No one ever expects a potential client to be participating in credit card scams, right? Well here is one that I could have been a victim of this weekend.
I received an e-mail from a potential client, woot woot! I opened it right away.
Before I describe the full interaction please know I am not against any requests for tutoring that are written in broken English, some of them may be legitimate. But this one starts like this:
Tomsh: hi..I’m Tomsh…i will like to know if you reading lesson or tutorials…are you the owner?
Joanne: Yes, I do reading lessons and I am the owner. Tell me about yourself.
(At this point, I was unclear as to whether the tutoring would be for him or his children. So I was trying to get him to tell me more. I use this strategy with all new inquiries).
Tomsh: good…I will like to enroll my 4 children for reading tutorial…kindly get back to me with the necessary requirement to meet up with that…
Joanne: I always start off with a free assessment to see where your children are with their reading and create an individualized plan to help them. I could test them on Tuesday at 1:00 pm CST. Let me know if that works for you and I will send you the information.
Tomsh: Thanks for your response…would have love to show up with them but can’t for now as i’m currently out of town on a business trip…I want to make an appointment for training for my children. And i want you to get back to me with total estimate for 2 times in a week lesson for 12 weeks,And also want you to know that they will becoming in a private bus and i’ll appreciate if you can secure the appointment for them…And also will like to know what you accept as a form of payment?
(First, I want to point out that no parent on the face of the planet would just send their kids to your house without getting to know you first. Second, usually when I tell people how much this is going to cost this soon in the conversation it takes a while for them to get back to me if they get back to me at all. However, he got back to me in less than 24 hours).
Joanne: The total for 2 hours a week for 4 kids would be $7,200. I accept payment in cash, credit card, or PayPal.
When would your children be arriving?
Tomsh: Hi, Thanks for your response back and am okay with the total cost of the service, I want you to know that my children will start their lesson(10th of july)..I will be making an advance payment with my card of $4000…..I want you to do me favor,,Will like to see you get back to me soon
Joanne: The 10th of July has already passed. Let’s schedule a call via Skype or Zoom to work out the details. What time zone are you in?
Tomsh: Sorry I mean August..so kindly get back to me if you okay with the advance??
(I was completely leery at this point. Stick to your gut reactions if this is the case for you as well. Do not give away any information that could help them identify you. This is how these credit card scams start off.)
Tomsh: I don’t do skype you can drop me your cell number so we can text and call fast on there..
(There is no way I am giving a guy that I think is trying to scam me my cell phone number.)
Joanne: You know I am an online tutor, right? I do all of my tutoring via Skype or Zoom.
Tomsh: So my children won’t need to come over to you???
Tomsh: Can’t we make appointment for them to come over…I already set up a private bus to bring them down for the tutors..
Joanne: Here is a link to meet me live right now via Zoom.
(At this point I am completely onto him and his scheme. I begin searching the internet for similar scams, but I also want to give him the benefit of the doubt.)
Tomsh: I want them to cos I believe it will be understood that being far away so they could be serious
Joanne: I have received e-mails like this that were not legit in the past. Please feel free to meet me here to chat.
(I am letting him know that I am onto him, but I am curious how far he is going to go with this.)
Tomsh: On its way…what do you mean it’s not legit…?
(He is delving more into my comment about this not being legit.)
Tomsh: I’m on phone and my browser safari can’t get reach the site.
(hmmm…imagine that. Typically, they will say that they are deaf and cannot talk on the phone or they cannot get your site up to meet you online.)
Joanne: I would like to chat with you to clarify details. I always like to chat with parents before they send their kids to my house or I teach them online.
Tomsh: What do you mean it’s not legit?
Joanne: Are you able to send payment via Paypal?
Tomsh: No…I will be giving you my card info to run through the payment…what merchant do you process card with?
(I am adamant that I will not be giving this weirdo my phone number. By this point I have found the scam online by typing in sending kids on bus scam. Here is one of the things I found. https://www.reddit.com/r/smallbusiness/comments/2ymb9g/new_client_possible_scam/)
Joanne: Are you going to need me to pay the bus driver?
Tomsh: Yes why won’t I pay him ??
Once I verified that this guy was going to need me to pay the bus driver, I knew it was a scam.
How the Credit Card Scams Work
So, this is how the credit card scams work. The guy uses a stolen credit card and asks you to process the payment. Then he has you pay the bus driver who is really one of his men in on the scam. Guess who ends up not making any money on this deal? Yep, you guessed it. You!
Have you received similar e-mails? What did they say? Let us know in the comment section below and make everyone aware of people who are not actually clients.