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Scams Targeting Detailers

Even if your detailing business is still in the early stages, scammers will catch wind of your existence target you for committing check or credit card fraud. Learn to pick out scammers early to avoid wasting time and money.

How It Works

The scammer will either send a check that’s higher than the amount you bill them and ask you to send the “extra” back in a separate transaction, or they’ll ask you to bill a stolen credit card. This can happen over cash apps such as Venmo and PayPal as well.

When your bank does an audit or the credit card pops as stolen days or weeks later, the bank will pull the full amount out of your account. This leaves you in a deficit and now you’re under investigation for assisting finance fraud. If it was a check and you sent the scammer a transaction on your own to give them any money (such as the “overpaid” amount), that’s the loot the scammer runs away with while you’re dealing with the bank.

How to Recognize Scammers

The scammer will message you saying that they have three or more vehicles, often luxury SUVs, that they want detailed in your highest package, sometimes requesting services you don’t even offer. The scammer says a driver will drop the vehicles off for you and they’ll offer to pay up front by check or credit card.

If you ask for a phone number or address, it’ll be fake. If you call, they won’t answer. The vehicles don’t exist. Keep messaging them to draw out more information and it’ll become obvious that they’re not a real client.

Lieutenant Paul

The messages can come in a variety of flavors, but the “Lieutenant Paul” version is the most common to the point that it’s a running joke in the detailing community. The scammer will sometimes use a military or medical title to sound credible, to the point of signing every message with the title and a first name to remind you constantly.

Darryl from Detail Haus in Barrie, Ontario caught a Lieutenant Paul scammer as well as a 4-car scammer.

Lieutenant Paul Scammer

Hospitalized or Leaving the Country

Sometimes the scammer will include an excuse for not being able to meet or call you directly, such as being in the hospital or out of the country. But for some reason they want you to detail four luxury vehicles… while they’re hospitalized… Yeah, we don’t get it either.

Israel from Scrub Bro’s Mobile Detailing in Seguin, Texas caught this scammer using the hospital and selling lies. They even texted him a reply mid-conversation from a completely different number!

Updated on 13 July 2023

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