Fraud in the Midst of a Pandemic

Fraud in the Midst of a Pandemic
If we've had the chance to speak, you know me to be a believer in the science behind the technology in the products we design and resell. You'd also know I'm the first person to doubt the authenticity of some reports, charts, and diagrams from suppliers and manufacturers. We do our best always to be honest, transparent, responsive to customer concerns, and worthy of their trust.
 
I've learned throughout this pandemic that systems fail, resources are limited, logistical processes delayed, and supplier accountability is burdened by the interdependencies of so many systems currently not functioning correctly. Because of these challenges,  customers may doubt your intentions, motivation, and, quite frankly, your company's legitimacy.
 
Two weeks ago, a customer called with a problem, how to sanitize a large number of items that are used by their guest each day and returned to be used by someone else the next day. They wanted to manage a large number of items, so they established a room where the items would be placed in the evening and treated with UV and Ozone sterilizers. They required a large number of units and asked if we could deliver within ten days. We said yes and went to work.  
 
Twenty-four hours later I was called by the customer requesting a tracking number when I advised we'd likely not to have one for a few days, she became frustrated, and threatened to cancel the order. She called back the following day (Saturday), and a lot was said, but the thing that resonated loudest was when she accused the company of being a fraud. We try hard to be worthy of our customer's trust and work with vendors with similar values. Working closely with our supplier, we delivered the products in 7 days from Asia.  
 
Quite frankly, she was right to be concerned. There are so many companies worldwide, jumping in to sell products to consumers as a result of COVID-19. Consumers no longer can go to a store, touch the item, judge the quality, or speak with a sales agent. I have customers that call me directly because they have never bought anything online before so I can walk them through the process. It's how we have all been living over the past several months, in an online world ripe for frauds and scams.
 
The truth is this pandemic can bring out the best in people and sometimes the worst
 
Four weeks ago, I attempted to purchase a used vehicle to help transfer packages to and from the postal-service from a famous online car shopping brand. My information was shared with several dealerships, and a couple of vehicles were discussed. I didn't choose one of these. A week later, I received an email stating we have the exact car you are looking for from a private seller. They knew me, my address, phone number, the year, make model, and color, so I started a series of emails and multiple phone calls (with the online brand). A deal was made, delivery planned, money transferred, and no vehicle ever delivered. Suffice to say; I have been defrauded of thousands of dollars.  And I have been working with both banks and the FBI in hopes of recovering the funds. 
 
This isn't as much a sad story as it is an expensive wake-up call to be more vigilant like my customer was. Ask the hard questions, do the research, and don't trust so easily during these difficult times.

I share this message in hopes that you, your family, and friends don’t fall victim to the increase in online scams that are occurring during this pandemic. The FTC maintains a list of active fraud scams you should be aware of (sadly, mine didn’t make the list) https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts






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