MUST-READ: Interior Designers Share Bad Experiences with Alleged Scammers
Real Living editor-in-chief Rachelle Medina shares six practical reminders for design professionals and suppliers
On October 28, we were surprised to read about an alleged scamming incident reported by a Filipino interior designer. In her Facebook post, the designer explained that a week before, someone who introduced himself as "Paul Medrano" called to hire her for a project. After interviewing him about the project details, the designer agreed to visit the project site. She went with her assistant, her father, and her father's friend to the initial meeting place, a church in Lucban, Quezon. From this church, two men on an unregistered motorcycle without a license plate were supposed to lead them to the project site.
On the way to the project site, the client called again and asked the interior designer if the two men could borrow P13,000 for a basket of fish. He said that he would pay the designer back at the project site. Since the designer already felt that this just might be a scam, she only gave P700 to the two men and agreed to meet the client at a fast food restaurant two towns away. However, the client never showed up and never returned their P700.
Yesterday, another Filipino interior designer agreed to meet a client who also introduced himself as "Paul Medrano" in Paete, Laguna. According to her own Facebook post, she and her two friends were also fetched by two men on an unregistered motorcycle without a license plate and were also asked if they could lend money. This time, the client asked for P4,800. However, since she remembered the earlier post of her fellow interior designer, she took a couple of pictures, turned their car around, and simply went home.
Since the two interior designers have posted about these alleged scamming incidents, more than 10 professionals and suppliers have already left comments about their similar experiences with someone that may be the same person or part of the same group as the person using the alias "Paul Medrano."
If you are also a designer, architect, contractor, service provider, or a professional in a related field, you can better protect yourself and your business by considering these suggestions from Real Living editor-in-chief Rachelle Medina:
- Stick to client referrals from family and friends
You may want to think about working only with clients that have been referred to you by family, friends, colleagues, and other people that you know and trust.
- Provide only your office number and e-mail address
If you still want to consider working with more clients, you may want to provide only your office number and e-mail address. Since calling an office number and composing an e-mail can take more time and effort, you just might receive more serious and legitimate inquiries.
- Meet at a public place
The alleged scamming incidents that we have read about have happened in Quezon, Laguna, Rizal, and other places unfamiliar to the design professionals and suppliers. To stay on the safe side, you should set up a meeting at a public place before planning a site visit.
- Ask your contractor to join you at the site visit
Once you have met the possible client and you are both interested in pushing through with the project together, you may want to arrange a site visit. However, you should never go to the site alone. You may want to ask your contractor (or at least a relative or friend!) to accompany you.
- No money should be exchanged
If you are faced with a similar experience as these alleged incidents, you should always politely decline to give money. You may also consider leaving the place immediately.
- Trust your instincts
Most importantly, you should listen to what that voice of reason in your head is telling you. If you feel like something is wrong, you can exercise your right to say no.
Editor's Note: To protect the privacy of the interior designers, we have decided to withhold their names and their original Facebook posts.