October 28, 2014
Purchase order scams have evolved and these days often include the use of dodgy domains.
Purchase order scams used to just involve a fraudster from overseas attempting to place an order for goods on credit. These attempts were quite easy to spot if a little due diligence was exercised.
Nowadays, they can be quite sophisticated affairs warns the FBI.
The evolved purchase order scam involves several layers of deceit.
The fraudsters may set up websites using domain names very close to those of well-known and respected companies or educational institutions. They may even go as far as to using techniques to make phone calls appear to come from the real organisation's area code.
The fraudster then contacts a retailer to glean information on the purchasing account of the organisation they have created a fake representation of.
Armed with this information, they then request a quote for products, using official looking documents - and also ask for credit. If the retailer visits the web site noted in communications, everything appears to be legitimate and since the organisation is known, the request for credit may be granted.
The goods are shipped to a local (U.S.) address - and the person receiving the items may have no idea they are assisting with the fraud. The person has often been befriended through other scams such as those related to dating sites. The U.S. person has received instructions from the fraudster to ship the goods to an address overseas.
By the time the vendor bills the real institution and discovers the fraud; it's often too late - once the goods have left the country, there can be little hope of getting them back.
The FBI has posted a more detailed account of how the scam works and how to avoid falling victim. In the case of the fake web sites, special attention should be given to the domain name that has been provided. For example, if an Australian "university" has lodged a purchase order, the related domain name and email addresses should end in EDU.AU, not other extensions such as .COM.
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