Fake Check Schemes Target Paint Contractors
Paint contractors are no different than other home improvement contractors, when it comes to being scammed. Below is first hand experience having our information online for the world to see. Providing a website online for customers to easily contact us, whether it be from an iPhone or desktop, is today's best form of marketing. Without a website and contact information, a business will be left in the dust sts.
However, business owners, paint contractors alike are currently being targeted by scams, fraudulently trying to gain sums of moneys from us. Further down, you will see what to look for, alerting you to either hang up, delete the text, or not answer the emails you may get. Just getting mad does not help. Writing this blog, informing all contractors will. If this can help one contractor, I feel this has been worthy writing this article, just as knowing picking out paint colors with your clients is a vital part of any paint contracting business.
Unusual Text Messages Turning Out as Scams, Frauds, & Embezzlement
Today, so many text messages are going back and forth across cell phone services, this makes tracking the dishonest ones even more difficult. Having received hundreds of text messages myself each year, I rarely answer one, if they are not already a customer, which has been a self-taught tip, knowing they are probably scams, frauds, and or embezzlers. The world now is after the almighty dollar, with millennials thinking they should have everything given to them on a silver platter, without needing to work for it. Not sure what major group is responsible for this, but know these shysters are from one culture, age group, or another.
Red flags to watch to watch out for is the person texting you, asking an obvious question of your line of work. Such as asking if you paint, if you're indeed a painter. Asking if you can paint an interior or exterior home, if indeed you're a painting contractor. At first, replying ''Of course we do'', then they follow up with stuff like ''Well, can you give me a quote painting my home, and do you accept credit cards"? At first, this does not seem too invasive, but if you answer yes, they have a plan, described below. If not, they also have a plan mentioned below.
Next Red Flag is, "Well, I'm in the hospital, fixing to have a lung removed, or both legs and one arm amputated ''. Hummm, my question is how and why in the world would anyone buy a home, if having scheduled a lung or a couple legs removed the very next day? Still even wanting their home painted, having one leg in the grave, and one on a banana peel! Just doesn't make any sense.
Giving the benefit of the doubt, some contractors are sympathetic, going ahead looking at the job, knowing the homeowner is not present. This is where we generally draw the line! If we are going to take time out of our busy day to provide a free estimate, we expect to meet our potential customers personally! If married, we request both to be present, that way both can decide right then and there, if they like what is presented to them, and sign on the dotted line.
Red Flags of Scammers and Embezzlers
- Asking Obvious Questions
- Having Horrible English
- Cannot Follow Directions
- Google Phone Numbers
- Text Only Numbers
- Not Present at Location
- Having Multiple Amputations
- Asking if You Accept Credit Cards
- Cannot use PayPal, but only Square™
So therefore, if someone out of the blue, texts asking if we paint, and do we accept credit cards, I text them back ''Yes we do, please fill out paint quote form at Contact Us page of our website", as it clearly states at the bottom of this page;
Eco Paint accepts PayPal™. A highly secure online payment system, with no extra merchant charges to our customers! Eco Paint pays all processing fees. Yes, Eco Paint accepts credit cards through PayPal™, and not through Square™.
This typically shuts them up, forcing them to find a gullible victim of less experience and expertise. However, some keep texting, asking if they can pay twice as much, but their credit card does not work with PayPal™. Hounding the text messaging back, not giving up easily. As a seasoned painting contractor, knowing if they can't follow directions, to fill out Paint Quote Request Form, we do would rather not want to waste our time. Many legitimate local requests, pick up the phone, using their iPhones, pushing a button on our website to call us, and or fill out the online form. Then, once initial contact is made, plus if they become a client of ours, text messages are all the more important, and convenient for both parties.
Fraudsters and Scammers from Somalia or Nigeria
Having called back several of these text messages in the beginning, we have found many of these fraudsters and scammers do not understand, having horrible English. Knowing how to log on the internet, most dialects coming from Somalia or Nigeria, as also the way they respond in text messages. Like, ''Thank you, but need paint house cost, please provide estimations. I gladly pay you $5000.00 cash for giving me quote first, then doing job'', but just asked if we accept credit cards for Heaven's sake! Catching them in their own lies can be somewhat amusing at first, but know they are full of it. At that point, if I haven't blocked them already, will be on next text they send me!
I've been known to say they need to choose paint colors, even though they might be in the hospital, playing around with them on text messages. Some come back saying ''Well, color paint any you want, same ok!''. I really wished it were that easy, but needing you to choose paint colors! Who in their right mind would go down this path of this BS, feeling ''Too Good to be True''. Offering to pay me almost twice as much just going out to see the job, painting any darn color I wish? If too good to be true, it probably is. Having called a few back from their texted phone number, most if not all, are Google generated phone numbers, seemingly from Africa, being another Red Flag. To verify number, you can call the text number back, and bet you'll get a message saying, "You have reached a text only phone from Google''.
Hey now, not profiling, just know none have a French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, or Italian accent. Well knowing ISIS is big in Africa, could be from them. Or, another group over there, like those pirates from Somalia, who knows! Wouldn't put it past either one of them. Never have I had a legitimate client want to us to paint a home with any color I wanted to use, offering to pay me double the normal cost. This is total BS, and run away from these empty barrels as fast as you can.
More Red Flags of Scammers, Swindlers, and Fraudsters
Normally these scammers, thieves & fraudsters with half a brain text you with message, asking the obvious questions the website answers, if they would just read it. Knowing this is how they found you, through your online website. Your site must be clear to the point what you do, how you do it, and what forms of payment you accept. Then, you get a stupid text asking if you paint, roof, or install windows, you can easily direct them back to your website for further direction. I have researched this so much over the last few years, shutting them up with ''Yes, we accept C.cards through PayPal.
Next Big Red Flag would be, ''Well, my card doesn't work with PayPal''. BING, Wrong answer! PayPal knows who is a scammer, who's credit cards are worthy or not. So if a potential client's card is not accepted through PayPal, neither should you waste your time, especially doing the work if that gullible.
Have Had it With These No-Goods Pushing Square™ Too!
Other times they may not be trying to embezzle your money, but get you subscribing to Square™. Square being a plug-in for your iPhone, thereby transferring money. Again, directing them to our contact page, asking them to fill out form. If they continue texting, if we accept credit cards, I strongly request them directing them back to your website, this way your maximizing all the web traffic you can, with good intentions or not.
Getting Swindler's Word Out to Contractors
Wanting to get the word out to as many contractors as possible of these embezzlers, knowing the pitfalls of some dishonest few, making our work, that more challenging. Being smarter than those swindlers, hope you do not fall into their traps, getting text messages, and/or emails trying to rob you. Remember, if they ask if you do the obvious, and they are not there, having only one leg, or lung removed yesterday or tomorrow, and asking if you take credit cards, run away!
Having our top house painting website on the internet for many years now, knowing everyone can see, this allows even the unscrupulous, and dishonest portion of the online community to see as well. This is why it is so important to determine the legitimacy of the initial contact. Also good idea having State of Art security measures for your site, knowing it's a big online world we live in today.
Fake Check Scheme
Most Recent Article Found on the Net, wanting to include in this article for your review.
There’s plenty of work for home improvement contractors around North Texas, but this is a business often driven by recommendations and referrals.
When new contractor Charles Brand got an online lead for an estimate to paint an entire house, he was pretty pumped. “He sent me a location for an address. He stated he wasn’t in the state, he was away undergoing surgery with a specialist in California. He wanted me to give an estimate while he was away, and wanted me to do the work while he was away,” said Brand.
This was odd, but Brand says not unheard of. He’s done work for many customers who live out-of-state or wanted work done while on vacation.
So, he headed to the home in Garland, sized it up and texted an estimate for the job to his potential client. “The estimate was $1,600, and he gave me a total of $5,100 in the form of two separate checks,” said Brand.
The homeowner told Brand he couldn’t start painting just yet. He claimed to have just bought the house and still owed the previous homeowner a few thousand dollars as part of the deal. He wanted Brand to help.
The text he sent Brand about the transaction said, “You will deduct $1,600 for your service and send the extra $3,500 to the initial ex-homeowner via cash deposit.”
He wanted Brand to deposit those checks, quickly, he asked the manager at the bank for advice. They researched the checks and yes they were fake.
Brand says, “Small businesses like myself we’re an easy target for people to send fraudulent checks and we’re gullible to accept”
Typically in schemes involving checks written for more than the amount of service, crooks ask you to deposit the checks and your bank will put the money in your account. The crook will then ask you to send the extra money back to them, or wire it to some third party. Days, sometimes even weeks later, the bank realizes the checks are fake and the money is taken back. But, you have already sent the extra cash and so that money is gone from your account.
If the scammers had succeeded, Brand says “they would put my business under the ground if that had turned back on me”.
The contractor referral site Home Advisor tells it's contractors if significant work is requested but the home owner has little regard to contract terms or job details. This can be a red flag. They also say that many times fraudulent homeowners will choose to only communicate over text or email instead of on the phone
Bottom line: if something seems fishy, it likely is, so trust your instincts, like Brand did. Never accept a check from someone who wants you to send money back, or in this case give it to someone else.
While some see red flags immediately, others don’t. New business owners looking to build clientele can be particularly vulnerable.
If someone feels they may have been a victim of fraud, they should contact their local law enforcement, FBI office, or can register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.