If you've been in business for a while, the chances are you've come across persons of debatable moral standing who have tried to steal some of your hard earned money through fraud or con tricks. We will periodically publish examples of these scams on this page in an effort to make you the small business owner aware of them and hopefully prevent you from becoming a victim. The business world is competitive enough for us not wanting our meagre profits being stolen by con men. The new scams will be featured in our newsletters so we strongly recommend that you register for the newsletter so that you don't miss any. Information is power.
If you have been a victim of some form of theft or fraud, let us know so that we can warn others.
The "refund payment” scam.
This scam became quite prevalent in South Africa in early 2006.
How it works: A customer will place an order for goods or services. He will then make a payment directly into your account. Shortly thereafter he will phone you to apologise and inform you that in error he paid you too much. For example if the order was for R1300, he may have paid R13000. He would then ask you to please refund him the difference of (in this example) R11700. When you check your bank statement you will indeed see that a payment of R13000 was made and so like a good honest citizen you transfer the balance back to him. If you try and delay repaying him he will become more insistent saying that he needs to pay wages or some other excuse. The next day your bank statement will inform you that his R13000 payment has bounced as it was in fact a stolen cheque (regardless of what his proof of payment fax may of said) and you are now R11700 poorer.
How to prevent it: Take the time to phone your bank and ask if it a cheque or cash deposit whenever you have a suspicious first time sale that follows the above chain of events. Never do refunds to new bank accounts or customers (even if they say they are from SARS!) until after say 7 days so that you can verify the payment has cleared. Simple, but very effective in saving you frustrating set backs. It is better to wait a few days to verify this deposit rather than run the risk of losing your money