Chicago IT Support Blog

The Anatomy of a Recent Fraud Attempt

Posted by Steven Thom on Mar 30, 2017 12:18:53 PM

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:

Kaleb,
Thanks for reaching out. Would you like Windows 10 Professional on the laptops? Also, roughly what quantity are you looking to purchase. And are you okay with one-year warranty, three years, or upwards of five years? Lastly, do you require accidental damage coverage for drops, spills, etc.
Steve
He opened it within 4 minutes... from Lagos, Nigeria. Boom.
 
So now the hunt was on. What more can I learn about my friend Kaleb Abelon from Renox Designs? I checked out the website and wow, it's actually pretty nice. I like the WordPress theme so much I think I will try it myself. For all intents and purposes this is a legitimate company. But note the following:
  • 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
Okay, the honeymoon is over. But I had to keep digging...
 
First, they have no corporation in the state of Illinois:
 
Renox Designs
 
Second, the suite number for the Illinois office is 702, yet confirmed in the local "Loopnet" commercial real estate site, the building appears to have six floors, :
 
Renox Designs
 
The kicker - I had lunch with my friend Chad Jewett of CMJ Technologies yesterday and they received the same lead. They didn't fall for it either.
 
So rather than Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware), let's go with Caveat Venditor instead, or "let the seller beware". It's my hope that this page will show up in search results for this bogus firm and those who do their research will benefit from my sleuthing. I can't imagine how many others have already been victimized. For the record, I called my local FBI field office but they were not interested since I was not defrauded. I also requested an in-person meeting with Mr. Abelon but he did not reply. I really wanted to see his office! 

Topics: chicago computer support, chicago IT support, Chicago PC Support, PCI, Security, cybersecurity, fraud, cybertheft

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