Be Warned! They Are Targeting Retail Start-ups

I was so excited when I got a bulk order email inquiry from Natasha Alice of Alice Stores in "Netherlands" last week. She wrote: 

"How're you?I want to purchase an order from your company to our store in The Netherland. I want to know if you can ship international and also your form of payment?e:g...Credit card.Please i will like to know the type of merchandise you use in processing the payment. Await your reply back asap. Thank you and God bless you."

Of course, I hurriedly got back to her because i was excited to make sales. 

Hey Natasha,
Thank you for your email. We are happy you want to do business with us.We can definitely ship to Netherlands depending on the order quantityyou wish to place. We use credit card payment or Wire transfer for payment. Please let us know your order quantity and any other questions you might have. Looking forward to your response. Thank you.

Her response:

Hello,
Good to read back from you, I would like you to get back to me with the total cost plus shipping via the below shipping agency,for the quantity of item requested below.
YEMA Bay Sports Bra
M / Black
.......10 QTY
YEMA Bay B+Y Sports Bra
M.......10 QTY
YEMA Bay Spectrum tights Turq
M......5 QTY
YEMA Bay Spectrum tights
M / Black.......5 QTY
YEMA Bay B+Y legging
M......5 QTY
    DELIVERY ADDRESS:
    ALICELOOK STORES:
    Address :  montgomerplein 95705 AX helmond,netherland
    Also, I experience difficulties when it comes to getting orders to my client address in Helmond,  Netherlands i would be best if you contact the shipper which i
used in the past (SAVEMOREFREIGHTLNC@POST.COM), you can also notify them with my customer ID# QH76572786B.
    I will need you to obtain a quote and get back to me with: (TOTAl COST OF THE ORDER) (COST OF THE SHIPPING VIA SAVEMOREFREIGHTLNC@POST.COM SHIPPING CO.TOTAL COST
(ORDER + SHIPPING VIA SAVEMOREFREIGHTLNC@POST.COM SHIPPING CO)
    Once i have these details, i will get back to you with my credit card details immediately.so you can charge and make the necessary shipping arrangements.
Thank's
Natasha

I was excited but a little bit concerned about her email since we only use UPS or FEDEX to ship. Also why only mediums?

Anyways, I sent her the invoice and order total. She replied:

Thanks for the total quote of my order.The total cost of my order is okay with me and I'm ready to pay the bills and want you to send me aninvoice via email and i will advise with my Credit Card for you to charge for the payment of my order.But,i just got a response from my shipping Agent that He cannot receive payment via credit or debit card from me at the moment.I want you to help me Charge another Ten day shipment (5 to 10days) $690.76 USD to my shipping agent who is going to pickup my ordered items from you. The $690.76USD that will be sent to the shipping agent is for the shipping of my order plus Collection from your Yard Customsclearanceand insurance Duties & taxes Inland transit.shipping fee will be deducted from my credit card.Also, I'm compensating you with the sum of $70USD for the transfer fee and for surcharge. Please note that i should have given the shipping agency my credit card for him to deduct the shipping funds but He told me that he doesn't have the facilities to charge or debit credit card at the moment,so that's why i bring my vote of confidence in you and i don't want you to betray the vote of confidence i put in you,I want you to transfer the funds to him after you have make thecharges and the money charged from my credit card is clear in your account,then you can now make the transferto the agent.So the charges you'll make on my credit card will below:
 Order Fee ($US2,289.65. )
 Agent fee with shipping Ten day shipment (5 to 10 days) $690.76 USD
Transfer Fee plus Your compensation ($70 USD)Total:($3,050.41 USD )
Note that my credit card will be charged for the amounts above. Please do get back to me if you are in the office right now so that i can forward my credit card details to you,then you can charge full amount and transfer the agent shipping funds. Hope you understand? Thanks for your co-operation & understanding.Hope to read from you ASAP. Thanks and God Bless you
Natasha Alice

How generous and wonderful Alice is, I mused. After several emails we were ready to proceed. Then Natasha sent me another email inciting she wants to forward me her credit card info so i can help help order. I suggested that was a bad idea and i didn't want her credit card info because she shouldn't trust people with that info. She insisted an i agreed to help her.

Soon after, she sent her credit card information. Even though everything checked out fine, I was concerned since the billing address of the card was in New York USA and the shipping in Netherlands. That didn't add up to me. Soon after the order went through, Natasha requested i contact the shipping company. 

The shipping company responded:

Hello Client,
Thanks so much for getting back to us and will be glad to make the pick up as soon as will receive the payment.You'll  to go into a a local agent of western union Transfer agent any that is  closer to you, and make the  transfer with cash at hand. When you get to the Outlet/Office with cash you'll give the clerk the money and fill the transfer form.You'll fill the form as you the sender of the money and the below details as the receiver name.
Details to make the transfer to at western union Outlet shop:
RECEIVER NAME: WALLY HAMBERGER
STATE....ILLINOIS
CITY....INGLESIDE
ZIP CODE...60041
Immediately we confirmed the transfer, we'll computer generate the shipping label for the order and attach it to your Email to print out andpaste on the packages to be picked up and the shipment will be on our waiting list. Our agent will be at the pick up address, the same day for the pick up when the shipment is ready. I will be waiting to read back from you with the details of the transfer and immediately we confirmed it, We can proceed to generate the shipping label and attachit to you to print out.
Yours Sincerely,
Thanks for choosing SAVE MORE FREIGHT INC.

 Now this was hella confusing. Why would the shipping company demand only cash payment via western union? Why would a Dutch shipping company tell me to send money to an individual in Ingleside Illinois? Doesn't make sense right? or am i tripping. I thought to myself. Meanwhile, Natasha was pushy demanding her order be sent:

Good morning,just getting to office,i expected to receive my shipping label from the shipping company,but I received nothing,can you kindly do the payment to the company today?I'm so worried why it's getting so late...I need the goods so I can sell them off before christmas.
Please kindly send the payment fee to the shipper so I can get my goods fast.
Thanks
Natasha Alice

I replied:

Hi Natasha,
Thank you for you email. We understand your concern. Pardon the slightdelay. Usually, it takes a day or two to prepare an order for shipment. Also, the shipping company requested cash payment via western union.Our methods of payment are cheque, CC or wire transfer. Cash payment usually requires approval.
We are working to get you your goods as fast as possible.
Thank you for shopping at YEMA

A day later, she sent me this:

 Hello there,
 What's wrong with my goods? Can you kindly let me know the condition of my order.
 Thanks

I was stalling to find out if the payment from her card was going to go through and if the card will be reported stolen. Nothing happened and the payment seemed legit. I contacted stripe to report the situation and to check whether the card was fraudulent. After a few hours, they got back to me and said the card was ok. Stripe's policyindicates businesses are liable for any fraudulent transaction.

At this point, my guts had had it. I cancelled the transaction and refunded Natasha the payment she made. She emailed me requesting the status of her order and I said:

We cancelled your order Alice. It appeared fraudulent. Your money has been refunded.
Thank you,
Team YEMA

Later, I copied and pasted Natasha's email on Google search and was shocked and relieved at the same time. If I approved the transaction, our company would have lost like 7,000 dollars :( Unfortunately, some people have lost close to 10,000 dollars.

Follow this link to find retail companies that have been scammed by the same exact scheme Natasha tried on us: 

http://edgewatersoaps.blogspot.com/2012/12/international-shipping-scams.html