sending this email to everyone (Bombay Global Import Co.).
- Telling they want to place an order and asking you for your catalog.
- They want to buy "your products" not "your new super bouncy ball line".
- They want to buy a large quantity right away!
- The return email address is generic and/or does not match the company. (When Toys R Us, to give an outdated example, would contact me, the email address was always email@example.com, NOT firstname.lastname@example.org).
- An email after the order, asking you to reply with the total amounts.
I want to make it clear that I don't recommend simply ignoring contacts from overseas companies. But the vast majority of these overseas contacts will be scams. In almost all these cases these people are not trying to steal your product, but rather your money. Just do a little research, these scammers are not that sophisticated and the veneer falls away pretty quickly."
Palo Alto, California