As a Chicago-area computer firm, we regularly receive emails containing bid requests from complete strangers. In nearly every case the request is fraudulent and the individual making the request is merely trying to get some unsuspecting computer dealer to part with a bunch of expensive materials in exchange for payment from a credit card that later turns out to be fraudulent. Any guess who takes the hit when the fraud becomes evident? You guessed it, the merchant (i.e. me)!
But the request I received last week really stood out. It had a striking air of legitimacy about it, and I really wanted it to be true. Who doesn't want to make a sale, right? Here is the story.
I received a visit on my website from Kaleb Abelon from the Procurement Team at Renox Designs. My analytics (which I happened to observe in real-time) showed that he was directed to us from an authorized reseller link on HP's website. So far so good. Kaleb said the following:
Hello, Renox Designs is looking to purchasing HP or LENOVO laptops.let me know the availability of any item you would be recommending and the price per unit. Configuration details Processor : Intel(R) Core) i7 Memory: 8GB Display: [14-inch Hard drive: 256GB Solid State Drive. Touch screen is a plus. Kaleb Abelon Procurement Team RENOX DESIGNS 1580 S Milwaukee Ave suite 702, Libertyville, IL 60048 Ph:847-235-4808. Tol:8664421929 Kaleb@renoxdesigns.com www.renoxdesigns.com
Okay... here is my first impression:
- The grammar is a bit flaky
- The details are a bit sparse
- The local phone number doesn't have a reverse lookup - appears to be Google Voice (or similar)
- The only Google search results point back to their website, along with some generic business-finder sites
Still, I wanted it to be true so I replied to his email from my CRM with a tracked message:
- Few specifics
- The portfolio contains stock images
- The short YouTube videos contain no narration and have no followers
- The "team" consist of four people who are a smidge too handsome
- Two of the team members have the first name "Mathew" - an uncommon spelling of Matthew.
- None of the handsome team members have LinkedIn pages
- The website is hosted in Lagos Nigeria
- The email is hosted on the web server, rather than Office 365, a U.S. IP address, or G-Suite