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How to spot an Avon email scam
The internet is full of scammers
This is a fact, and it's just something a person has to accept and live with. Don't ignore it.
If you're an Avon Rep, and especially if you have an online store, your email address will be in the public domain, which means scammers will be able to find you. Unfortunately, it means you have to take every single contact request with a grain salt and a critical eye, and you can't be impulsive or greedy. Fortunately, though, there's a lot of commonalities in the emails they send, since most are simple copy-and-paste jobs, and you should be able to tell when someone is legit or not.
Look out for the following:
- Someone who lives in another state, but is coming through on "a showbiz" or who represents themselves as a "retail buyer" (which is against the contract you signed, anyway), or who is out of the country for now and still wants to order.
- Someone with a name and a bunch of numbers as their email address. Pay attention to the names used; scammers will often change the number part, but keep the same name or something similar.
- A sob story about being deaf / blind, a single mother, and having lost someone in an accident recently-- especially if they claim all three. It's playing on your sympathies so you won't question them when they say strange things.
- Really poor grammar and punctuation, like they barely know English. Most of the scams come from overseas.
- Someone who asks to pay through their boss's check or a finance department, or who wants a lot of personal information to send you a money order-- it's all an attempt to get enough info to steal your identity and / or get you blamed for check fraud. They'll send three or four times what they owe you, then ask you to wire it back to them. If you do, you'll find out in a few days that the check was reported stolen and you didn't actually have the money in the bank to wire to them, and now you're out thousands of your own dollars, because the wire will still go through.
- Large orders between 200 and 600$ of the most expensive products in multiple quantities. They want to sell your products overseas, AND get your money.
- All the emails will have similar text. The names, businesses and products might change, but the instructions and the explanations will almost be identical.
- A request to have some third-party mail courier pick up the order and send it somewhere else. It will usually be overseas, or somewhere rural like West Virginia. If they can't pick it up and pay you in person, you don't need their business.
What to do about it
You'll likely get a lot of these emails, so it's easiest if you fight form letters with form letters. Write up a polite reply message for when you get contact emails, and anticipate what they're going to say: direct them to shop through your e-rep site, tell them you can't accept credit cards except through the site's system, and you'll only accept checks in person, with ID, phone number and contact info (and maybe something to make scammers nervous, like a thumb-print or something). If they aren't local, which they never are, tell them they can only order through your site, and you'll gladly help them find someone local to where they live. Send out the same answer every time, so when you get hit multiple times by one scammer, they know you're onto them. Most won't contact you again when you say you can't help them, but they may try under a different name; tell them the same thing.
If it's not a scammer, they'll be reasonable and try to work with you without offering to have a third party send you the money or asking you to run a credit card for them because they can't figure it out.
Keep all your correspondence in case it's needed to prove that they're scammers or that you were scammed.
Go online and post articles like this one so people can find the information, and report the emails and details to scam-watching sites-- do a quick google search and you'll find dozens of them.
If you already accepted a check from one, check the name on the check against the name they gave you and any contact info you have on them-- if it's something totally unlikely to need a bunch of makeup, if the names don't match, if the amount is way too much, and / or if the address is from somewhere different from where they said they're from, it's a scam and it's probably stolen or forged. Hand it over to the bank or to the local FBI office with a full report of where it came from. If you've already deposited it, wait a minimum of three weeks-- it will always bounce or un-deposit if it's fake, and turn it in to the bank then, too. But you shouldn't have gotten that far, if you're not taken in!
An example email
All the suspicious parts will be underlined:
Good to hear from you.I am from Maryland but will be coming over FL for a showbiz in one of the Hotels Conference hall around you shortly.We have prefer to order online but for now all purchases in our company are done with paper payment so i would love you to place the order for me.Below are the list of items needed:
Petal by Cynthia Rowley Eau de Toilette Spray 241-328 .....................(2)
Meadow Dew Splash 232-733............................................................(1)
Bond Girl 007 EDP Spray 865-858......................................................(3)
Supercurlacious Mascara Black 441-669.............................................(2)
Anew Wrinkle Smooth Deep 239-996..................................................(1)
Flower by Cynthia Rowley Eau de Parfum Spray 241-294.....................(1)
Eye Palette 434-751 .........................................................................(2)
ANEW ULTIMATE Age Repair Elixir 390-603 ......................................(2)
I would need to know the total of all the products i requested for and also the name and address you want the payment sent to and also a phone number i can reach you on.After you send me this information the Manager of our company will mail you a check for the payment,which you can cash instantly at your bank because we need these items, before the date of the event and they will be picked up at your location Upon my Arrival .I hope to read from you soon with all details required.
1- Name to be written on the payment:
2- Mailing address ( No p.o.box ):
3- Phone Number:
5- Zip Code:
Thank you and enjoy your day and how much sales tax to charge? and when is The next order date?
(Assistant Personnel Manager)
The names that I have gotten in my inbox, all with almost the same emails, and all just the last few months are:
Denis Wilson, Lola Maze, Shawn Morgan, Linda Collins (twice under different emails), Pat Smith (twice, under different emails), Tina Smith, Rita Perry, Mandy Davies, Tera Sommers, Lucy Jess, Lisa Dave, Jim Walton, and Renee Walker. See how some of them sound weird? And some are similar to others? Yeah, scammers!
What names have you gotten in your contact requests? List them all in the comments so other people can avoid them!