BrandSource dealers are urging their fellow members to be ever more vigilant as criminals attempt to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis.
In one recent incident, a BrandSource store was defrauded out of $10,000 in appliances via a phone order and a stolen credit card.
In an email to BrandSource’s Kevin Werner, General Manager of Member Relations, the owner said he was able to thwart previous attempts, but that this time the theft wasn’t detected until after the order shipped and was delivered.
To help fellow members avoid similar incidents, the owner flagged these criminal patterns that should serve as red alerts:
- The fraudulent orders are never made in person; they always come in via phone or Internet;
- The orders always included multiple items and carry a high dollar value; the customer isn’t concerned about the price;
- The customer always declines delivery and insists on picking the items up himself;
- The items are picked up by a freight truck;
- The customer insists on being notified as soon as the items leave your store; he then can contact the trucking company and change the delivery address.
- The police are unable to help.
The owner noted that the delivery address for his fraudulent purchase changed three times before winding up in New York, and that the thief actually called again to order three $5,000 TVs.
Separately, after batteries were stolen from his diesel trucks last month, Mark Pardini of Pardini Appliance & Mattress in Ukiah, Calif., reported a second incident, in which a person called from North Carolina to purchase a washer for a relative in Pardini’s town. The bank released more funds after the credit card wouldn’t clear, and a gang of youth’s showed up at the store to retrieve the item after the buyer declined Pardini’s offer of free delivery.
In retrospect, “It sounded like a boiler room operation,” he told YSN. “They know how to game the system.” He also received a call from someone posing as a utility representative who threatened to shut off his power if he didn’t pay an “overdue bill” immediately by forwarding funds from a local Staples.
“If I’m getting these attempts, hundreds of other dealers are too,” he said.
Pardini’s advice: Take orders through your websites rather than over the phone, which offer a higher degree of protection. That of course requires a transactional website and a payment gateway, which AVB Marketing is ready and willing to implement for members.
BrandSource websites in particular have a high level of security and privacy measures in place, such as installing SSL certifications and blocking any malicious activities on member sites, noted Yu Lee, AVB Marketing’s Administrator for the Magento eCommerce platform.
“We also recommend that members utilize the fraud protection features of their payment gateways like AuthorizeNet and PayPal,” he told YSN.
Pardini warned that similar criminal activity “may increase over the coming weeks,” and urged all members to keep their guard up.