News to know
Glass shops fight fraud
Tips to identify ordering scams
Red flags for fraud
- Orders through relay operator for the hearing impaired
- Orders for large quantities of standard glass sizes
- Orders that require long-distance shipping
- Orders paid for with a check written out for more than the cost of the product
- Orders paid for with a credit card that has a different billing address than the shipping address
In August, Alpine Glass and Mirror in Avon, Colo., was targeted in an ordering scam that could have cost the company upward of $3,500 if employees hadn’t caught it in time, says Jerry Healey, owner.
“We received a call for 30 pieces of 30 inch by 30 inch clear tempered glass with flat polish. The customer used a hearing impaired transmitter to make the call and had a blocked caller ID,” Healey says. “The customer gave a credit card for deposit … and requested that we ship the glass to Ghana to a charity he is supporting."
When Alpine Glass employees explained they could not ship products, the customer located a shipping company and requested employees to run the shipping costs of $3,500 on a second credit card. He then asked that Alpine Glass wire those funds directly to the shipping company, Healey says.
Alpine Glass employees contacted the credit card company before running the second card and discovered both credit cards were stolen. If the transactions went through, the company would have been out $3,500 for the shipping plus the cost of the glass, Healey says.
The glass shop isn’t alone. In an Aug. 21 e-glass poll, almost 16 percent of respondents said they had been a victim of an ordering scam. More than 27 percent said they had been targeted for a scam but caught on before it cost them.
Shops that have received fraudulent orders can contact local authorities at the police department or the regional field office for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, says David Furlong, investigator for the Utah Division on Consumer Protection.
However, Furlong says the most effective way to protect a business against fraud is to be vigilant and recognize warning signs. “The main thing to get this stopped is education within glass companies. Recognize the patterns,” he says.
Chris Cutler, inside sales manager at Arch Aluminum and Glass Co.’s Salt Lake City operation says she has heard many reports of almost identical scams from her customers. One scammer targeted Arch directly.
The orders all had three things in common. “Number one, the orders came through a relay operator. Number two, they always wanted large quantities of either 1/8-inch clear or ¼-inch clear in the same size. Number three, they wanted to ship it somewhere,” Cutler says. “These are the major red flags. Why would a legitimate customer want you to ship standard-sized glass to New York, for example, when there are plenty of companies in New York that can provide them with the same glass?”
Some of the scams had even more red flags, such as one shop that had the fraudulent customer write a check for $700 more than the cost of the glass and request the shop provide them the difference in cash, she says.
Shops that carry other products also need to be wary, Cutler says, as the scammers aren’t just making fraudulent orders with glass. “One customer said someone called them wanting 200 glass cutters shipped to New York. Another customer wanted the same thing with paint, and another in Wyoming that received a call wanting garage doors shipped to Hawaii,” Cutler says.
“It’s amazing how many people have had these phone calls,” she says. “A lot of companies say they only take cash, and that immediately stops the conversation.”
—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter Editor, e-glass weekly