Bogus! Scammer Poses as University Buyer in Attempted Con of Promo Distributor

Bogus! Scammer Poses as University Buyer in Attempted Con of Promo Distributor

It’s not the first time – and likely not the last – that swindlers have pretended to be procurement specialist Michael Pidcock from Ohio University in an effort to get distributors to provide product for which the hucksters will never pay.

The Pidcock caper is afoot again.

A con artist posing as Michael Pidcock, a real purchasing manager at Ohio University, is once more trying to dupe distributors in the promotional products industry.

A distributor executive told ASI Media on Monday, Sept. 19, that his company was targeted last week. ASI Media is withholding the distributorship’s name at the firm’s request.

The would-be swindler sent an email posing as Pidcock and requesting a quote for 10,000 stainless-steel OU-branded travel mugs.

A team member for the distributor, who initially had cause to believe the request was legitimate, responded with a quote.

However, the distributorship soon identified a number of promo order red flags that tipped off that the request was really a bogus attempt to get the promo firm to foot the bill for and then provide the mugs, with the scammer having no intention of paying for them.

For one thing, the message was sent from an email address that was not part of the official Ohio University system. Undertaking due diligence, the distributor looked up the real Michael Pidcock’s email address and noticed it was different.

Another cause for pause was that the scammer would not provide a deposit. While the distributorship spoke with the conniver on the phone, the promo pros were savvy enough to check the phone number against the real Pidcock’s professional number. The two did not match.

While the schemer sent a vector art logo sheet with OU branding so decoration could be performed, the distributor became even more leery after the fake Pidcock quickly confirmed he wanted to proceed with the order after receiving the quote. “Rarely does confirmation come that fast,” the distributor executive said.

Heavily suspicious now, the distributorship did a Google search on possible scams involving the name Michael Pidcock and Ohio University – and came across an article ASI Media wrote about essentially the same scam in June 2021. In that case, the scammer also pretended to be Pidcock.

At that point, the distributorship knew it was in contact with a con man. Based on information ASI Media has reviewed, there’s good cause to believe the swindlers are routinely trying to work the scam – posing particularly as Pidcock – against other promo distributors.

“The scammers are getting more sophisticated, even sending vector art and a fake purchase order if requested,” the executive told ASI Media.

To keep from getting tricked, industry firms should take steps similar to what the distributorship in this case did, such as looking for red flags like suspicious email addresses and phone numbers. Distributors can also look up the official contact information for a supposed buyer and contact the buyer directly through those channels to see if a request is real.

While in this case the scammer wanted branded products, it’s also not uncommon for hucksters to request large quantities of blank products, which they never pay for and then sell on the black market.

This time around, the distributorship identified the scam before fulfilling the order and losing money. But in the case involving a crook posing as Pidcock that ASI Media reported on last year, a different distributorship was left on the hook for 10,000 flash drives after getting hoodwinked.

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