NEWS 2 I-TEAM: Charleston business owner warns about fishy email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — One Charleston woman wants to warn others about a possible phishing scam that may target local business owners.

A phishing scam usually happens through email. Someone will try to bait information out of you to try to hook you in their scam.

Charleston interior designer, Lorraine Vale, receives a lot of inquiries through her website.

She received the email in question in June.

The email starts off, “Greetings … I want to relocate to your country.”

The writer then described a bungalow he needs decorated. He wanted to know where Lorraine did business.

“I had a little bit of concern because of the first sentence: Greetings, I have an interest in moving to your country,” said Lorraine.

But, she gave him the benefit of the doubt. She replied with information about her business.

“He told me he was working on an oil rig out in the middle of the ocean,” Lorraine said.

They had a few email exchanges, until she says she found the big red flag.

“His third email said ‘Artwork,’and I thought that came out of left field,” she said.

The man told her to charge his credit card for $12,000. He told her to keep $3,000 send the other $9,000 to his artist.

“I said, ‘Maybe you have a relative or a family member that could do that,’” Lorraine said.

She didn’t go through with the charge.

Sgt. Trevor Shelor with the Charleston Police Department says the only thing you should do with suspicious emails is delete them.

“If there’s any mention of, ‘I’m going to send you more money than you’re asking for, and please send me the change,’ that’s a big red flag,” said Shelor.

Shelor also says to read the email carefully.

“Look for English grammar problems in it. If there’s any subject verb disagreement, or they don’t have plurals or singulars where they ought to be, or any other grammar glitches, then just delete the whole thing,” Shelor said.

Police say you should only file a police report if you’ve lost money in the scam. They also say it’s very hard to catch people involved in fishing scams.

“It’s essentially impossible… It’s a very sad thing, but hopefully your credit card company your bank or somebody will try and help you make good on it. But, as far as police prosecution there’s nobody with jurisdiction to prosecute on this,” said Shelor.

Lorraine credits her skepticism for why she didn’t go through with the client, but she worries for those just starting out, who may be desperate for business.

“Younger designers might not have the experience and be able to just be able to cut this guy off. I thought it was important to tell people this guy is phishing, and he’s looking for someone to hijack money,” said Lorraine.

For more information about phishing scams, click here.

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