Scam Alert for Interior Designers and Home Stagers

By
Home Stager with Polished Pillars Staging LLC

We Are Easy to Find


Most of us who work with the public attempt to make ourselves easy to contact. Through personalized web sites, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and on and on, our goal is to get the public to respond to our Call To Action.  Most of us have had our credit and debit cards compromised and some of us have had our Facebook accounts hacked. It is alarming to me the amount of dishonesty we deal with on a daily basis in our personal lives and yet don't suspect it in our business lives.

The First Contact

I received a text message from a client one afternoon from someone who called herself Mrs. Carolyn. She stated that she needed an interior designer to do "installation and styling (staging) of items we have just ordered for our new apartment we are moving to." She provided an email address and asked me to contact her, which I did.


The Plot Thickens


Mrs. Carolyn and her husband were moving here from the U.K., with their 7 month old child, and she needed someone to meet the movers and set up their home in advance of their arrival, which she now described as a single family house. She included a list of items, with pictures, that would be delivered to their home and explained that she wanted everything to be set up in advance of their arrival in late December. I noticed that none of the items would accommodate an infant, no crib was mentioned. Later in the email she described the home as a Townhouse, now we were back to it being an apartment. Mrs. Carolyn was very eager to receive a quote from me and get the details settled. She asked if I could accept a certified check. Even with my misgivings, I replied, asking for some additional information, including the address so that I could consider travel time.


 The email response I received back included a image of a floor layout, a single level layout, not the townhouse. No address was provided. Many pictures of furniture and even some light fixtures were included. A lot of details about the movers and timelines were provided. I replied with my fees and business address.

Radar On High Alert!

The next reply was a description of how I would receive the certified check via USPS and that there will be some "extra funds" that I would use to compensate the movers. They explained that I should overnight deposit it and wait for it to clear, then I would be able to make use of the funds. At this point I emailed back that I realized this was a fraudulent request. I heard nothing else back.

The Rub

While we think of certified checks as safe, they can be successfully counterfeited. It can be weeks after you deposit the check before it is identified as counterfeit. In my case, I suspect that the scammer would tell me that they had accidentally made the check out of too much and ask me to refund part of the amount. This article explains how fake certified checks are used by scammers. Facts About Fake Certified Checks
 
 


The Need for Vigilance 

As much as we want to help people and move our businesses forward, it's so important to listen to that little voice.  It is also a good policy to insist on a phone call with potential clients. 


 

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​This Blog article was written by Patti Robinson, owner of Polished Pillars Staging, LLC, which specializes in Staging Consultations, Occupied Staging and Vacant Home Staging in the Dayton and Cincinnati Ohio areas.
 
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Anonymous
Genevieve Jordan

I am currently experiencing this exact same scenario. The "check" has not arrived yet. Is there some where I can report these people so maybe something can be done to stop at least this scammer?

Jan 13, 2017 06:50 AM #1
Rainer
24,075
Patti Robinson
Polished Pillars Staging LLC - Lebanon, OH
Always Keeping Design in Mind

Hi Genevieve,

I am sorry to hear that. My plan, had they sent the check, was to go to the Post Office, decline the envelope and tell the USPS that it was fraud, since using the Postal Service fraudulently is against the law. After 15 days the envelope will be returned to the sender if you don't accept it. 

Others may have better advice, good luck!

Jan 13, 2017 04:23 PM #2
Anonymous
Cindy Martin

I am experiencing the same thing. for 2 potential jobs. I may not have caught it if it wasn't for the 2nd "potential job" contacted me with almost same story as the 1st. Just changed the names. When I asked for a contact number, this person is saying they are hard of hearing and went to Ohio school for the deaf. I have not let either "client " know I am on to them. Snakes come out from every rock, and fake rock. Ugh.So sad we are all just trying to do the best we can an honestly work, for people like this to prey upon us. Evil has no boundaries Thanks for posting about the scam, it solidified I was in the middle of one.

Mar 11, 2017 05:38 AM #3
Rainer
42,358
Karen Graves
Artistic Home Staging - Edmond, OK
Certified Home Stager/ReDesigner in the OKC area

I have been contacted a number of times with a variety of versions of this scam.  It is so frustrating that these scammers are trying to take advantage of people who are just trying to make a living.  I have been blocking the numbers they txt from and it seems to be helping.  So sorry you got caught up in it and wasted your time.

Mar 15, 2017 04:01 PM #4
Anonymous
Amy Flores

Going through this right now. The person says her name is Nancy Jordan (hard of hearing) and she is moving to a new home nearby from the UK. This home would clearly never be built in the neighborhood she states. Every drop of this was fishy. Everything was so very urgent. About to give these people a piece of my mind.

May 17, 2017 10:43 AM #5
Anonymous
Christina Niels

Here's the current scam letter I received. So glad I did some research, because I was ready to get this fake 'client' on my schedule!
Good day,

I really appreciate your response and I'm glad to read from you. Once again my name is Mrs. Marion Lindseth, I'm married and I have a 7 months baby call Jay. My husband is the most wonderful thing that has happened to me and I will always say that. He is a Software Developer and System Engineer to a company, we are moving back to the State from London, UK because he just secured a better job.

House description: 3 br, 2 bath townhouse with custom woodwork throughout. Parking space, Luxurious master suite, open-concept chef's kitchen with granite counters, SS appliances, skylight, custom cabintets. I attached the floor plan for your review.

We have ordered for the furnitures and home appliances, so all we need you to do is to make use of our supplies to do the interior decorating (furniture and electronics layout, artwork placement, kitchen utensils placements etc). We plan moving in last week of June. So let me know your free time/chosen date between now and then so we can fix everything and our orders can be deliver at the house before then too.

Below are the items my husband ordered, I'll see if I can get the rest to you but these are the major ones:

Rug for living room 5' by 6' in size - 1
sofa
Clock
Cooking in the kitchen
3 Piece Coffee Table Set - 1
Chairs and Ottoman Set - 1
5 Piece Dining Set - 1
Curtains
TV, including something to put it on such as a TV stand
Handing on wall photo frames
Mattress
Bedside table
Bed sheets
Pillows
Alarm clock
Shower Curtain,bath towels, hand towels
Toilet brush
Fire extinguisher
Belmont Twelve Light Chandelier to replace formal one.

If I may ask, in Which area or city do you live in?

Like i said earlier, There would be handyman/installer to help you. Agent/realtor should also be there delivery date to accept furnitures. The paintings have been done so you don't need to worry about that and I would like to know how much you are willing to charge for your services atleast 2 days and if you accept certified check for payment. I would appreciate it if you can get back to us soonest because we really want things sorted before our arrival.

I look forward to your response soonest.



Warm Regards & Stay Blessed.

MRS LINDSETH MARION
lindsethmarion@hotmail.com.

"when you look good you feel good and when you feel good your attitude changes and attitude is everything!"

May 27, 2017 09:52 AM #6
Anonymous
Mrs. Brown

I got Nancy Jordan on the line right now through Houzz. She has the same crapy list of stuff to arrive from the Uk and her "paintings" (plural LOL) have been done. LOL about her grammar as she is a Texas gal in my version that is also deaf (and dumb). She sent me a floorplan from a development in my area for a humongous house but on her list she ordered only 3 drapes and a 3 x 5 area rug LOL again. I intend to play this a bit more just because I am bored and then ask for 1M up front from her agent. She will pee her pants when I tell her that I will remit the difference when I "discover" my typo error and say I meant to say 1 thousand and will send back the difference (in my funds. Like I even could.)

Jun 07, 2017 10:50 AM #7
Anonymous
Amy Flores

@Mrs. Brown, tell "Nancy Jordon" Amy Flores says "hi". Wish I had had the forethought to play around with the whole scam before I told "her" where to stick it....lol.

Jun 07, 2017 11:17 AM #8
Anonymous
Mrs. Brown

Sorry to report that I have not hear back from Nancy Jordan after I sent her my latest reply.
The last sentence is our sheriff's department address and their phone number which she requested in order to text going forward. Hopefully they will get a big payment in bitcoin or rubles or whatever as I did not name a currency.
You think the amount I requested might have been the deal breaker? Or was it the Minnie Mouse moniker?
I wrote: Make check payable to Mini Moussiere (rhymes with brassiere) for 75,000. I will pay the bribe and a tip to the delivery men and who ever else you send that shows up. My fee is 30,000. That is for 1 day or 1 week, how ever long. You might send more stuff, what do I know. Plus I might not like what you send and want to change stuff around like maybe put the bed in the loggia for the view to the pool, you know what I mean? Whatever money is left over I will send back to you. Also, I see that you send 3 of the 12 light chandeliers. That is a big mistake because they will blow up. That is too many lights for the way the house is wired. That was a problem before and it caused a fire. I will send the chandeliers back to where you got them. They are no good.
Mail check to 3228 XXXXXXX Road, XXXXX, FL 33406 phone is XXX- 688-XXXX

Jun 08, 2017 02:56 PM #9
Anonymous
Mrs. Brown

Thank you so much for this! i got the text to reply to:

MRS LINDSETH MARION
lindsethmarion@hotmail.com.

Sep 20, 2017 02:28 PM #10
Anonymous
Dianna Scarpa

Same thing happened to me and think it's best to share. This time it was from a Mrs. Kimberly Joan who referred to herself first in a text as "Mrs. Joan"... first red flag. After this e-mail (see below full text), I did some research on "interior design scam" and found this article. Thank you! I responded letting them know that I am aware of the fraud, but I politely asked for more details on the scam because I'm still unsure exactly of how they plan on benefitting from us. Doubt that I'll get a response, but fingers crossed! Stay safe out there designers!

Good day,

My name is Mrs. Kimberly Joan, I'm married and I have a 7 months baby call Jay. My husband is the most wonderful thing that has happened to me and I will always say that. He is a Software Developer and System Engineer to a company, we are moving back to the State from London, UK because he just secured a better job.

House description: 3 br, 2 bath townhouse with custom woodwork throughout. Parking space, Luxurious master suite, open-concept chef's kitchen with granite counters, SS appliances, skylight, custom cabintets. I attached the floor plan for your review.

We have ordered for the furnitures and home appliances, so all we need you to do is to make use of our supplies to do the interior decorating (furniture and electronics layout, artwork placement, kitchen utensils placements etc). We plan moving in Last week of next month October. So let me know your free time/chosen date between now and then so we can fix everything and our orders can be deliver at the house before then too.

Below are the items my husband ordered, I'll see if I can get the rest to you but these are the major ones:

Rug for living room 5' by 6' in size - 1
sofa
Clock
Cooking in the kitchen
3 Piece Coffee Table Set - 1
Chairs and Ottoman Set - 1
5 Piece Dining Set - 1
Curtains
TV, including something to put it on such as a TV stand
Handing on wall photo frames
Mattress
Bedside table
Bed sheets
Pillows
Alarm clock
Shower Curtain,bath towels, hand towels
Toilet brush
Fire extinguisher
Belmont Twelve Light Chandelier to replace formal one.

If I may ask, in Which area or city do you live in?

Like i said earlier, There would be handyman/installer to help you. Agent/realtor should also be there delivery date to accept furnitures. The paintings have been done so you don't need to worry about that and I would like to know how much you are willing to charge for your services atleast 2 days and if you accept certified check for payment. I would appreciate it if you can get back to us soonest because we really want things sorted before our arrival.

I look forward to your response soonest.

Sep 25, 2017 09:50 AM #11
Anonymous
Amy Flores

It appears this scam has taken on a new twist. I was contacted today by a " Michael Jack" requesting a $4,000,000 custom one-story bungalow home design on a street in my town that does not exist. Red flags everywhere, but firstly, this American's English was horrific. Wants me to put $46k on a credit card ASAP. $21k for my fee and $25k for his surveyor. My guess is stollen credit card. Working to get them busted but local police said these guys are tough for even FBI and Interpol to bust. Usually in a country where they don't have jurisdiction.

Nov 20, 2017 06:06 PM #12
Anonymous
Kat

I also received a text from "Nora Jones" the with a request for my email about staging a home in listed town and the address would be provided. I texted my email. The first email had many red flags: bad grammar, typos, "I am the hearing impaired lady", a request to email back to "her son's email because her email wasn't coming up for some reason, she was going through a horrible divorce, etc. The next email listed a different town for the home that needed staging. Again, the email had red flags: bad grammar, typos, a lengthy continuous run on sentence, and was written all in lower case. The "client" wrote that the property wasn't listed ( but I checked, it has an MLS#), she first said house was empty, but then requested that she would need me to meet the mover on a certain day to propose a quote for furniture rental & staging needs, etc. I believe if I replied it would quickly advance to a request if I would take a certified check for my services. I reported email as spam and will not reply. Thanks for posting about this scam for other interior designers and stagers.Best,Kat

Dec 06, 2017 04:03 AM #13
Rainer
24,075
Patti Robinson
Polished Pillars Staging LLC - Lebanon, OH
Always Keeping Design in Mind

This scam just won’t die, will it?! I am glad to help, as I was helped when it happened to me. We have to educate each other, it’s the only way to combat the scammers, and sometimes it’s still not enough.

Dec 06, 2017 04:52 AM #14
Rainer
2,800
Carrie Miller
School of Home Staging - Portland, OR
Home Staging Training & Certification for Realtors

Thank you for sharing this. I'm going to pass a warning on to all of the stagers on my contact list.

Jan 09, 2018 04:48 PM #15
Anonymous
Abbi

I just recently experienced a similar scam. I contacted a "Dr. Marion Lindseth" in need of a housekeeper, on Craigslist. "She" was very generous in the amount she would pay for just 2 days of work a week, 2 hours per day. She also gave me a lot of information about herself and her family that i didnt need, such as her favorite color and how much she loved her husband. It was strange that she trusted me off the bat to come into her home without ever meeting me. Even stranger, her grammar seemed to change on a day to day basis, as I stayed in contact with her for 3 days, not realizing until the 3rd, that it was all a scam. She said she would send a check to me ahead of time so i could go out and purchase food and stuff for the new house, but also to secure my services. That right there was a huge red flag. I looked up her name on google, and sure enough, the name she had provided was already known to be used for similar scams. So glad i caught it!

Jan 25, 2018 07:00 PM #16
Rainer
24,075
Patti Robinson
Polished Pillars Staging LLC - Lebanon, OH
Always Keeping Design in Mind

Hi Abbi,

I’m glad you smelled a rat! The variations of this scam never cease to amaze.

 

 

 

 

Jan 25, 2018 07:07 PM #17
Anonymous
Carol

I received this text last week...Hi,I'm Grace I got your contact on houzz . I need an interior decorator to do styling (staging) of items we have just ordered in our new apartment we are moving to next month. Kindly email me at (gracemike453@gmail.com) for more details.Thank youDid not sound right but I sent an email for more details. I was told it was a SF home with 3BR/3BA. Family of 4, their professions, list of what they ordered along with an address. It was a 877 sq ft apt. I contacted the list agent and while on vacation she looked into this. Confirmed my suspension that this was a scam

Feb 18, 2018 04:33 AM #18
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Patti Robinson

Always Keeping Design in Mind
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