But the man ordering was a difficult customer. He insisted that I use a particular freight company that he had an account with. I was instructed to contact the company for a quote. The order was for approximately $250 worth of stock. The freight quote was for over $600! I suggested that the client let me find a cheaper shipping method and found the US Postal Service could have handled the shipment via Priority Mail for around $150. But he insisted that his shipper, FasLink Cargo Express, was reliable and knew how to get the right paperwork through customs, etc. He also said he would pre-pay the freight. I thought Why not? It's his money...
So I invoiced Mr. Benjamin Oliveros of 115 Cairo Street, Giza, Cairo, Egypt the total amount of $866.50. He then sent me a payment via his Master Card because PayPal doesn't service Egypt. I actually checked with PayPal about that and they confirmed it. I still didn't like the idea of wasting that much money on freight--I wondered how he could possibly sell Psycards at a profit with shipping charges like that. But, hey, it was his money...
I used my Square credit card port with my new smart phone. First transaction ever. Mr. Oliveros called to see if I had paid FasLink yet and arranged the shipment. I had not because the Square transaction did not post to my home bank account for two days. For two days, he called me and emailed me several times a day. I kept telling him I couldn't do anything until I received the payment. And then I would pay FasLink and schedule the pickup. He didn't seem to understand that I had no control over how the banks work or how soon the shipper could get his package to him. I began to wonder why he was in such a hurry.
This morning, the money arrived in my bank account. In the meantime, I had contacted FasLink to make payment. They sent me odd instructions--I was to send the money via Western Union! Aggravated at how difficult this was becoming, I still didn't quite get the message. I tried to convince FasLink to set up a PayPal account and let me pay them that way. They insisted on the Western Union transfer. I set up an account with WU and actually tried to make the payment. Thank Spirit that WU has good security--they refused my transaction. I still didn't hear the bell.
I contacted FasLink and told them. They said I needed to get cash and actually go to the WU local office to send the money. Of course, Oliveros had already called me wanting to know what was going on. A real pain in the ass and I was getting very aggravated with both of them. I was outraged that they expected me to get up and go to my bank to send money to a shipper! Why didn't he just prepay them directly? But I tried to remain a good customer service person and make the client happy. Still, the more I thought about it, the madder I got. Something wasn't right. (I know, you're thinking, "Duh!")
Then the light came on. The bell rang. It likely wasn't his money! So I called the FBI. And they said this was likely a scam. I needed to check that credit card. It was probably stolen. So, I called my bank. They agreed this was not right. They arranged to send the "payment" back to Square. I called MasterCard and they put me in touch with Citibank. The card was a closed account. I emailed Oliveros and FasLink and told them I had talked to the FBI and I thought this was a scam. I haven't had an email or call since.
In the meantime, I have filed an official fraud report with the following: IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, MasterCard, Citibank, the FBI, the London police, the Federal Trade Commission, Western Union and gmail.
Here are the names and email addresses of the fraudsters: Benjamin Oliveros, email@example.com. FasLink (Alan Oxford), firstname.lastname@example.org, the recipient Rita Greg in London. Mr. Oliveros spoke very polished English with a slight Spanish accent. Feel free to share this with anyone who might be a victim of this scam.
My angels and good security practices protected me this morning from my own blindness. I won't make that mistake again. I will be drafting specific rules for transactions and posting them to the Psycards USA web site.