THEY can be quite convincing!!! Have had this scam come my way several times. I even know a golf pro who took a similar scam so far as to get a check from one of these people before turning in the check to the bank.
It starts with an email or a text message such as this one I received. Seems innocent enough, maybe a tad bit quirky. But, I have numerous foreign clients whose English is not that great. So, it's acceptable that the phrasing of the questioning and the grammar might be a little off.
We have protocols at my place. We follow them. That's what helps avoid scams from folks such as this.
After getting you to commit to a payment, they will set in motion a plan to steal your money. If you say you accept checks, they will send you a REAL check, often from a REAL account. Everything about the check is official except one thing, it's not their account. They've stolen somebody's account and possibly an identity, too.
Once you deposit the check, they will contact you, telling you in some way that the number of people is going to be less than anticipated. For instance, if you said you could train five people twice a week for eight weeks for $16k individually or $10k as a group, they will send the check then come back and say that only two family members can make the trip. Then they will want the difference in price. The check will clear for whatever price you agreed upon initially. So, the money is in your account. Then they will ask you to wire them the difference in prices - a wire that will go to an account different than the check they sent.
Once you do this, they get the cash from the account and are off. What happens then is you get a call from a company or an individual about a check written to you and cashed by you. And they're going to want ALL of their money back, and you don't have it because Neil is in a beachside hammock somewhere in the South Pacific or off the Nigerian coast being fed grapes while counting that money he swiped from you a 10 others.
The credit card scam is not much different. The transactions are usually lower because everything is electronic and must be available immediately, and they happen a lot faster. Also, the call you get after the deed has been done, will come from the credit card issuer's fraud department or an investigator or both.
Expect Neil or one of his associates, or even competitors to give you a call in a few months to see if you're more gullible then.
Check out this link from the Federal Trade Commission for more information on scammers.
This one from GO Banking Rates is another good resource.
A few good rules here:
If they're asking more about your rates and your ability to charge them than they are about your training background or your location or your availability or references or philosophies then listen to your gut, and toy with them a while, but don't cash anything or take any kind of payment from them whatsoever.