For my fellow Wedding Industry Friends...Protecting Yourself from Scams

This summer I started getting calls at the shop from TTY operators. TTY is an operator service for the hearing-impaired. The caller types their message and the operator reads it to you and then types back your response.

In this case the caller asks to speak with the manager or owner and asks for the price for 4 large arrangements for their brother's wedding. Colors should be bright summer colors and arrangements should be 24" wide and 36" tall and can be $200-300 each that will be picked up by a courier, delivered out of state paid for by credit card. [They provide lots of detail about the circumstances that makes it feel real.] Yesterday a call came in with a new request: 9 dozen roses arranged separately. Ultimately the caller will give you a credit card and ask you to charge an extra amount [usually around $1,000] and then wire that money via Western Union to the courier to cover their expenses. Of course this is a scam.

After talking with a friend at the Vermont State Police I learned that these types of scams are pervasive. The calls are originating overseas...usually Nigeria and are routed here. TTY technology means the callers don't actually have to speak...but simply type from a script that has been slightly tweaked to appear legitimate. The caller might say they live in a nearby town and they will use a stolen credit card and/or identity from a someone who lives locally.

In a test to see how far they would go I was able to get a credit card and personal information from the "caller." It belonged to a person who in fact lives in Addison County, Vermont. The phone number they provided was legitimate and fortunately I was able to speak with this person and alert her to the fact that someone was using her identity.

Just today a friend contacted me about an email she received...it's a similar scam targeting wedding planners. Click here to read more about it.

Unfortunately in this day and age we just have to keep a sharp eye out and trust our gut when something doesn't seem right. A quick Google search usually confirms a scam pretty quickly. Better to scope it out upfront before investing your valuable time and energy.

Some tips:

-Don't accept cashiers checks...or allow extra time for the check to be verified.

-Don't send money to vendors on behalf of someone you haven't met or talked with directly. Don't make payments without signed contracts.

-Don't wire money by Western Union to anyone you haven't met in person or know personally. Western Union has become a superhighway for moving drug and other crime related monies.

-Insist on secure payments.

You can report internet scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and contact your State Attorney General's office.

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