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Blog - Soap

International Shipping Scam

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Welcome to my blog under our new updated website. For my first post I'd like to talk about my recent encounter with a shipping scam. Scams come across my desk on almost a daily basis and I have got pretty good at recognizing them right away. We have been pretty busy around here with orders and getting the new website up and ready that I let one slip past and almost lost a lot of money. First contact was through the contact us page on the website from Jason Palmer at managerpalmer@email.com. His location was Fort Collins, CO. Jason's email read:

"Message: Hello,


> I will like to purchase these handmade Soaps and


> quantities:


> Lemongrass - Qty: 150

> Honey & Oats - Qty: 150

> Citrus Splash - Qty: 150

> Citrus Basil - Qty: 150

> Almond- Qty: 150

> Pearberry - Qty: 150


> Kindly email me back with the total cost plus sales tax.


> Regards.

The wording I actually read was I "would" like to purchase these handmade Soaps. We ship large amounts of soap so the quanty was not out of line and I wasn't surprised by it. As the email stands it is poor english and should have triggered caution on my part. As things stood I wrote Jason back to ask him for his tax ID number. He tells me:


>They are going to my wife who is not here in the States. She is in Australia and I will have

>the order picked up when its ready."

At that point I pick up the phone to call Jason but was not able to reach him so I write him back and tell him I tried to call him and ask if his wife has a business in Australia because there would be different regulations and for more information. He tells me he has been away to Texas for a conference and they have been through the export process and will acquire the necessary documents to buy soap from abroad. I write back and give Jason pricing and tell him that Australia has very different labeling requirements than the U.S. which I am not familiar with and he would need to meet them. Jason writes back and tells me a friend recommended our soaps and he has seen them and they are very good and he just wants the same specs.

To make a long story short I packed up all 900 bars of soap and contacted Jason through email that the soap is ready to go and gave him the shipping specs. He forwards me a "copy" of his request to his shipper for a quote. That email address was emlshipping@email.com. This email address did not make sense to me and I had a sinking feeling. Jason actually called me to tell me that his shipper could not take his payment and I would need to add the shipping cost to a revised invoice and he would then call me with his credit card number, pay it and then I would need to pay the shipper. At that point I told him that I was now uncomfortable with his order and it sounded more like the scams that come across my desk. He got flustered and told me his brother had just walked in and he would call me back and hung up. Shortly after I receive a a forwarded shipping quote from Essar Merchantline from Jason as follows:


>Below is the quote for the express shipping quote from the shipping company.I will like you to add the freight cost to >the cost of the order and send me a revised quote. I will call in with my payment details to make full payment and >Regards.

>Date: Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 12:10 PM


>Dear Valued Customer :

>We appreciate the opportunity to assist you with your international shipping needs. The data submitted has been >forwarded to our international shipping specialist.


>Quote For = River County Soapworks / Jason Support Center

>From = USA


>Origin Address = 16117 NE Fargher Lake Hwy

>Origin City = Yacolt

>Origin State = WA

>Origin Zip Code = 98675

>Origin Country = US

>Destination Address = 95 Munibung Road

>Destination City = Cardiff

>Destination Zip Code = 2285

>Destination State = New South Wales

>Destination Country = Australia

>Import customs = N/A

>Pick-up Date = N/A

>No. of Packages = 10(Ten) Boxes

>No. of Boxes/Cartons/Pallets/Skid = N/A

>Boxes/Cartons/Pallets/Skid Dimensions = N/A

>Total Weight = 291 LBS

>Commodity Type = Soaps

>Class = N/A

>destination address.

>The Quote for the Shipping is further broken down below :


>Shipping Cost :$ 2,280.00

>International Airway Taxes (I.A..T) :$ 200.00

>Packaging and Pick Up Charges :$ 100.00

>Tariffs and custom's clearance duties :$ 550.00

>And Delivery To Destination Address :$ 220.00


>Total Quote for the Freight :$ 3,350.00


>This freight charges include import & customs levies and door to door delivery. The bill of lading & all documentation >will be taken care of by the driver at the time of Pick up.

>For International Shipments:

>(To or From outside the USA): Cargo insurance will be issued "Institute Cargo Clause (C)",unless you have >arranged otherwise,which is primary coverage for the following perils: Fire or explosion,the vessel being stranded, >grounded, sunk or capsized, overturning or derailment of land conveyance, collision or contact of vessel craft or >conveyance, discharge of cargo at a port of distress, general average sacrifice and jettison. This applies to >shipments moving by truck, boat or plane.

>Payment Terms:

>For Domestic shipping in USA, we do accept credit cards, cashiers cheques, money order, bank transfers etc. with >international shipment, we require shipping charges to be paid through wire transfers ie. Bank Transfer from the >pick-up location.

>Once the payment is made,we ( Essar Merchantline & Freight Logistics Company Ltd) will start the documentation >and will come over and pick up products at the time you want and pickup arrangements will be scheduled send to >you via Fax right away including the Commercial Invoice and Pick Up Confirmations.Please include Shipping Quote >Request ID-FSSC100992US to all follow-up e-mails for reference purposes.

>Best Wishes,

>Mike Klonu,

>Freight and Logistics Manager,

>Essar Merchantline & Freight Logistics Company Ltd.

The first thing I noticed was there was no contact information for the shipper. I could not locate the shipper online and the email address of emlshipping@email.com made no sense. Also the only payment for international shipments accepted was via bank transfer from the pick up location. We have had customers use their own freight carrier and it just didn't fit. I also googled and had an Australian friend check the delivery address and occupancy is a Hytech Parts Plus store and not Palmer Support Center.   Needless to say all the boxes have been unpacked and I have not heard from Jason Palmer. I can only be grateful that I slowed down long enough to use my brain and did not carry through with this order. Lesson learned. Always use due diligence and never let flattery get the best of you. 

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