Scam Alert: Fake Client Calls

Small Businesses need to be on alert for potential fake client calls.
March 20, 2017


Honolulu, HI – March 10, 2017: Several Better Business Bureaus across the country have received reports from businesses receiving fake client calls. Businesses are reporting receiving calls from “clients” asking the business to charge a credit card for the work they need to be done, plus an additional amount to be forwarded to another company for additional work. 

One scenario involved a lawn company. This lawn company received a call from an out of state “client” who owned property in the lawn company’s area. They wanted to pay up front, with a credit card, for some sod work. On top of that, they asked the company to charge an additional amount to then wire to another company for additional work. Fortunately, in this situation, the credit card was declined. 

The businesses reporting these calls report that the callers often have thick foreign accents and a delayed speech as if they are reading from a script or using a computer to make the call. Many of these calls appear to be coming from long distance numbers, but there have been reports of calls using local numbers and businesses. Technological advances, allow scammers to make their calls appear to be coming from any location or number they like.     

If a business receives a call like this, they should ask to hang up and call back, to verify the legitimacy of the number and the caller. Also, it is never a good idea for a company, or a person, to wire money to an unknown third party. Wired money is difficult to trace and nearly impossible to get back should a problem arise. 

It is unclear what the end result of this scam may be, as the businesses reporting have not gone as far as to process and wire the asked for payment. This scam does appear to closely resemble overpayment and sweepstake scams, where the scammer overpays the victim with a bad check (or in this case a potentially stolen credit card) and then wire the additional money, leaving the victim to cover any expenses from the bounced check or bad payment. This could also potentially be another new twist on the “Can You Hear Me Scam?” tricking victims into unknowingly approving a purchase. 

If a business has received a call like this that they believe to be a scam, they should report the call, including the the number used, to the BBB

ABOUT BBB: For more than 70 years, Hawaii’s 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 The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.