MosaicBlues: Anatomy of a tentative Scam .entry-content { font-size:25px !important; }

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Anatomy of a tentative Scam





How to Scam an artist... and fail at it.

On February 9, 2015, I received an email from Nathan Ebaugh, Finnish retail businessman dealing with Art.



The whole thing was a scam...



Nathan had visited my Pinterest Board “Art Direct from Artists”. He wanted to purchase some of my mosaics and some masks from Brazilian artist Andy Ferrari. I put him in touch with Andy so he could directly deal with her.

After we agreed on prices, Nathan asked me to have my mosaics shipped to Helsinki, Finland through his US shipping agent Richard Kirk from Wichita Falls Texas. He would pay for the art and shipment with his credit card. I would just need to pay the shipment.

What would really happen was that he would pay me with a stolen credit card. I would wire money to the Shipping Agent (They do not take credit cards) to have them come pick up the Art pieces. And I would not hear anything from anybody any more.

Of course the credit card being stolen, I would get no money, the credit card payment would not be valid, but I would know about it too late. And I would have lost the money I had wired to the (Fake) Shipping Agent.



There were several red flags in this story :

  • No Websites either for the Client or the Shipping Agent.
  • Email addresses on gmail and outlook. Generally, established businesses have dedicated websites and email addresses.
  • The fact that the Shipping Agent only took wire transfers
  • The fact that Nat did not have a Paypal account (You do not need an account to make a payment through Paypal), and that he told me Paypal did not work with his credit card.
  • Specially the fact that he was asking me to find someone else who could use a credit card terminal to receive his payment.
  • Finally, I never found any Shipping Agent of this name in Wichita Falls...


I suppose the same person was handling the 2 email addresses. While this was going on, he was trying the same scam with Andy, who did not fall for it either. However, this kind of scam probably goes on. Beware !





Never send any money for shipment of your goods, unless you are protected. Once you wire money, there is nothing you can do...




Here are some of the details of the whole tentative scam :





This is the first email I received : 

Name: Nathan Ebaugh
Email: natebllc@gmail.com
Phone: 9027819872
Comments: Hello Sales, Am a Retail Business man i will like to order for some of your goods to my store in Finland,let me know if you can ship to my store in Finland and also accept credit card? Regards. Nat



We exchanged more emails and I understood he had seen one of my Pinterest Boards “Art direct from Artists” and was interested in purchasing Mosaics and Masks displayed on it. 
The masks were creation of Andy Ferrari, so I got him in contact with her. 
When I googled Nathan I could not find him. I asked him details about his activities and told him I would accept credit card payments through Paypal.

Hello Nat
Thank you for your inquiry. 
I ship mosaics worldwide, I have pieces in France, Australia and Dubai, I can ship air or sea. I make a strong wooden crate for the mosaics and they travel very safely.
I cannot directly take credit card but you can use your credit card to pay through Paypal.
Could you please tell me a little more about your business ? Do you have a web site ? 
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely 
Frederic Lecut.



I was a little surprised he had no website address, but after all, people have been doing business without website for centuries... His English was not exactly proper, but I thought that was normal for a Finnish guy. (After all my English is not perfect either...) As we agreed of the sale of 4 pieces, Nathan asked me to contact his shipping agent Castle Shipping Ltd in Wichita Falls, Texas, to ship gods to his address in Finland. I contacted the shipping agent and here is the answer I received :



Dear Client,
My name is Richard Kirk ,under the umbrella of CASTLE SHIPPING LIMITED.I am the pickup agent in charge of your customer's order, We can see in our data base that the customer with the ID # LK8230CL8 is from Finland and i can see that we have shipped to them before. Below are what we will need to quote you:
The pick-up address:(Where goods will be pick up) Dimensions: Weight: All you need to do is to pack the order down and we shall come over and have it repack for pick up. 
Richard Kirk - Castle Shipping Limited, 474 7th Street, Wichita Falls, Texas 76301




Everything seemed legit and professional...
I submitted Weight and Dimensions to the Shipping agent and received a professional email with a quote :

Dear Client,  
We would be glad to provide you with cost for shipment from the pick up location 610 Mitchell St, Headland, AL 36345 USA.Due to recent new custom regulator on some goods in Finland, the freight charges has increase which we believe Mr Nathan should be aware of. For a shipment moving from 610 Mitchell St, Headland, AL 36345 USA to Vesakkotic 6719 FI-00630 HELSINKI FINLAND , with the total weight and dimension you provide, below is the quote as requested. 
Customer ID# LK8230CL8
Your quote request # is 003649842. 
Shipping fee: $1420.00
PICK-UP ADDRESS: 610 Mitchell St, Headland, AL 36345, USA
Delivery Address: Vesakkotic 6719, FI-00630 HELSINKI, FINLAND
The freight costs includes: Collection from your Yard - Customs clearance - Transfer fee - Air Freight - Duties - Inland transit to Finland - Insurance - Import Permit - Door To Door Delivery in Finland - ETC
We have greatly reduce the price of your customer shipment. We accept Wire transfer as a means of payment, you have to let us know when the goods will be ready for pick up in other to schedule a pick up for the shipment as we normally have a lot of shipment request.We can ship to any where in the world and we will be grateful to be at your service.Thank You and we hope to serve you.
We make it a simple task, Whatever the journey, Wherever in the world.
Thank you
Richard Kirk
Castle Shipping Limited - 474 7th Street, Wichita Falls, Texas 76301

As I thought the quote was little high, I contacted my Shipping agent who quoted me $860. I contacted Nathan about that, but he told me he was used to dealing with Castle Shipping and would rather pay full price for their great service... After all, it was his money !
   
Hello Frederic, 
Thanks so much for getting back to me with the cost of my order and shipping cost from Castle Shipping, am quite please with the cost of order and shipping cost from Castle Shipping,with Castle Shipping fee i wont be paying for any more tariff,tax or charges,also i sincerely appreciate you getting another shipping quote for me through DHL,there are some charges they don't pay for which i will have to pay when the goods get to Finland that why i want you to make use of Castle Shipping for the shipment,more over the shipping address is difficult to locate in Finland which has cost me lost of goods and goods been return so please feel free to make use of Castle Shipping. 
I will like to proceed with the order by sending you my valid US issued credit card details to charge for the order and shipping,please let me know the details you will need to process my credit card. 
Thanks 
Nat





I replied this was no problem but that I could not proceed his credit card directly and that he could pay me with his credit card through Paypal


Hello Nathan 
Like I told you from the beginning, I cannot process your credit card myself, however, you can use that credit card to pay me through Paypal. You just go to their site and enter my email address. I would rather you pay directly the shipping company, but I can do this for you if you would like to. 
Paypal is charging a 3.9 % fee to process the international transfer....

I finally received this answer :


Frederic,
Thanks so much for getting back to me with the final cost of my order, am quite please with the total cost, i will be please if you can get a close source of yours who has a credit card terminal machine to charge my credit card, i will be paying for the sub-charge fee for the charges,please bear with me on this i don't have an account with Pay Pal and it doesn't work on my credit card.  
Thanks 
Nat


Now this was a little strange. I was not going to go ask someone I knew to use their credit card terminal, so this was my answer to Nat :


Dear Nat
I should be able to use your credit card through Paypal myself. If you provide me with all details of your credit card, I can do this for you. I will need credit card number, name on card, billing address, expiration...





Since then, I have not heard from the little Weasel...



I am a modern mosaic artist with a studio in Headland, Alabama, USA and Saint Valery / Somme in Northern France. Although my work is mostly inspired by the Arts of Classical Rome and Greece I am also highly interested in modern artists working with unconventional materials. I enjoy sharing the latest news about them in this blog.

Veiled Black and White

If you enjoyed this post, please Subscribe to my Newsletter to get the last news about Materials, Techniques and Sources of Inspiration of modern and antique Mosaic Artists and Patrons!

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34 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this online! I was contacted by Nathan, and exactly the same story! Although this time the shipping company was from Illinois. The whole thing just seemed odd... So after searching for some time I came across this and safe to say I am glad I haven't taken the "deal" any further!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Frederick!
    I also was contacted by the notorious Nathan! I'm a collector and seller of vintage & antiques. He sent me an exact replica of the emails he sent you, as he couldn't be bothered to write anything original. I suspected he was a scammer from the start,and especially when he wanted me to pay shipping. A buyer pays shipping...not the seller! I sell mostly smalls, and I am my own shipping agent, with the assistance of my husband with packing larger items and postal drop offs. Here is a copy of the last email I sent him on 4/15/15, which of course he never answered! LOL
    Hi Nathan!
    I do not use the product code numbers from the cube cart, for items; buyers usually ask with the item name.
    I change the complete cost of the item, to include shipping to the overseas destination, which the customer pays through PayPal. I do not contact your agent for a shipping cost. I get that
    from the U.S.P.S., or UPS international. I am “selling”, so “you” pay to ship. I am always using Google...
    Vesakkotic 6719
    FI-00630 HELSINKI
    FINLAND

    is high in the search results.... http://mosaicblues.blogspot.com/2015/02/anatomy-of-tentative-scam.html with your name displayed!
    And...”everyone” now-a-days ‘has’ a PayPal account.
    Take care, Diane

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Frederick for posting this, I have also been contacted, but he used the name Nathaniel Crane and the email natcstore@gmail.com, but the same fake shipping company.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi we too have just been contacted by a Nathaniel crane from Helsinki - message was so badly worded we smelled a scam of some sort right away, glad to have found this post to confirm it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Was just contacted by Nathaniel Crane as well. Same natcstore@gmail.com address. His last email, which I'm not going to bother to respond to:

    Store Name:Natcstore
    Shipping Address:
    Vesakkotic 8432
    FI-00630 HELSINKI
    FINLAND

    Once i have the cost of the listed items stated below i will have my credit card details send to you to charge for the order and
    shipping.

    Thanks
    Nathaniel

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have also been contacted by "Nathaniel Crane" using the email: natcrallc@gmail.com
    --------------------------------------

    Hi Sales,

    I will like to make an inquiry for some of your items to my store in Finland,do you ship to Finland and also accept credit card?

    Regards

    Nathaniel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i was also contacted the other day by a finnish buyer: Troy Richards asking to purchase a large order of my terrariums. BEWARE and he also had his shipping company Castle Logistics as the front person.

      Delete
  7. One more happy business owner here!!! Thanks Frederic for posting this. I was contact by Nathaniel Crane with the same history, ones he could not provide a website and I can not find his NACRASTORE in Helsinki I knew something was funky with this guy.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the info, also contacted. Watch out for these contacts:

    Nathaniel Crane natcrallc@gmail.com
    Store Name:Nacrastore
    Shipping Address:
    Vesakkotic 5172
    FI-00630 HELSINKI
    FINLAND

    Richard Kirk castlexltd@outlook.com
    Castle Shipping Limited
    6003 N Scotts Ridge Rd
    Anderson
    Indiana
    46013

    ReplyDelete
  9. The odd phrasing and bad grammar from the American shipping company is another big red flag

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a Nigerian scam with no connections with any Finnish or US company. They use stolen credit cards from US banks and try to have funds transferred to a branch of First Convenience Bank (First National Bank of Texas) in Texas. The address for "Nathan" is also non existent in Finland. Even though Castle Shipping is a real company, they do not use agents or Richard Kirk or non company emails for business. Do a quick check on the email origination and maps of supposed locations. If they are not a real company warehouse (for shipping) or a real business address without the correct spelling then they are not a real operation. AVOID THESE EMAILS AT ALL COSTS...... THEY ARE SCAMS........ and NATIONALLY SPONSORED CRIMINALS...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sure I got a scam email from the same person/group. Now calling themselves Troy Richards, email troricllc@gmail.com. Initial email below;

    Hi Sales,

    I will like to make an inquiry for some of your items to my store in Finland,do you ship to Finland and also accept credit card?

    Regards
    Troy

    The order was insanely large, since I don't do wholesale, more than 500 pieces. I just sent this in reply.

    Hi Troy!

    That's a much bigger order than I usually ship, much less overseas. I'm not comfortable with a credit card transaction for that amount of merchandise, so a direct bank transfer would be better. Also, may I have a link to some information about your store? What do you normally sell?

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I got that exact email too. I've continued the conversation to see where it leads but I'm not sending a thing. "Troy" wanted to only pay via a manual credit card even though I told him about paypal for my international customers. He also doubled his order. Hmmm. I tried prodding him for more store info as well but he didn't respond.

      Delete
    2. got the same email from Troy Richards - troricllc@gmail.com. Thanks for the post.

      Delete
  12. watch for this one too
    Salvador Tovar [mailto:shakur1ng@gmail.com]

    ReplyDelete
  13. Also just got an email from troricllc@gmail.com Troy Richards
    and found this thread when I googled to investigate what store in Finland might possibly be inquiring. Thanks for posting everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I too received an email from Troy Richards from Finland wanting to order a large quantity scrapbook supplies, which isn't necessarily unusual for us, but something did not seem right as he was not willing to pay for the shipping directly. He wanted me to pay for it, then reimburse me. They quoted a freight cost without knowing how much the total product was, which would be impossible to calculate import taxes. Needless to say, the company who was allegedly doing the freight forwarding was someone out of the UK called Castle Logistic, and they were just as phony as Troy Richards. Do yourself a huge favor and avoid dealing with this individual/company.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just got the same email from Troy Richards for my business Wine Drizzle. When I did a web search I found this thread. Shipping contact was identical.! I am going to contact the FBI internet crimes division.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi, I just got a mail from Troy Richards trying to buy my product too. I am assuming it is a scam because of all the other posts here. Thanks you all for taking the time to post as it saved me from getting ripped off.

    ReplyDelete
  17. We too just received the same emails from "Troy" and "Castle Logistics" however Castle was addressed as Unit 18a Pompey Centre, P04 8ER Portmouth UK. it was still Ryan Kirk, but his email was caslogtic@outlook.com. Clearly Ryan has been moving around a lot!!
    Thanks everyone for taking the time to write here...it's saving us all a lot of trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Just received the same scam. Thank you so much for having this blog to help other artisans avoid this potential scam as well. I really appreciate it and did not go through with Troy Richards scam. I wish there was something we could do to stop this from happening to other people.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Same here with Troy Richards. Reporting as a scam. Thanks for your post.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you for your post. It has saved me a lot of headache.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hey guys,
    received this email as well from Troy Richards. Definitely a scam.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Troy Richards is still at it in August! His email address is now tridstoreinc@gmail.com and when I did a Google search for the company I mostly got optical patents. I am a wholesale yarn company selling knitting supplies and this email just seemed strange since I do not do a lot of international sales. I was happy to find this thread when I searched a little deeper. Thank you, Frederic!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I just got the same email from Troy Richards at the tridstoreinc email as shown above. We almost fell for a scam like this a year ago but things just didn't add up so we were lucky. I am skeptical now so go online and google name and email address so I appreciate you posting this information. we are a company that provides storage solutions to crafters so they go after many different types of businesses. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I sell handmade hats. I just got contacted with the same info only the names had been changed to Troy Richards from OJITESTORE in Finland and the shipping agent was Ryan Kirk from Castle Logistics Company. There is no OJITESTORE or company with that name in Finland. The Castle Logistics link on Ryan's signature does not work:

    Ryan Kirk
    Castle Logistic Company
    Unit 83 a Pompey Centre
    P04 8ER Portmouth
    UK
    www.castle-logistic-company.co.uk

    But if you google it, there is a Castle Logistics company. I'm pretty sure it's not the same company. (Who gets their own company website WRONG on their email signature?) I looked up the store, the shipping agent, google satellite mapped the addresses they provided me to see if businesses were there, checked linkedin for the store, the agent the shipping company and if the people named were associated with the company...NADA. I'm out!!! To think, I almost made all those hats! This scam must work some of the time if they are still at it. Thank you so much for posting. God bless you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you! Troy Richard with this address:
    Store Name:OJITESTORE
    Shipping Address:
    Lönnrotinkatu 578 D 76,
    FI-00180 Helsinki,
    Finland

    recently contacted my company for an order of shoes to be shipped from Florida to his "store" and payment by credit card...
    Reporting them to the government now!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just got the same email from Troy Richard for the same location as was noted on August 19:
    Store Name:OJITESTORE
    Shipping Address:
    Lönnrotinkatu 578 D 76,
    FI-00180 Helsinki,
    Finland

    Looks from Google Maps like it may be a hotel! He hasn't proposed his Castle Logistics shipping idea yet as I have just asked him for more information about his business, his web address, and the social media he uses. No response as yet but I clearly, also, will not be making all of those bags he said he wants. I have international stores that buy my products, but usually not the bags I make. I would love to add Finland to the list of countries where my retail customers can find my products. But this is clearly not the 'store' for me! So glad to find this posting and all of these comments tracking the efforts of this scammer. Thank you all!

    ReplyDelete
  27. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.

    international air freight & container shipping rates

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you for the info everyone! We too go the same email wanting to purchase from our LA Showroom which offers wholesale clothing for his "clothing" store in Finland. Sadly, we fell for it, wire transferring $1950 to his bank for shipping after he had us charge "his credit card" for $3100. After we did this, he increased his order and had us ask "Ryan Kirk" of Castle Logistics for new shipping charges, which now are $4200. Soon after, he provided TWO more credit cards with US zip codes. We began to feel uneasy and started researching, only to find this webpage. We work with so many accounts, a lot being international, so we didn't think to research before hand. Sadly, now my vendor is out of $1950. I share this in hopes to help others. And thank you all for sharing as well!

    ReplyDelete
  29. These guys are still at it...Edward Smith contacted me from Finland and wanted to use Castle Logistics Company...only this time it was Ryan Kirk. Everything else was basically copy/pasted. Thank you all for posting!

    ReplyDelete
  30. As a landscape painter, I am most indebted to you for posting info about this scam on your blog. I have just had an email back and forth with Edward Smith about purchasing some paintings, and this morning received one from the shipping company...with exactly the same wording as in your example. I don't think I would have proceeded further, but your blog stopped me cold. Thanks again. larrygrobartist.com

    ReplyDelete
  31. I just got an e-mail right along this same pattern at my place of business! From pjohnsonn199@gmail.com:

    Hello,

    My name is Paul Johnson Am willing to make some purchase of some items with your company and ship to Finland. Before we proceed can you please answer the question below.

    1. Do you have a POS machine to charge credit card 2. Do you accept master and visa credit card payment 3. Do you accept private pick up by our forwarder 4.Can you send me your price sheet or cataloge

    Kindly email me if this is possible to ship to Finland

    Respectful,
    Paul

    Stay safe out there!

    ReplyDelete