Saturday, February 4, 2012

Russian and Ukrainian C2B and B2B Scams

Recently I have noticed an uptick in reports about what I would call
B2B and C2B scams. They fall in two categories:
  • Overpayment scams
  • Investment scams

Overpayment scams:
These scams operate like this.
A service provider (for example, a Bed & Breakfast, a cleaning company, or a freelance nanny, for example) receives a letter from someone, who states that he/she plans to purchase a certain $$$ value worth of the services (for example, 7 days worth of stay, or 6 weeks worth of nanny services), and offers to pay by check.
The check arrives promptly – but for a wrong amount. For example, the total cost of the services was supposed to be $3,500, but the check is for $35,000.
The customer explains that a bank made a mistake, and asks the business owner to cash a check anyway, take $3,500 for the agreed-upon services, and send the balance back to the customer by Western Union. The money is to be wired to a person located in Russia or Ukraine.
The business owner follows the instructions, withholds $3,500, and sends the rest of someone in Russia/Ukraine. Within a few days a notice arrives from the bank that the original check bounced, and the business owner who cashed the check is now liable for the return of the funds.
The best thing to do in situations such as this is not to cash checks for any amounts different from those specified in the agreement.
Tell-tale signs of scam:
  • Brief, no-social interaction type of emails from the buyer
  • Buyer's emails are written in a broken English
  • The buyer wants to pay by check
  • The check is for a larger amount than the agreement specifies.


On your own:•       searching for the name, address, and IP address of your buyer on the Internet
Checking through RD:•       obtaining a free online evaluation to determine the best course of action
•       performing a Quick Internet Scam Check to make sure that there is nothing on the Internet that can help you to determine whether or not this person is a scammer
Total cost of the research: $62 - $140.


Investment scams (oil, gas, mazut, fertilizers, minerals)

These scams operate like this: someone from Russia contacts you about a lucrative opportunity to participate in the sale some Russian natural resources, such as oil, mazut, gas, minerals, fertilizers, etc. You are offered to make a very profitable deal if it could be executed quickly.
The seller has good contacts within all the right ministries in Russia. The seller produces a ton of impeccably looking documents, like irrevocable purchase orders, letters of payment, bank statements, etc. He also sends links to web site of appropriate Russian regulatory agencies that show which fees ought to be paid and which procedures need to be followed. It is not unusual that a “lawyer” or an “accountant” with a UK phone number will be a part of the discussion.
The seller asks you to transfer money to someone in Russia, but once the money are transferred, the deal stalls, and eventually the seller stops all communication.
Tell-tale signs of scam:
  • Seller is writing in a broken English
  • The Russian seller has a Nigerian or a Western-sounding name (like Obe Njerjandal or Tim Burrows)
  • The Russian names are written in a wrong order, for example, Petr Ivanov Sergeevitch (first, last, middle)
  • Presence of any phone numbers with +44 as a country code in the seller’s contact information
  • The buyer needs you to make a payment for some regulatory transaction fee

    Detection is very difficult, because all the set up is basically impeccable. Only professional verification of documents will show whether they are fake or not.

    Detection:On your own:
  •   searching for the seller’s name, address, and IP address on the Internet
    Checking through RD:
  •       performing a 3-Point Check to verify that the person whose passport was provided for the purpose of the transaction is a real person
  • performing a Passport Validity Verification research 
  • performing a Quick Internet Scam Check to make sure that there is nothing on the Internet that can help you to determine whether or not this deal is a fraudulent setup
  • performing an Agency Check to make sure that the company with whom you are supposedly working really exists
  • verifying the validity of the documents this person sent to you
  • asking RD to perform verification of the sellers' rights to the property, or his real standing in the case
Total cost of the research: $45 - $500.

1 comment:

  1. I think that if you are skeptical of doing any business online, especially in this case, you should consider international background checks. You can avoid any potential Russian scams this way because you would want a clear conscience on what you are getting yourself into beforehand. If it is legitimate, than you can move forward. If it isn't, then you should stay away and cut off all contact possible.