A story about a purchase and shipping scam in Alberta, published in the
April 2007 issue of Glass Canada, seems to be widespread. Two readers
in Ontario contacted editor, Chris Skalkos to report that they too were
targetted by a glass scammer with a similar method of operation.
A story about a purchase and shipping scam in Alberta, published in the April 2007 issue of Glass Canada, seems to be widespread. Two readers in Ontario contacted editor, Chris Skalkos to report that they too were targetted by a glass scammer with a similar method of operation.
The scam first surfaced last September among reports from glass shops in the southwestern US after a man under false pretenses called several glass shops to order quantities of glass with stolen credit cards, asking that the product be shipped to a destination in Africa. The caller insists the glass shop contact a specific international shipping company with the details of the product to be shipped and then the shipping company charges the glass company, through a money order, for the cost.
However, this is just a front because the ‘so called’ freight company is involved with the scam. The point of the scam is to trick the glass company into paying for the freight believing this would be reimbursed, but the scammer, who is also behind the fake shipping company, then cashes in and disappears, taking the money with him while the credit card company’s insurance covers the charges applied to the stolen credit card.
The scam artist, going by the name of Mr. Mark Henri, contacted Gary Leis of South Country Glass in Medicine Hat, Alberta, where he was stopped dead in his tracks after Leis became suspicious when the caller did not question the price of the large glass order.
“I got a phone call from a guy who wanted to order a large quantity of 30 by 30 inch clear glass. This was kind of a large order for us and I first got suspicious when the price I quoted didn’t phase him,” recalls Leis.
“Hello, this is Mr. Lovebridge”
Cyndi and Jim McConkey of Apple Auto Glass in Brantford faced a similar situation when a caller claiming to be Mr. Christian Lovebridge contacted them. “He called with a big order, but he didn’t ask about price and didn’t ask about volume rates,” says Cyndi, adding that he ordered 40 pieces of 30 by 30 inch table top glass. “He didn’t even ask about the tint, thickness of the glass or how the edges would be finished.”
She said the caller, speaking with an accent, sounded like he was in a hurry and she could hear a lot of chatter in the background. “When I asked him to call me back on a land-line, he got upset,” she says, adding that the caller seemed to be using a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone that showed a different phone number on her call display each time he called their shop. “We were suspicious right off the bat. We have never seen a request for such a large order without questioning the price, but he provided a credit card number and he even had the three digit security code from the back of the card.”
Her husband, Jim says they passed this on to the police and they tried to get the scammer to come and sign a work order to set up a police sting, but the calls suddenly stopped. “He kept calling to ask why we haven’t processed his order and we kept making excuses to give the police time to track him down,” says Jim, adding that Apple’s head office issued a warning to all its branches warning about this. “I have heard of other shops who were contacted. It appears to be widespread,” he says.
Alarm bells went off
Les Prosser, of Shower Door of Canada in Toronto, says his company was targetted by the same people, but he did not fall for the scam. “We got a request via e-mail for 200 pieces of glass in a specific size,” says Prosser, adding that the person went by the name of ‘Anna’ using an e-mail and providing what seemed to be a legitimate phone number in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Since the company does a lot of business via the internet and through e-mail, there was nothing suspicious at first as the caller seemed to ask all the right questions regarding the size of the glass products being ordered, until Prosser asked about the shipping. She wrote that she already arranged the shipping, but the shipping company does not accept credit cards or cheques, insisting on a cash transaction.
“I said that I could ship it for $200 but she insisted on using this other company that would charge $1100, so right away I knew something was not right,” says Prosser.
His suspicions were confirmed when the scammer revealed that the shipping address was in Ghana. “That’s when the alarm bells went off.” -end-
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