I bought three people flowers the other day (bumped)

Originally posted 3-21: Updated (see below)

…and didn’t even know it.

I was reconciling the online charges today and found a couple of big charges to an Internet florist, which was notable because I didn’t buy any flowers from that florist.  Oh, I did a couple of years ago, but that’s it.

First, I called my bank, and they recommended calling the company first.

Second, I called the company, and found very nice and supportive folks on the phone.  Their customer relations person told me that the caller got my card, name and address correct (terrific).  They also told me the three cities the flowers went to, none of which I know anyone in.  So, my money has been refunded, and they have a flag on my card of some sort to prevent its use.

Then, after thinking about 30 seconds, I called the bank back, and after laying it out they immediately stopped my card number, and I’ll get another some time this month, probably.  They were nice, too.

And now, I’ve filed a fraud report with a credit reporting service, so they’re watching for new account requests. 

 

Oh, I got two calls from the flower company with “I have the flower recipient on the other line, and they want to know who sent the flowers”, with two very disappointed operators when I told them the story, nicely.  One of them called back and gave me some information on who they thought sent them the flowers, with a name so rare there’s only one that pops up in the US.  Weird.  We’ll see.

I hate thieves.  I hope I can help find this one.

 

Update: So, the person who called back was appalled she’d gotten fraudulent (if nice) flowers, contacted me, and forwarded me several emails for an Internet suitor.  Again the same extremely unique name, and markedly poor English grammar and punctuation.  Oh, and he’s bragging about sending flowers on my card, not knowing she’s aware, and guess what:

hi xxxxxxxxxx,
how as your day been? cool i guess! the flowers are just a sign of our love i want you to keep and cheerish it well. just the way you would do to me…………….xxxxxxxxx you need to do me a little favour.my mum in nigeria is very sick and would be operated upon.i need you to do some money order for me i would give you the full details soon but you will get parcel containing the order in 2days time.
xxxxxxxxxxx

(the x’s are not hugs; they’re where I’ve taken out their names, in case you’re drinking).  (And stop drinking so early).

Hmm.  This seemed like a pretty good facsimile of a money laundering operation at best, or full-on bank fraud at worst.  Some Googling brought about the Wikipedia answer, a Romance scam:

A romance scam essentially occurs when strangers pretend romantic intentions, gain the affection of victims, and then use that good will to gain access to their victims’ money/bank account or by getting them to commit financial fraud on their behalf. Most of these scams seem to originate from, and are prevalent in West Africa (especially Nigeria) although they are becoming increasingly common in Russia and Eastern Europe. Another emerging region is Thailand and The Philippines or any other country where ‘mail order brides‘ are available.

Here’s where I screw up it gets funny.  I sent an email back to the flower girl outlining my suspicions, with a link to the Wiki article, etc.  Well, it was supposed to be sent to the flower girl.  I sent it to the scammer, by mistake, along with the flower girl. 

I’m a doofus.

But I’m not trying to scam anyone.


Comments

  1. TheNewGuy says:

    Between my wife and I, we had a bad year last year for credit cards; three different cards cloned and used fraudulently.

    One was used to buy about 750 dollars in gift cards at a popular online merchant.

    Another was used to purchase about 500 dollars worth of merchandise at a Walmart in another state.

    In all cases, our CC company quickly caught that something was amiss, and contacted us about the aberrant charges. We promptly canceled the cards and replacements were in our hands in a couple of days. I don’t know what sort of software they use to track purchases and “flag” things that are out of your normal pattern, but it works.

  2. So many people don’t even check their statements – it’s good that you’re vigilant.

  3. I wonder if this is more common for florists — I had a similar problem with a florist in Dallas. First time, I disputed it with CC company, and they later reversed, saying the florist said that someone had mis-keyed the CC machine. 6 months later, another ~$100 charge. 2 months later, while my dispute to the second one was still pending, they hit me a third time. CC company reversed them all and sent me a new card.

    A month or so later, I saw a report on the local ABC affiliate that this florist had been making random charges to hundreds of customers, and the AG was investigating. Report said that relatively few of the people that got hit noticed the bad charges. I only noticed them because I had originally purchased there using a card that I basically stopped using after getting married, so the bad charges were the only ones in a given month.

  4. Someone stole your credit card number to send other people flowers? Was it Robin Hood? It seems so bizarre to steal someone’s account number only to use it to send gifts. Weird.

  5. Hey – I’m with Matt. Maybe it was the florist that was skimming from your account. How nice – to receive flowers – almost like a victimless crime – the florist makes the dough, and only “reimburses” when caught.

    No wonder they were nice to you on the phone – they could afford to be!

  6. I have found that VISA is vigilant about weird charges, and will call.
    AMEX, on the other hand, allowed a charge for airline tickets from Luton England to Paris a couple of years ago, tickets bought for two people with Middle Eastern sounding names.
    If I hadn’t caught it, it wouldn’t have been caught.
    And when I brought it to their attention, they “temporarily” suspended the charge, while they investigated it. The last letter I received only said that they still had not heard back from the airline, and that “if you don’t hear anything more, consider the matter taken care of.” Inspired a lot of confidence in them. I still have my AMEX card (a different number, of course) but rarely use it, I’m afraid to.

  7. That is frightening. It makes me boiling mad to think about that type of theft.

  8. Hey Doc– Google “recall email” and learn about some nice little programs in various flavors that might be able to help you out should you ever do this bone head thing of sending it to the wrong person again. Some work, others don’t. Depends on what you’re using for an email program. Love da blog! Mary Lu

  9. Last month Visa called me because there were 2 charges for money orders drafed in the UK. Visa took care of reporting to the credit agencies, cancelled the card and had a new card to us in 48 hours. I was impressed. I hope it was just some scumbag who picked our credit card number, and not someone trying to steal my identity (poor choice on their part if they did). I still watch my statements very closely.

  10. Jim in Texas says:

    I suspect that this is not the end to this story. Please keep us updated.

    In my last job we had numerous shipments of goods bought with fraudulent credit cards and then shipped through my company to addresses in Nigeria. Fortunately, because the items were purchased either online or by phone the purchaser was considered an “unknown shipper” and the U.S. Government prohibits shipping anything from an unknown shipper on passenger airplanes and even on freight planes the items had to sit on our dock for a few weeks before shipping (The theory was if it was a bomb it was better to blow up on our dock rather than an airplane; I understood the theory, just wasn’t crazy about it!)

    Usually before the shipping date we’d learned that shipping had also been paid for with a stolen credit card (shortsighted thieves) and we’d cancel the shipment. I’d open the items; get the original shipper’s name call them and found out they had all been stung.

    There were many happy people who learned that their stuff was still on my dock and very happy to pay the return shipping fees. I had everything from $200 worth of tee shirts to a $24,000 color copier

  11. Wow, that is an interesting take on the 419 scams that are out there.

  12. If I’m reading this at 12:30 am is it ok if I’m STILL drinking?

  13. That ending was extremely funny. Best laugh I had in weeks. Thanks for sharing your mistake.

    Good luck on sorting out the credit card problem.

  14. In the end, you may have been duped anyway into thinking that the girl is not in on it — now they both have your email address.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I recall watching a program with a banking scam that might be related to this one. Essentially the scammer pretends to be from a foreign country, gets into conversation (flowers/romance of course helps) with someone and sends them a cheque for $$$, asking them to do a favor e.g. move money into an account, send goods etc.

    The receiver sees their bank balance go up on depositing the cheque and do the favor. Of course 2 weeks later the cheque bounces, and the scammer has the money/goods/whatever.

  16. I’m not worried about them having my email address; I am worried about how this scammer got my credit card number.

  17. TEvans30 says:

    I am one of the people who received the flowers and when I called to see who they came from. I found out about the fraud. I asked the 1800Flower Rep to pass on my name and phone # and said I would help out in anyway that I can. I kept to my word. I passed on the info I knew about this person including phone #’s that were given to me. Trust me I am not part of this scam.

  18. I’ve been pleased with Visa – I’ve received two verification calls in the past couple of years for out-of-character purchases – one was an engagement ring (I don’t really buy jewelery otherwise) and one was for domain renewal with a registrar who’s based in France (so an unexpected out-of-country charge for $10).