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Fraud Alert: 3M Scam

June 9th, 2009 admin No comments

We experienced a very unusual, but professional scam that almost got us, but our process
of verification saved us.

Here was the situation:

We received an email from a person by the name of “Mark C” from the company 3M wanting to get some Cisco Catalyst switches and wanted them shipped overnight.  OK, so, we quoted him for the hardware requested.  He sent us a PO, credit references, everything.  Very professional and legit.  We assumed.

We checked out the website and called the number listed within the email/documents, which gave a professional greeting and Auto Attendant.  Everything looked good.

However, since most scams happen this way we carefully did more digging even though everything looked good and everything was professional looking.  Our email exchange was going on for more than a week.

It was troubling to us that if this was “high priority” and wanted it overnight to an address that didn’t belong to 3M in any way, our red lights started flashing.

Next, we went to google and did a search for 3M directly, which brought us to a different URL than was listed on the website.  Next we dialed the number listed directly from the website, nothing listed from the emails or documents we received from Mark.  Then asked to speak with Accounts Payable to confirm a PO from 3M and the details of that quote.

Well, just as we expected, the PO was invalid and 3M was aware of this scam and the name they were using.  Must have been a person who use to work for the company.

We have to maintain our professionalism at all times.  So, we sent Mark an email stating that we know this was a scam and that nothing has been shipped or ordered because we do not conduct in that kind of business.

This posting is to help provide awareness for other companies against individuals with elaborate scams and protect companies from these type of activities.

So, if you receive anything that involves a quote for purchase always confirm and do some of the following:

  1. Obtain all credit and trade references from the company.  Valid them.
  2. Obtain a PO
  3. Go to the company’s main website by doing a Google Search, for example, and locating the phone number from that webpage.  You can turn on Phishing if you like.  From there call the number listed, speak with Accounts Payable and confirm the PO number, the name of the person, and the details of the order.  Do not call or use any info provided in the documents and email listed.
  4. If it feels weird, like individuals who say they will pay via Cashier’s Check, don’t respond.  It’s not worth it since there are many places on the web to order affordable hardware than your company!
  5. State that you require full purchase via credit card.  (e.g. CDW)

Those are the things we have done and continue to do without issues.  I’m very sure that many of you have encountered this, but for those who haven’t this is posted for those companies for awareness.  Because with the 3M scam and speaking with the person in there AP department it did affected a few companies that lost money because of this elaborate scam, which obviously involved more than one individual.

Watch out and Good Luck!

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