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Online Scam Targeting Small Roasteries Throughout the United States

Scam-1

A scam is targeting small coffee roasters throughout the country, asking for a 250-pound bulk coffee order. Daily Coffee News has confirmed that multiple micro-roasteries have been sent versions of the following e-mail, coming from someone identifying himself as David Walters of Walters & Sons Ltd., or as Mark Curny:

My name is  David Walters of  Walters & Son’s Ltd and would like to know if you carry Coffee Beans.  If you do I would like purchase some coffee for some Orphanage Home and cafe consumption, below is the qty and type of coffee am interested in:

5lb French Dark Roast  = Qty: 25bags (125lbs)
5lb  Colombian  =  Qty: 25bags (125lbs)

I would like you to email me back with the total pick up price plus tax on the quantity of 50bags ( 250lbs ) , excluding shipping. Is there a surcharge on the use of Visa or MaterCard for payment ? What brand of coffee do you grow or house ? Your prompt reply will be gladly appreciated and email me back with your phone number so that we can proceed .

Urgently waiting to hear from you soon.
Walters & Son’s Ltd
Ph : 661-XXX-XXXX (omitted by editor)

The 661 area code listed covers the majority of California’s Kern County, as well as some of Los Angeles county. It is associated with a Google Voice account (Google Voice allows users to link phone numbers with any area codes to mobile devices or through online calls through Gmail).

After numerous phone calls, Daily Coffee News contacted a man at that number, who indeed identified himself as David Walters and said he was interested in buying 250 pounds worth of roasted coffee for an orphanage. When asked how many roasteries he had contacted, the man replied “None. Maybe one or two.” When asked about the details of his company or the orphanage, the man replied “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and hung up, not returning subsequent calls or emails.

Scott Warner, owner of the year-old West Des Moines roastery Corazon Coffee Roasters, told Daily Coffee News that he played along with the scam to test its legitimacy. He replied to the e-mail and eventually established phone contact with Walters, proposing an $1,875 offer for the roasted coffee, minus shipping charges. Warner says the man was oddly aggressive in wanting to get the order done.

“He didn’t want to talk about the coffee or anything,” Warner says. “Usually when someone was buying something, they are going to be more coy. He was acting like he wanted to sell me something. He really wanted to get a deal done.”

The deal stalled when Walters insisted that Warner contact a fictitious company called Blue Ocean Delivery Service for a shipping quote. A website for Blue Oyster Delivery Service says the company is based in the tiny village of Saint Henry, Ohio. The phone number listed is also associated with a Google account. Multiple attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful.

“For some reason, it was really important to him that I get a quote from that shipper — he was very eager,” says Corazon’s Warner. “I’d hate to see someone roast 250 pounds of beans thinking they have a buyer on the other end.”

Comment

54 Comments

Alex Collins

We’ve been getting at least one email a week in a very similar tone, from differing names, emails, companies, etc., but always the same quantities of coffee. We also played along at one point and they insisted we use their shipper, at which point we decided to cease contact.

Best,
Alex Collins
LAMILL Coffee

Tim

Yep. just got one for 250lbs of “Columbian” coffee for a cafe and some hotels. Didn’t seem write from the start.

Tim
Entimos Coffee Roasters

Tamas

We got one as well from “Mark Curny” requesting “Columbian” or Guatemalan coffee in the amount of 350lbs to ship to Puerto Rico via Kosmos Logistics

Marshall Fuss

What’s the payoff for the scammer? At some point do they ask the roaster to advance shipping charges to the fictitious shipper?

Augusto@Nossa Familia

I think the pay off is that they will ask you to pay the shipper (an account they control) and then that you can then included that shipping amount on the invoice. But once you pay the shipping company upfront, they disappear. We got a similar request at Nossa Familia Coffee two weeks ago.

I have a bakery customer that lost $1,000 in a similar scam on a fictitious wedding cake order.

Folks, if its too easy and too good to be true….
….its likely a scam…

Chris

Same thing happened up here in Toronto, but it was less sophisticated. They wanted us to ship to Puerto Rico and pay shipping. Phone number was from California. I tried to string him along for as long as possible once I figured out what was up, because I remembered reading about a guy who tricked the scammers into paying them instead. Alas, he got wise and stopped emailing.

Jen

We get at least two or three of these a week from our “Contact us” page. Same as others have mentioned–want to use their own shipping company. We’ve also heard from “Mark Curny,” Tamas.

Brian Meyers@Batdorf&Bronson

I received a very similar email the other day and immediately deleted it, knowing it must be a scam.

Kenneth

David Walters contacted us on the 7/11/12 (11/7/13) for the same, his shipping charges would have been a lot as we are in the England (UK)

Coffee Primero

We got the same email from a “Harry Stedman” supposedly in Puerto Rico. When we told him that the freight was on him and that he was also responsible for Ochratoxin and mold testing, that stopped the emails. I’m quite sure it was a freight cost scam. (Unless the big roasters are trying to hurt the little guys. HaHa)

Georgio’s Coffee Roasters

This guy has been emailing us once a month, does not return emails or phone calls. It is pretty obvious from the start that something is not right.
Georgio

Alex

Had the same thing happen to us in Chicago.

Company stated they were in florida and then they wanted a quote from some company that I searched up and found to be a scam.

They wanted the product delivered to Puerto Rico.

Same thing, 250 lb order that didn’t seem right.

Haden

Yep – it happens to us once a week. My question is, what is it about the coffee roasting business that makes us a mark for the money laundering scheme?

Lisa L.

The same exact person contacted us twice now…As soon as we told him that we don’t use other carriers and we would ship it UPS he never contacted us again.
Crazy people!

D. Walters

Here’s the scam as we’ve seen it: a bulk coffee order is requested and a shipping quote received. There is a last minute change of plans; the person ordering has other products he’s ordering from the vicinity, so a colleague will be picking the order up to collectively ship with other items. Oh, can we just add $700 to the credit card transaction and give that amount to the person in cash along with the product to pay for shipping and other costs? Samples? Flavor profiles? No need, just roast and package the coffee, charge the card, hand it over to their agent.

Of course, there is no order, and the credit card used is stolen. All contacts are vapor. We strung one along for a while to ferret out their plans and try to get the scammer’s identity. Phone calls to Ghana and Holland and several emails later, they finally figured out our ploy and disappeared.

Anything like this will be a scam, every time.

Sarah

Yes, we almost fell for this last year. They wanted us to wire money to their “shipper” before shipping. When I said we will use our own shipper because that was sketchy they stopped returning our calls. And we keep getting similar emails.

JohnnyRoaster

We get a couple of these a week. It is a standard freight forwarding scam. They target all sorts of businesses and anybody selling on Craig’s list. It seems like roasters are a fairly new target.

Brandon Fraka

I’m the roaster for Bittersweet Cafe in Oakland and the FIRST time I was contacted by someone using this scam was by a John cole whose phone number put him in Sacramento, whose first credit card number put it in Florida but got declined, whose second credit card number put it in Hawaii, whose third credit card number, which would likely have also been actually registered to a John Cole, according to Visa, we never found out because finally I cut off contact after deciding that this effort definitely was not worth the 250 pounds of espresso he wanted shipped through his service to Puerto Rico.

Stephan vonKolkow

We (Cafe Virtuoso in San Diego) have received multiple versions of this email/scam from different names asking usually for either 250 lb or 500 lb. We have also received phone calls along the same line. The scam, as I understand it is to use a credit card and then issue a charge back against your account – for a larger number than you charged them.

John Bellomo

Had this scam played on me, I got the email then they wanted me to use their shipping company, they wanted me to pay the shipping via cashiers check after they paid by credit card. Since the money is there you think ok! But they puts hold on payment until the person receives it so when they receive your cashiers check you lose immediately. Now I played along the scam and told them after conferring with my attorney that an order of this size would require a contract and their first payment needed to be in the form of a cashiers check..Never heard back. Reported it to the FBI.

Robert

I work for a company that has nothing to do with coffee, but we do sell wax packaging. I just received this exact email from Mr. David Walters, and was unable to reach him by phone through his google voice. I wanted to say thank you to the Daily Coffee News for allowing me to catch this guy before he wasted anymore of our time, as he to contacted us through our website. I will still attempt to play along with his scam so that I can see if I can get a physical address for the guy so that we can get him into some actual trouble. People like this are pathetic, and need to do what the rest of us do, which is get up and make an honest living. Thanks again everyone!

Michael

Received the exact same email and was going through the same process. This was the first email we received from stedmanharry44@gmail.com:

“I am Harry Stedman,looking to order some coffee for your company.I will like to place an order of 50bags, 5lb Medium roast (250lbs) .I would appreciate it a lot if you email me the total of my order so that I will follow up to provide you my necessary ordering information for us to proceed with shipping and payment.What form of payment do you accept?
I will look forward to your email.Let me know if you carry different samples of coffee products
Thanks,Harry.”

He said it was going to be distributed to selected hotels in Puerto Rico, and asked us to use Expedited World Shipping to deliver to a Roberto Sanchez.

Thank you Daily Coffee News for posting this article and the people commenting for assurance of this being a scam.

Robert

These people are absolutely ridiculous if they think a normal thinking person is going to fall for a broken english email stating they want to purchase something. Basically if anyone is wanting to purchase something from your company and states that they want to use a third party freight, it means that they are attempting to scam you. Please be careful, as they are targeting not just specific small businesses, but ones that have a online quote request.

Greenberry’s Coffee Co.

We’ve been hit up by the scammers a few times now. Spoke with one on the phone and it sounded like he was calling from a wind tunnel. I think I’ll just hold out for my long lost cousin in Nigeria, he promised me his fortune. *Fingers Crossed*

Philip Brown / PERC Coffee

I’ve been getting these from different names and companies for about two years. They seemed odd so I never responded. I read this article and it reminded me of the scammy emails, so I looked in my spam box and saw them all. I received another email last night and responded for the first time ever to tell them that I read about their scam in roast magazine and that they were famous! I’ll let you know if they respond.

Ian

This scam is continuing, as we received the email today. Thank you for posting this article. Any advice on how we should handle this? He provided his most recent phone number…

Dahtone Coffee

Just received this email from David Walters requesting to buy French dark roast and Colombian coffee beans, it looked like a SCAM then I came across the daily coffee news article which confirmed that it is a scam.

Thanks for the great article .

Rakesh

We have had similar scamers come about lately. We had a guy from Puerto Rico contact us wanting to purchase coffee beans. He asked for the price didn’t negotiate and wanted to pay by visa. We didn’t take the payment and didn’t send him his goods. We told him we would accept wire transfer and he was not willing to do that. Hope no one gets sucked in by one of these scams. Best Regards, Kitimai Tea & Coffee

rob

Just received a scam by email from Tim Benson also asking for 300lbs of coffee to ship to Puerto Rico. He asked that we use Allshipcargo.com for freight. Beware!

Kevin

Ditto. Just got the same today from Tim Benson. He must drink a lot of coffee to be sending out so many emails. Thanks for the heads up.

N K

Got the following email from a Harry Stedman (stedmanharry44@gmail.com):

I am Harry,i will like to order coffee,50bags of Medium roast (250lbs) packed in 5lb bags.I will be glad if you get back to me with the total for my order so that I can make necessary payment and provide my ordering information for us to proceed.Advise the forms of payment you accept.I will look forward to your email and let me know if you carry other varieties of coffee products.

Thanks,
Harry.

A

@NK – got the same email from stedmanharry44@gmail.com

I am Harry,i will like to order coffee,50bags of Medium roast (250lbs) packed in 5lb bags.I will be glad if you get back to me with the total for my order so that I can make necessary payment and provide my ordering information for us to proceed.Advise the forms of payment you accept.I will look forward to your email and let me know if you carry other varieties of coffee products.

Thanks,
Harry.

MICHELLE BARFORTH

Damn. Just got one of those emails yesterday, from Tim Benson (timbenson201127@gmail.com):

“Hi,
Am inquiring about coffee,i actually need some quantity for some hotels and cafe consumption,below is the qty and type of coffee am interested in;

Medium Roast Whole Bean
Guatemala/Colombian
Qty: 65bags of 5lb (350lbs)

Let me know the total cost on the above qty and form of payment you accept,i will provide you with payment and shipping information for us to proceed.”

This is a real shame. It did not feel right to me at first sight, either. Gets you excited about the order, though. Thanks to all for the good info!!

Michelle
No Average Joe

Maddie

This scam is still continuing, we received this request last week from an Eric Palmer.

Maddie
Tully’s Coffee

Dizzy Ling

Received the same message from ‘Eric Palmer’ today. Looks like they are pretty indiscriminate as we’re not even based in the US – we’re in Malaysia!

Dizzy
Triumvirate Coffee Roasters

Sean from Kai Coffee

We are in Australia and got one from a Kelvin Peggs! What a punk! As some of the previous crew I sent him an invoice for the coffee and then he wanted me to put the shipping int he invoice for him. Sent me the email and name of some random company. I was more currious than anything. Once I demanded he pay my invoice and organize his own freight he stopped writing. 🙂

TJ Murphy

We just got an email from Tim Benson (timbenson201127@gmail.com) asking for Director’s Chairs (I work with furniture companies) and this time is went through another email sales@tlclinensales.com…. our rep firm is based in california and the only thing i could find on TLC Linen Sales is that they’re based on the east coast. Glad all I had to do was google Tim’s email address and find this gold;)

Clancy

Just got this one from Tim Benson:

Hi,
I need a quantity of coffee for my hotel use,below’s my order details.

Medium Roast Whole Bean
Guatemala/Colombian
Qty: 60 bags of 5lb (300lbs)

Please send total cost for the above qty plus tax and advise the method of payment you accept,i will call back with payment and shipping details for us to proceed.

Regards

Brandon

Just to keep this updated, currently goes by Tim Benson emailing from timoffice2011@gmail.com asking for 300 lbs of coffee for his hotel. When asking about the hotel location he said it was the Santa Royal Hotel in Santa Isabel, PR. No such hotel exists, and the shipping address is a residence.

Brandon
Bullrun Coffee Roasters

Mike Holliday, Crossroads Coffee

I just got one from him myself. Sent message that we have contract for exclusive shipping. Doubt I’ll hear back.

Tom

Hi
He is still at it under the name Tim Benson. Same email message though. Thanks for verifying my suspicions.
Tom
Sandwich Coffee Roasters.

Mark Stiles

This is not a “shipping scam” this is a Total Scam” You will lose the shipping cost and then payment for product through a credit card (ACH) will be CHARGED BACK.

Hers How:

Your choice of carrier and shipment options with that carrier can have a big impact on your ability to meet the proof of delivery requirements. Please ensure, especially when shipping goods internationally, that your carrier can provide ‘delivered’ status at the correct address, or your Seller Protection claim with your bank may be denied. Always use a well known legitimate shipper.

The buyer will simply deny that they received the goods they paid for and the shipper will be gone or unable to provide any sufficient proof of delivery. Their bank will return their funds and your bank {YOU} will be forced to pay. You can then enter the appeal process but with zero proof.

You will lose everything bot product and shipping.

Good Luck

Thomas

I’m with you David – received an email from Eric bloody Palmer today too. Thanks DCN for highlighting this and for the thread. Good to know hitting the ‘delete’ button was the right course of action!

Ron Reddick

Hi All,

Scam is alive and well, just got an email via our wholesale enquiry, same thing, 350# of French Roast, 5lb bags, shipped to the sheraton in PR. Did not want to know anything about our coffee’s, etc.

We talked on the phone, foreign accents, and told them since they are new, they needed to fill out our wholesale buyers agreement with EIN, etc and first orders until terms are setup are done via Wire Transfer and that we use our own shipping company. They pushed back, said they could do CC today, I said I can wait for the wire, that I would not even roast this until it was cleared and in my bank via domestic wire.

No word back from them, was to funny, all the excuses and BS. Was easy to tell it was a scam, no one orders that much coffee and not even know you.

Ron

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