I discovered a scam while researching methods to develop new ideas. Like many people, I have ideas but unsure how to make them real products. I found firms offering research, prototype development and marketing services for inventions. I decided to run a few ideas through the top advertised firm on Google known as Davison Design & Development.
Experience with Davison
Davison presents itself as a successful invention firm. Their website has customer quotes, products they brought to market (see HERE) and videos from popular TV shows like Lifetime’s The Balancing Act (see HERE). If you search Google for Davison customer feedback, you will find endless complaints and lawsuits. I question Davison about the negative feedback and was provided rebuttal videos targeting the Better Business Bureau as a means to defuse the bad press (see HERE).
I submitted two ideas under different aliases to put Davison to the test. The first idea is something I believe is great while the other is ridiculous and should be discarded. I filled out an online form for both ideas and eventually spoke with a sales rep. One interesting part of the process is Davison requires users to accept that they have reviewed Davison’s success rate. As you can see, they are open about how unlikely they can bring your idea to market. My gut tells me this protects Davison from future lawsuits.
Users Must Agree Before Submitting Ideas (click to enlarge)
A few months ago I posted about two craigslist scam attempts from adds I listed (go HERE to read). I recently had a few more craigslist scam attempts and noticed a pattern between the different methods to con me. Here are a few Red Flags for scams on craigslist or other merchant websites.
Flag 1: Want your item right away
I noticed the scammers never ask any REAL questions about what’s for sale. For example, I recently listed a glass table and received “I’ll take it, where do I send the check” request regardless of size, weight, looks, etc. Same thing happened when I listed a car. Real buyers ask questions before offering payment.
Flag 2: Location location location?
It seems like con artists believe people don’t have knowledge about the world. I had one guy claim he lived in Canada yet sent me a Utah credit union money order post marked from Spain. Uh huh … you were on holiday in Spain using money orders from a Utal account you never closed due to great service? The con artist ignored any questions and kept insisting I cash the money order. I recently had one scammer ship me a check without paying the postage. What a cheap con #$#@#$#@! At least have the decency to pay for the shipping so I can see the fake check! Come on!
Flag 3: Overpay for goods
The con is always about overpaying for goods and banking on the victim paying the difference. For larger items such as a car, the extra money is for “shipping”. For smaller items such as a table, the extra payment “was a return” which I’m suppose to wire the difference. I’ve noticed the scammers tend to send extra funds without initial notification and later justify things with an excuse to wire money. The most recent one was insane. I listed a table for $800 and received a check for $4,500! Everything looked pretty real minus they forgot the water mark. They get a B-
Flag 4: Engrish … I mean English
Most craigslist con artists seem to use language converting software to write emails. First sign is most emails are one or two long paragraphs, which makes sense if you copy and paste into a language converting software. Second flag is spelling and grammatical structure is off, which again is a sign of the use of language converting software. Scammers also love throwing in things like “god bless you” and capitalizing key phrases such as CASHIERS CHECK and MONEY TRANSFER.
Flag 5: Western Union … the fastest way to steal money
Craigslist con artist always ask to wire money though western union (or similar service). The game is having a fake check or money order look real enough to clear in a bank for a few weeks. This gives the con artist enough time to fool the victim into believing the payment is legit so they wire back funds before things bounce. One easy way to confirm things is to call the bank that issued the check to verify its authenticity. If you mention Western Union is involved to the teller, they usually will laugh and say its fake before running a trace in their system.
I personally had two craiglist scams attempted on me last week via a PayPal email scam and cashier’s check scam. The background story is I just purchased a new car (fist pump!) and attempted to sell my old car on craiglist. I posted it and received two fishy emails, which common sense screamed SCAM however I played things out for the sake of education and my blog readers.
Scam 1: I received an email asking about the car. After some basic emails the person said they will take it. I ask about seeing it and get back “I need a favor, I got a message from the pick up agent H/Q in the US that I need to pay a commission of about $900 before the pickup. It’s a private shipper agent, which can only take western union. All I need from you is to include fees and assure me that you can help me wire the agent. There isn’t any western unions around here or I would do it”. I say fine and the person asks for my paypal email. I tell him it’s my gmail and 30 minutes later I get the email below. His Canadian address made me laugh (not shown). So here is the scam. First off, the email just stinks. Paypal wouldn’t say things like “don’t worry about things just go ahead and WIRE MONEY”. The email address looks legit however spoofed (I wish I had my ironport setup to verify the sender’s location). I logged into my paypal and found zero dollars and no history of the transaction. I called paypal and confirmed they never deal with western union and my account doesn’t show the history of the transaction. I forwarded the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and asked the guy “why is paypal not showing the funds in my account?”. No reply … busted!
To summarize the scam, the target was $900 dollars. The scam artist attempted to convince me that I had money held by paypal that would be released once I wired the commission to a bogus private shipper. The real buyer of my car told me his friend had the exact same scam attempted when he posted his iphone. Email is easy to spoof so be careful!
SCAM 2: This scam was for more money and more elaborate. The same scenario happened however the email used VERY poor English. The person was also from Canada and didn’t need to see the car. This time I’m told the person represents an agent who was already paid by his client $5,000 more than my asking price. He offers to pay via cashier’s check, which I’m asked to wire the difference plus another $900.00 for shipping costs. I say fine mail me the check and receive a check 10 days later. The letter was post marked from Spain and contained an Utal Community Credit Union check. How AWESOME is this? I’m suppose to believe a Canadian went to Utal to get a cashier’s check and while on vacation in Spain mail it to me? Hmmm. I ask about things and later told the shipping agent is in Spain. Ok so a Canadian is contracting a Spanish shipping company to pick up my US car? Hmmm?
So the target here is $5,900.00 dollars. The scam artist hopes I cash the check and after it clears, mail him the difference before it bounces. Most likely it would take a week or so to get flagged, which is enough time for the victim to mail out the $5,900.00. I called the Utal Credit Union hotline and confirmed it was fake.
Don’t trust people on craiglist. There are many scam artists fishing for suckers