GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation said there’s a multi-state theft scheme happening in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
Now, they want you to be able to spot the signs.
While business owners work diligently everyday to bring in hard earned money, investigators said scammers have been on the prowl.
“There’s people every day–there’s people trying to think of ways to get money from you that you work for,” said Billy Brown, owner of Brown’s Tire and Muffler.
The FBI in North Carolina said fraudsters have been using stolen credit card numbers to make large purchases over the phone.
“Once a purchase was made over the phone, items are picked up by drivers and taken to other states for resale. In many cases, drivers were hired through online job sites and paid using third party cash applications and were not aware the items were purchased illegally. Days later, the victim businesses learned the sales were fraudulent,” a press release from FBI North Carolina said.
Brown said something similar happened to him a few years ago.
“I had someone call and make a large purchase. They gave me the credit card. It went through. Everything went good. They wanted me to actually mail them the tires. They sent the UPS sticker with it, to do it, and I did all of that and then come to find out the purchase got denied,” he said. “And that’s when I knew it was probably a stolen credit card,” Brown said.
The FBI said so far this year, more than 100 businesses have been targeted, including lumber companies, trailer businesses, and tire, appliance, and furniture stores in multiple states.
While Brown was victimized years ago, he said it’s bad that it’s still going on.
“That’s bad because that hurt, because that purchase at that time I think was $1,200 and it was like four years ago, and that’s a lot of money. For a small business to lose that kind of capital, and if it happens multiple times, I mean it could really hurt a small business man,” Brown said.
Brown said since the incident, his business has been more careful.
“Here lately, I’ve been a little more cautious about doing anything over the phone. We try to do everything in person,” Brown said.
Now he is offering advice to other businesses.
“I would just say just to be careful with anything over the phone, especially if it’s a customer that you not recognize or something that somebody haven’t dealt with ever before…to try to stay away from any phone purchases or credit cards over the phone, is the best practice to have,” Brown said. “If you’re going to do them, just make sure you know the person– and know that you’re going to be okay with getting your money,” he said.
The FBI said they believe there may be additional victims out there. The FBI tells 7-News they are working with several local law enforcement agencies on this ongoing investigation.
FBI Charlotte said businesses with similar unsolved crimes should call them at 704-672-6100, or fill out a complaint online.