Friday, November 11, 2016

Scams in the Distribution Business

We have all received some sort of scam message or been warned by friends "don't open that" in our personal lives.  I suppose it had to happen sometime. We should be both honored and terrified. Finally, after all these years, the scammers have managed to discover the distribution industry, too.

Here’s the scoop, all of our websites identify with distributors. We publish a lot of information and our email addresses are all over the web. To the untrained eye and Google key word searches, we probably appear to be a distributor. A couple of months ago, we received a request for quotation from a major public university. Looking at it closely, I debated as to whether it was fair for me to forward it to a friend near the school. But I looked again.

The email address for the university didn’t look exactly right – I mean how many big time public institutions have their purchasing department using a Yahoo email address. Still, maybe there was a reason, so I did a search on the college. A strange message came up from the purchasing department (posted below.)

In the next week, I received multiple requests for similar products from other organizations. Here are a couple of examples:
Dear Distributor,
Let me have the price cost for these product.
1,ESV373N04TXB - Lenze AC Tech SMV Series Drive: 50 HP (37 kW),

480V 3Phase input in NEMA 1 enclosure
2,ESV183N04TXB.Lenze AC Tech SMV Series Drive: 25 HP (18.5 kW), 480V 3 Phase input in NEMA 1 enclosure
also With the shipping cost to Romulus, MI 48174 Via Ups next day delivery.
Let me know the type of credit card you do accept for the


I guess business in scam land is picking up.  Notice how the quantities have jumped in this order for different but still industrially focused products:
Attention Sales dept,It's our great honor and privilege to have you as one of our vendor or supplier. My name is Nathan Andridge, Senior Director- Purchasing for Ohio State University.  we are directed to your location to purchase some of the below Listed items.
UNITS DESCRIPTION40 FLIR CM85 Power Clamp Meter40 FLIR ONE for Android1 ZA4208TX-Q Enerpac Air Hyd Pump - Torque Wrench
1 ZA4204TX-Q Enerpac Air Hyd Pump - Torque Wrench
Please indicate all prices FOB our place of business with our payment term via Net due in 30 days after the invoice date and indicate when your price quote shall expire. Advise as soon as possible with price quote so I may prepare the PO and have it send to you to finalize the order.

Best Regards,
Nathan Andridge
Senior Director- Purchasing
Ohio State University2650 Kenny RoadColumbus, OH 43210, USA800-217-2051 Phone614 350-4878

Here is the warning from one of the universities used in the quote scam….

Procurement and Contracting Services Notice to Suppliers: Fraudulent Purchase Order E-mail Activity
We want to alert you to an active e-mail scam involving purchase orders and requests for quotes that purport to originate from UC Davis, but are in fact fraudulent. While the University cannot prevent this illegal activity, we are actively working with law enforcement to investigate these fraudulent e-mail contacts.
Here are some common traits or themes of these fraudulent e-mails that may help reduce risk to your company in becoming a financial victim of this scam: 
• The e-mail message is poorly written, with misspellings and awkward sentence structure• The sender's e-mail address or website link are not authentic to UC Davis• The message requests shipment of products to non-UC Davis addresses• The message may include an attachment that is designed to look like a purchase order, may include a logo or other graphic, and a signature that may look legitimate.
Prior to responding to the e-mail or filling the order, you may verify its legitimacy by contacting Procurement and Contracting Services by phone, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at (530) 752-0370. 
UC Davis values our partnership with you - and appreciates the very important role you play in providing goods and services to our faculty, students and staff in support of their academic, research, and patient care endeavors. Please know that we are assisting to the fullest extent we are able with the investigation of this illegal activity by reporting all fraudulent e-mails to appropriate authorities.
If you believe you have received a fraudulent e-mail, you may forward it to

Wrapping up this bit of cool news.
I believe the guidelines from UC Davis are appropriate. Further, I believe we as a group must be vigilant. One newbie on the order desk could easily read this and send out information which could damage your business.

We are once more offering the River Heights Consulting grand prize of a Post Card from Iowa to anyone who forwards us more of these scam order requests…


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