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I am getting some requests for large orders to places like Puerto Rico and Haiti.   They are asking for a freight quote and I get one but tell them I am only willing to arrange FOB sales.   Before I move forward on this, I wanted to check with others to see if they have had any experience with similar orders.  I am always suspicious.  However, I do know that these places are in need of hand sanitizer. 

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I've been getting a lot of these since early May.  Usually they lose interest once I tell them they have to figure out their own freight (since they seem to be from companies I can't verify exist and they want me to use shipping companies that don't seem to exist).  I've started ignoring them.  It has to be some sort of scam, not sure how, but like you said, seems suspicious and not worth my time.

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3 hours ago, Glenlyon said:

These are scams. We were hit with one of these last year. We figured it out in the nick of time or we would have lost over $11,000.

It seems like that might be the case.  However, I wonder if these are people that know they can make some money repackaging the bulk order.   Puerto Rico and Haiti for example. 

I told them that I would only do the deal FOB... that they would have to pay for an take responsibility for the shipping.  Two of them gave me a freight contact where I requested a quote based on the shipment dimensions and weight.  The quote came back and I copied the requestor and told them that they would need to pay the freight and pay me in advance of the order being filled.   If a scam I am guessing I will not hear from them again. 

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I’ve had to buy a lot of equipment from USA as well as China and India. Usually it’s pretty easy working with everyone except USA or Australia. Both are quite xenophobic with regards to shipping overseas. 
 

as an American I certainly understand there are plenty of scams around but perhaps I can offer some perspective for potential sellers. 
 

payments:

-in many nondeveloped countries It can be very very difficult to get a credit or even debit card that works internationally.  When we can they often require us to deposit the amount of the credit line in said bank, then get approvals from not only the tax agency but the bank for each transaction.  Further, these transactions also come with percentage fees. Further still exchange rates that are 5% or more below international market rates are common. 
 

to complicate matters further some countries don’t have zip codes meaning that many vendors can’t or won’t process the card anyway.   I specifically remember dealing with Home Depot for three weeks trying to get them to process payment on a large order.  They couldn’t do a card or even a wire transfer for us. 
 

- wire transfers or TT are the norm internationally. The seller will typically provide wire details and the buyer will send money. Of course there is a great deal of trust on the buyers pet and they really have no recourse should the seller crap out. 
   CONVERSELY the seller giving out wire details incurs almost no risk these days. With two factor authentication and security measures it’s almost impossible to get money out of that account. as a scammer (without the seller giving it willingly).  I ran in to this quite a bit, where mom and pop sellers were super paranoid of even taking my direct overseas calls much less making a sale or giving wire instructions.  For them , all overseas transactions were a scam. 
 

- most overseas payments will require the buyer or wirer to show the bank or tax agency an invoice with payment instructions. This is copied and stamped and kept on file to ensure proper taxes are paid in their country. IT IS NECESSARY TO PROVIDE THIS to your customer so they can pay.   If you are asked to fudge the Numbers a bit on the SHIPPING documents it normally can help reduce taxation on the buyers side.  Never do this before you have received the proper payment on a proper invoice.  Shipping invoices are commonly different than payment invoices. It becomes the issue of the buyer to reconcile that with their tax authorities.  Really up to you if you will help them this way tho. It’s ok to say no. 
 

shipping:

 Normally when I buy in china I will ask them to either give me a freight quote to the main port in Fiji. This is super normal for them and super easy for me.  They get it to Fiji then my guy here handles the rest and delivers to me. Easy. 
 

    In the USA I typically will place orders and have it sent to a freight forwarder whom I deal with directly from here in Fiji.  This makes it easy for mom and pop to ship nationally without the fear or hassle of filling customs documents. 
 

in Australia when I order, if it’s not a well versed company in international orders I will just go to New Zealand. They are just much easier to deal with in general. 
 

my suggestions to USA sellers to overseas clients:

 

listen to them and get a feel for who you are talking To.  Many times accents or language barriers are a problem but give them a chance.   They have money and understand that USA cost more than China and are willing to pay for it. Let them. 
 

apply a filter. If they call, ask for a follow up email or vice versa.  With China I find that if a company  is responsive with my emails and quick to provide quotes that they are usually very good with shipping, questions afterwards.  If it takes days to answer an inquiry and a week to provide a quote then shipping will be slow and after sale service will be poor.  Your buyer is judging you on this as well. 
 

offer to accept a wire transfer or card payment but wait until it FULLY clears to ship. 

 

Offer to ship to a USA based freight forwarder at their expense. 
 

It’s really helpful to the buyer if you can quote shipment to a port in their country. I Don’t do “door to door” quotes. They are usually overpriced and can be a hassle if you arrange it.   Shipping to a place like Fiji is relatively easy your freight guy comes and picks up the order then gets it to the docks. Then it arrive here and I take over with my guy. My freight agent gets all the details and makes it all happen. He can also work with your agent directly easily. It’s what they do. 
 

things I would not do:

don’t pay for anything or become responsible for anything that has not been covered in full by their payment to you. 
 

dont screw over a buyer.  If they pay you then do what you said. If you can’t then refund their money honorably 

 

and don’t be afraid to answer the phone or email. Set conditions like I mention above. If they agree then fine. If there is something weird or payment this not forthcoming then bail early.  Set a price, provide an invoice and wiring instructions then let it happen. 

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13 minutes ago, FijiSpirits said:

I’ve had to buy a lot of equipment from USA as well as China and India. Usually it’s pretty easy working with everyone except USA or Australia. Both are quite xenophobic with regards to shipping overseas. 
 

as an American I certainly understand there are plenty of scams around but perhaps I can offer some perspective for potential sellers. 
 

payments:

-in many nondeveloped countries It can be very very difficult to get a credit or even debit card that works internationally.  When we can they often require us to deposit the amount of the credit line in said bank, then get approvals from not only the tax agency but the bank for each transaction.  Further, these transactions also come with percentage fees. Further still exchange rates that are 5% or more below international market rates are common. 
 

to complicate matters further some countries don’t have zip codes meaning that many vendors can’t or won’t process the card anyway.   I specifically remember dealing with Home Depot for three weeks trying to get them to process payment on a large order.  They couldn’t do a card or even a wire transfer for us. 
 

- wire transfers or TT are the norm internationally. The seller will typically provide wire details and the buyer will send money. Of course there is a great deal of trust on the buyers pet and they really have no recourse should the seller crap out. 
   CONVERSELY the seller giving out wire details incurs almost no risk these days. With two factor authentication and security measures it’s almost impossible to get money out of that account. as a scammer (without the seller giving it willingly).  I ran in to this quite a bit, where mom and pop sellers were super paranoid of even taking my direct overseas calls much less making a sale or giving wire instructions.  For them , all overseas transactions were a scam. 
 

- most overseas payments will require the buyer or wirer to show the bank or tax agency an invoice with payment instructions. This is copied and stamped and kept on file to ensure proper taxes are paid in their country. IT IS NECESSARY TO PROVIDE THIS to your customer so they can pay.   If you are asked to fudge the Numbers a bit on the SHIPPING documents it normally can help reduce taxation on the buyers side.  Never do this before you have received the proper payment on a proper invoice.  Shipping invoices are commonly different than payment invoices. It becomes the issue of the buyer to reconcile that with their tax authorities.  Really up to you if you will help them this way tho. It’s ok to say no. 
 

shipping:

 Normally when I buy in china I will ask them to either give me a freight quote to the main port in Fiji. This is super normal for them and super easy for me.  They get it to Fiji then my guy here handles the rest and delivers to me. Easy. 
 

    In the USA I typically will place orders and have it sent to a freight forwarder whom I deal with directly from here in Fiji.  This makes it easy for mom and pop to ship nationally without the fear or hassle of filling customs documents. 
 

in Australia when I order, if it’s not a well versed company in international orders I will just go to New Zealand. They are just much easier to deal with in general. 
 

my suggestions to USA sellers to overseas clients:

 

listen to them and get a feel for who you are talking To.  Many times accents or language barriers are a problem but give them a chance.   They have money and understand that USA cost more than China and are willing to pay for it. Let them. 
 

apply a filter. If they call, ask for a follow up email or vice versa.  With China I find that if a company  is responsive with my emails and quick to provide quotes that they are usually very good with shipping, questions afterwards.  If it takes days to answer an inquiry and a week to provide a quote then shipping will be slow and after sale service will be poor.  Your buyer is judging you on this as well. 
 

offer to accept a wire transfer or card payment but wait until it FULLY clears to ship. 

 

Offer to ship to a USA based freight forwarder at their expense. 
 

It’s really helpful to the buyer if you can quote shipment to a port in their country. I Don’t do “door to door” quotes. They are usually overpriced and can be a hassle if you arrange it.   Shipping to a place like Fiji is relatively easy your freight guy comes and picks up the order then gets it to the docks. Then it arrive here and I take over with my guy. My freight agent gets all the details and makes it all happen. He can also work with your agent directly easily. It’s what they do. 
 

things I would not do:

don’t pay for anything or become responsible for anything that has not been covered in full by their payment to you. 
 

dont screw over a buyer.  If they pay you then do what you said. If you can’t then refund their money honorably 

 

and don’t be afraid to answer the phone or email. Set conditions like I mention above. If they agree then fine. If there is something weird or payment this not forthcoming then bail early.  Set a price, provide an invoice and wiring instructions then let it happen. 

Good points.  But, I don't think this is xenophobia (at least I hope not).  It's more like multiple red flags flying all at once.  "I'm from company so and so from where and where" and I google it and it doesn't exist (at least according to Google).  "Please use my trusted shipper from Somewhere, USA" with a random Gmail email address and I google that, and the shipping company doesn't exist as far as I can tell.  It's, "what credit cards do you accept", not will you take cash, ACH, EFT, Wire, etc.

The first couple times I gave the benefit of a doubt and it crashed when I wanted them to arrange things with their own "trusted" shipper.  And then when I got identical initial/exploratory emails from the same "person" a couple months later... I'm like, don't you remember our conversation.  No, this is a scam, I'm not sure how it works, but it stinks.

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We called the scam - The Shipping Scam. The way it worked was....

The foreign buyer would order a shipment that would require some packaging - on a pallet or some such. Of course, you are interested in the order because of the size potential and because the buyer suggests further sales. You negotiate and agree on the cost of the goods. Then the buyer says they have a shipping company they use and who knows them. OK. As per the client's request you send the aforementioned shipping company the shipment details and they will respond with two quotes - a slow trip and a fast trip - the difference between the two quotes is not that large - and so you inform the buyer and the buyer will respond that they want the fastest shipping possible - so, the higher amount. And, the shipping company wants to be paid up front via wire transfer. So, if you send the (fake) shipping company the money - it's gone in a heartbeat. The only reason we survived this experience was the buyer foolishly used a stolen credit card to 'pay' for he overall order - but by then, we had already sent the shipping funds. Fortunately, the wire transfer failed and we were able to recover the funds. Dumb luck really - but it opened our eyes and we are relentlessly vigilant these days.

 

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The reason the scam works is that there is a time difference from when you are paid by the buyer to when the CC company reviews the transaction. So, the buyer's money is in your bank - you are happy and so you are inclined to pay the shipping company. The buyer is stressing time is of the essence and so you are inclined to hustle to make them happy.  Meanwhile 10 - 24 hours later, the CC company realizes they have been screwed with a stolen credit card and they take the money back from you. The difference - the cost of shipping (usually $4000 - 5,000) is the score for the scammer. And because you accepted a stolen credit card, another whole pile of shit develops because the CC company doesn't care about you they care about the credit card holder. And so the loss is ultimately yours. The only upside is that you won't likely actually lose any product.

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