Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington has issued a warning about con artists perpetuating a prepayment shipping scheme through fake orders, distant destinations and non-existent shipping companies.

Scammers, disguised as buyers, convince businesses to pay transport costs upfront to designated shipping companies. Businesses are then told to charge buyers’ credit cards for the total cost of shipping.
After completing transactions, business owners soon find that the credit cards are declined, their “buyers” have disappeared and the shipping companies can’t be reached. The con artists pocket the stolen shipping fees.

For businesses faced with a possible prepayment shipping scam, BBB recommends asking a few key questions:

• Who? Be wary if the buyer insists on a “trusted” shipping company and provides few order details. If considering the sale, research shipping regulations for the destination and use a licensed, trustworthy shipping company.  

• What? Businesses dealing in heavy materials, like flooring or lumber, should be on high alert. Scammers seek out weighty materials, hoping to capitalize on higher shipping costs.

• Why? Paying thousands of dollars in unnecessary shipping costs goes against common sense and reason. Ask the potential buyer why they aren’t purchasing material closer to their destination.