Beth, an Idaho Falls woman, reported getting an email from an out-of-state photographer asking for her assistance in procuring Avon brand makeup for an upcoming showbiz photo shoot in the area.
“The list was very explicit in what types of makeup he wanted, quantities and dates he would need them,” Beth says. “The stuff he wanted was all the higher priced items.”
The email, from Paul Jones with Multitask Agency, in Henrico, Va., said he’d been referred to Beth through the avon.com site to purchase products. Beth is an Avon sales representative.
“Unfortunately, I don’t take checks from strangers, and especially for orders this large,” she says.
The email listed several high-priced items he wanted to order to pick up when he came to Idaho Falls for a photo shoot and told her he would pay with check. He indicated that he would make it for $600 over the final sale price and she would need to send back the difference Western Union. She was immediately suspicious and emailed him back to tell him she would not be ordering any product for him as she does not accept checks from customers she doesn’t already know.
She then thought of all the other sales representatives in the region and contacted the Better Business Bureau.
BBB tried contacting Jones at 240-813-8346, but the phone was disconnected. An internet search for Multitask Agency, turned up an address at 425 N Blvd. Henrico, VA 23075 – the address belongs to the county hospital. A receptionist at the medical facility says there was no such company or organization located in the complex by that name.
Emails to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com listed as belonging to Paul Jones of Multitask Agency from Henrico, Va., were not returned nor answered.
Avon representatives had no comment for this story.
An internet search of Multitask Agency, Henrico, Va., and found several similar emails posted by other Avon reps as a warning.
Here are a few of the outtakes collected on Samantha Holloway’s website. Beware of:
- Out-of-state orders connected to “a showbiz” production or someone who represents themselves as a “retail buyer” (which is against the contract you signed, anyway), or who is out of the country for now and still wants to order.
- Email addresses that contain the person’s name and unusual amount of numbers. Pay attention to the names used; scammers will often change the number part, but keep the same name or something similar.
- Plays on emotion – being deaf/blind, a single mother, or having lost someone in an accident recently.
- Poor grammar and punctuation are tip-offs. Limited English usage most like means it’s from overseas.
- Someone who asks to pay through their boss’s check or a finance department, or who wants a lot of personal information to send you a money order – it’s all an attempt to get enough info to steal your identity and/or establish check fraud. Overpayment with a request to return funds via wire transfer.
- Large orders between $200 and 600$ of the most expensive products in multiple quantities. They want to sell your products overseas, AND get your money.
- All emails have similar text. The names, businesses and products might change, but the instructions and request appear identical.
- A request for third-party mail carrier pick up.