Last week I forwarded a booking inquiry from my website to a retreat organizer. Immediately she got back to me to let me know that she thinks it’s a scam and that she would tell them that the retreat is full.
Whaaaaat? A scam? Is that happening now to yoga retreat organizers?
Apparently it is. And you should be aware of this too.
Naturally I wanted to learn more and asked her what made her think it’s a scam and if that happened before. She told me it happened before, they used to get a few emails like this a week!
So what made her think it’s a scammer?
The booking inquiry for the yoga retreat was from a doctor, without any questions, just writing that he wanted to book the retreat for 3 people for 2 weeks.
Getting a booking inquiry like this should make you watchful, too!
Most people would ask questions about the retreat first. And wouldn’t book for 3 people for 2 weeks. They are hoping that you only see the possible money coming in and ignore these warning signs.
It’s always a doctor or lawyer or someone else with a trustworthy profession.
Their email address is not an official company email or even uses their name.
If you get an email like this don’t be scared – the email isn’t going to harm you. Just don’t take it any further.
Next the scammers ask for your banking details.
No problem, right? Let them transfer the money to your account.
But here’s the danger. You should never give out your banking details to a stranger that you don’t know.
I did a little bit of online research and this is how they try to scam you:
They deposit for example 2000 dollars into your account and ask you to transfer some portion of it to someone else. They might even offer you a commission. But their deposit went in as a check and will be retroactively voided (yes, that can be done after your bank says the check cleared!), while you paid via wire transfer or some other mechanism that can’t be cancelled.
Another scam is that they ‘accidentally’ pay you too much and ask you to transfer some of it to another account. You transfer the money, and then the bank finds out the initial deposit was fraudulent (such as a bounced cheque) and removes it, leaving you out of pocket.
A pretty obvious scam is if they ask you not only for your banking details, but also your online access username, password etc. You know to NEVER give these details to anyone, right? No one ever has any legitimate reason to ask for your bank username, password, or security questions/answers. Even your bank won’t ask for your password or security question answers.
How to stay safe from scammers when selling your retreats
When you get email inquiries that sound fishy, trust your gut. If they ask to pay right away for 2 or more people for 2 weeks it might be too good to be true. Beware when they say they are doctors (makes me feel bad for real doctors, but unfortunately it’s the profession many scammers use).
If you receive any non-cash payments, such as a check, money order, U.S. postal money order or other similar items, you should take appropriate steps to protect yourself. Even if you’re not an expert at spotting a counterfeit check, you can avoid becoming a victim by calling the bank where the check was issued or asking your own bank teller to verify its legitimacy.
You want your retreat clients to pay you obviously. And since PayPal is expensive, giving them your banking details seems like the best option. But unfortunately it’s not the safest method. I recommend to ask for a down payment via PayPal. Only if that clears you give out your banking details so they can transfer the rest of the money. If you sell a lot of retreats online, you might want to use a payment provider like www.sendowl.com.
It’s a scary world out there, people! But let’s not forget that 99% of all yoga retreat inquiries are from real people who are genuinely interested in your retreat.
Don’t let those few scammers keep you from marketing your retreats online. Just be watchful and protect yourself.