Fraud Scheme Targets Local Businesses

OCEAN CITY – Resort police this week are alerting area residents about a fraud scheme involving an out-of-country scam artist targeting businesses in the Ocean City area.

The OCPD this week issued a warning about a fraud scheme targeting local businesses with the perpetrators utilizing Text Telephone Yoke (TTY) relay operators. One Ocean City business has already been targeted, but contacted the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) before becoming a victim in the scam.

According to OCPD officials, the scam began when an unknown customer contacted a local business via a hearing-impaired TTY line and requested a large catering order with an estimated value of $1,100. In addition, the caller wanted $1,000 added to the bill, which would be paid for with a credit card OCPD detectives learned had been reported stolen.

The concept of the fraud scheme was for a courier to arrive at the targeted business to pick up the large catering order and to be paid the additional $1,000 in cash for his part in delivering the food. In this particular incident, the Ocean City business did not fall victim to the scam. However, had the business used the stolen credit card information provided by the suspect, it would have been out any money they had sent to the scammers once it was discovered the credit card was stolen. In addition to losing the money for the credit card theft, the business would also have lost the cost of its catering sales and product.

In light of the near miss, the OCPD this week is urging business owners and managers to look for certain red flags that may be associated with TTY fraud. For example, businesses should be alerted when the shipping destinations are out of state or out of the country. Another red flag is when the caller requests additional information to be charged to the credit card or account with the difference being paid in cash by the business.

The OCPD is also warning businesses to be aware when overnight or expedited shipping is requested for what appears to be a residential address misrepresented as a business address. Perhaps the most obvious red flag is when the caller does not question the purchase price and makes no effort to negotiate the deal.

The OCPD took the occasion to remind business owners and operators of the important of being diligent and cautious while taking orders over the phone by credit card. For example, business owners and operators are urged to take steps to ensure an order is legitimate and that the potential buyer actually has the credit card to be used in his or her possession.