How to Avoid a Container Scam
We did a blog post early last year on how container scams were increasing. Recently this has hit close to home. A complaint was filed to the Illinois States Attorney thinking we scammed them. In actuality, it wasn’t us. There were scammers on Facebook pretending to be us, taking money, and then never delivering the product. After obtaining copies from the couple who was scammed, we were able to see some red flags. We thought we would put together an updated checklist on how to avoid a container scam.
What to look for?
- Phone Numbers – Call them back! If it’s a scam most of the time the call won’t go through or they don’t even answer. If the call does go through, verify who you are speaking to. Is this the right company? Verify the person you are talking to works there. Is it a cell phone? I would be leary of container companies giving out their cell phone number early in the conversation. Companies will have a business landline, whether it’s a local number or a toll-free phone number. In the example below, they used our mailing address but when we called the numbers we got an error message and the other one never answered. We also google phone numbers of callers that we suspect might be scammers and find where the number has been previously reported as being fraudulent.
- Email Address – Most companies have emails with their name as the domain. All of our emails come from the domain @usa-containers.com. Scammers have been known to use multiple emails during one transaction and the address has nothing to do with the company. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org Also, if there are multiple departments contacting you most businesses will copy everyone in the same email and their address will all be uniform.
- Invoices – Reputable companies send invoices on their company letterhead. You can see their logo, phone number, email address, and business address. See an example of an invoice from a scammer below. On our invoices, we include the final price. We never send an Invoice for a set amount and then start tacking on more charges. See more about additional charges on #11.
- Payment – DO NOT PAY VIA Facebook (or any social media), ZELLE, CASHAPP, or any similar app. They are able to hide behind false email accounts and phone numbers. Consequently, most banks will not refund money sent through these types of payment apps.
- Communication – We as a company do not sell our shipping containers through social media. We have customers that reach out via social media to begin the conversation but we never sell containers via messenger. You also might be able to tell if it’s a scammer by their verbiage.
- Pricing – If it sounds too good to be true, it’s too good to be true! You can also call other companies and compare pricing. Once they get their deposit payment they will then continue to ask for more money.
- Physical Address – Google Map their address. Are they verified in Google Maps? You might find that it’s a UPS store or maybe even another company entirely! It’s pretty hard to have a shipping container company in the middle of a mall!
- Photos – This one you have to be careful. Anyone can take an image off the internet and send it to you. For instance, one thing to watch for is the background or surroundings. Is the picture at a random depot or does it look to be like the business’ container yard? In our photos, one could sometimes find a puppy (or part of one lol) in the photo. One of our semis might be in the background. Maybe even our sticker with our logo on the door of the container.
- Bank Information – Do not share your bank information. Scammers will try to get as much money as they can from you as quickly as they can. Be wary of aggressive sales tactics.
- Visit – Ask to come over and look at the containers yourself. If they do not allow on-site visits, this is a huge red flag. If they say yes then actually make the trip to look at the containers before you purchase anything. You might find when you get there and ask for your salesperson, that employee doesn’t even work for that company and is a scammer. Scammers will use the physical address of legitimate container businesses as a cover for their scam.
- Additional Fees – In the case, we recently were involved in, the scammer kept asking for additional fees. Fees such as Insurance, VAT Tax, additional shipping charges, and certification fees to name a few. This particular scammer even had the gall to ask for additional payment to issue a credit. Of course, this is something we will never do!
On the whole, do your due diligence. It’s better to “waste” time researching than to be scammed. It’s very sad and aggravating what these scammers can get away with. The majority of scammers prey on the elderly. Due to this, help your parents, grandparents, and elderly friends make online purchases. Remember, the older generations were not born and raised on the internet! Some of these scams can be seen miles away from the younger generations but are not as obvious to the elderly.
Do you have questions? Please feel free to reach out and we’d be happy to help! (866)884-6859
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Related Article: Container Scams are Increasing