BBB Alert: Suspicious “Customer” Targeting Businesses

  
     
February 08, 2017


Columbus, OH - Your BBB wants local businesses to beware of a new twist on a wire transfer scam that has popped up in neighboring states and could be headed toward Central Ohio. So far, landscaping, electrical and tree service contractors have been contacted in neighboring states.

Here are the reports BBB has received: A “customer” calls a landscaping, electrical or tree service contracting business claiming to be an out-of-state client who owns a local property. The “customer” offers to pay upfront with a credit card, but explains that another contractor for a different type of work has also been at the property but could not accept credit cards, so they were unable to pay them. They offer to pay you the amount for your work with some extra money, asking for you to pay the other contractor for them by wiring the money to them.


After processing the full amount on the card and wiring the money, businesses were contacted by the credit card company stating that the card was stolen and the charges were reversed, leaving the businesses out the wired money. Other businesses found that the card number was declined. The “customer” responded by asking them to try other credit card numbers they had on hand that were also most likely stolen.


BBB tips for avoiding this scam:

  • Be wary of anyone who is willing to pay you extra money, especially if they ask for you to wire money back to them or to a third-party. Receiving checks or other methods of over-payment is most likely a scam.

  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. If an out-of-town client who is not willing to meet you in person seems suspicious, they most likely are. Meeting the client beforehand face-to-face and doing a walk-through of the work that needs to be done is a good way to build trust on both ends.

  • Trust your gut in high pressure situations. It can be tempting to take a credit card upfront if someone is willing, but ask yourself “Why the rush?”, especially with a contracting job. A business’s comfort level is just as important as the consumer’s.

  • Talk it over. If a job seems strange, like a client asking you to pay one of their other contractors, talk it over with your colleagues or call your BBB at 614-486-6336 for assistance.


Business owners and consumers can visit BBB Scam Tracker to see which scams are near you.

 

About BBB
Since 1912, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB serving Central Ohio was founded in 1921, and serving 21 counties in Ohio, is one of 113 local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Media Contact:
Kip Morse 
kmorse@centralohio.bbb.org
614.754.4560