Am I being scammed? (by person who previously dealt legitimately with me)

This is to do with advertising (well, I think it is really about search engine optimization) on my web site. A little over two years ago I was approached, via email, by a representative of a gambling (online poker) related site about carrying a link on my site to theirs. My site’s is basically academic/scientific in its content, and it is not highly trafficked, but it does have a pretty good Google page rank. After a bit of negotiation I agreed to carry their link for one year for $500. They sent me the $500 through PayPal.

After the first year expired, I emailed and asked if they wanted to continue for another year. They did, and paid me through PayPal again. When the second year expired recently, I emailed the person I originally dealt with again. They were a bit slow to reply, but just recently I got an email back from them which included the following:

As I say, this person has dealt honestly with me before, and I have already made a very welcome $1000 off them, but being asked for my bank details like this makes me a bit nervous. It seems a bit too much like the sort of thing Nigerian scammers would ask for. Also, it seems a bit odd that their company should have lost its PayPal access (although actually I hate dealing through PayPal because they charge me quite a substantial fee for these sorts of transfer). Can anyone tell me if the poker site people would indeed need all this information to transfer money to my account? Also, more importantly, might giving out this information enable someone (including, I guess, anyone who might intercept the email) to break into my account? Or does it all seem kosher?

Also, what is the “Swift Code / BIC” and how do I find out what mine is?

For $500, I am not sure I would take the risk. Why don’t you just tell them you will take a check by mail?

A swift code is an international banking code. You can look up US banks codes here

I’d hazard a guess that this is not the same person you’ve dealt with before.

  • The website may have changed hands to less honest proprietors.
  • They may have decided to subcontract their advertising, and whomever they hired uses some shady practices.
  • Somebody may have hacked into their records and has gone phishin’.

By no means should you provide this information. Maybe there’s a small chance it’s on the up and up, but better safe than sorry.

Find some new advertisers.

Just ask for a check.

That’s what I would do. Ask for a check or send an email back saying “Hey, no big deal, just wire the money over as soon as your paypal account is working again” and leave it at that. If everything has been fine in the past, I wouldn’t be too concerned about leaving the link up for a few days or a week or two.

The delay may have been them trying to get their paypal account to work.

Now if they send you a check “accidentally” for $5000.00 and ask you to refund them the “extra” $4500.00; it will be completely legitimate :rolleyes:

Wire transfers is how most businesses around the world conduct transactions with each other. And the information they are requesting is necessary to conduct such a transfer. Most corporations have protections on their accounts to protect from being debited. No reason to automatically assume that this is a scam.

Call your bank discuss with them that you need to receive a wire transfer from someone you have done business with in the past. They will guide you through the proper steps. Ask your bank how to make sure they protect your account.

I don’t understand their problem. You don’t have to be a member of Paypal to make a payment to someone with a Paypal account, you can use any credit or debit card. You have to be a Paypal member to pay through your checking account, but not for credit/debit card use. If they don’t have a credit/debit card (which already seems fishy for a legitimate business) they could get a prepaid debit card at any currency exchange and use that, if they wanted to.

So yeah, smells scammy.

Sounds like the business has changed hands. I can’t think of any way to lose PayPal access unless the account to which it was tied has been closed, as you do when you sell your business to someone. So what they are really telling you, IMO, is they haven’t yet set up a new PayPal account and do not plan to. They want to set up wire transfers and will count on your history with the previous owners to build the trust relationship.

I call shenanigans. Either request a check or money order, or just tell them you are not interested in continuing the advertising relationship. I can’t think of a single good business reason that I would give another business all my sensitive account information. This screams shady.

Now that all the paranoid people have spoken, I will answer your question. Yes, that information is the minimum information needed to conduct a legit wire transfer and people do it all the time. There is nothing unusual or scary about their request except that their PayPal is not working. However, it is highly plausible that they are having some type of issue with Paypal and they are just sparing you the details. From my experience with Paypal, I find their email to be kosher.

I concur with Bear Nenno – I have conducted business for over a decade with firms that prefer wire transfers. Personally, Being a mostly paperless company, I have no printed checks for my business account.

What they are asking for is perfectly legitimate and occurs all the time with businesses.

Yeah, that’s normal bank wire info. They can’t do anything with that info other than wire money to that account.

It may be a legitimate wire transfer, but I still wouldn’t give out all that bank information. I’d err on the side of caution with that much bank information. Scammers can do a lot with a lot less.

Can’t they wire money *out *of that account? That’s all I need from my own checking account to make a payment by check online.

I’m certainly prepared to believe that this is how big business does business, because big business rests on reputation. If Comcast asks me for that info, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to scam me. But this isn’t big business. This is a little (no offense, OP) website where a year’s worth of advertising costs $500. Little guys use Paypal (or checks or money orders) because little guys don’t know each other well enough to trust each other, especially when their only interaction is once a year via email.

That said, even if it is legitimate, that does not mean that you should do it. My company receives legitimate requests for payment by wire frequently due to a large number of international sales, and we do this, but we charge a substantial fee (around $40, IIRC). We don’t profit from this; this just recoups what the bank charges us. You may be on the line for significant wire charges if you accept payment this way.

Wire transfers are pretty much the standard in some areas of the world, and checks aren’t really used. However, I wouldn’t do this with my personal account either.


Ugh, you should try being a sole proprietor and filling out a credit application to get terms with another company you want to buy from.
Not only do they want your banking information (don’t know why), they also ask for the owners SSN, home phone number, Drivers License number and you have to sign a personal guarantee that states that if the business can’t pay the bills they owe, the owner will personally make good on the debt. IOW, if the business goes under, we get your house.

Paypal does not accept gambling transactions and if they somehow discovered that this account was tied to online gambling that may have gotten their account suspended.

They can wire money in out. We do so all the time. For companies that are paying us, we use a sweep account. As soon as the payment arrives, it’s swept into our regular account. We can also designate the sweep account as for deposit only.

Isn’t this pretty much the same information (name, bank, account #) that’s printed on a check? So anybody that the OP has paid by check has all this information; it’s hardly top-secret.

Can’t the OP just send a letter/fax to their bank instructing the bank to allow wire transfers into, but not out of, their account?

Is this even legal? I thought the whole purpose of incorporating (I’m assuming you’ve incorporated) is to protect your personal assets from business debt.