With more and more business being conducted online and over the phone, Island Tire and Auto office manager Melissa Gold was pleased to receive a winter telephone order last Friday for 12 high-end tires with an approximate value of $2,700.
Ms. Gold ran the credit card through normal checks. All the information was valid. The caller checked in several times on Monday to ask when the tires would arrive.
Ms. Gold began to get suspicious when the caller, using a number that originated in Illinois, said he would be unable to pick the tires up because he had to go to the hospital, but he planned to have a Fedex driver pick the tires up for shipment to an address in Philadelphia. He faxed a cover sheet with a Fedex account number that included numerous grammatical and spelling errors.
“At which point I thought this is just not sounding right at all,” Ms. Gold told The Times in a telephone call Tuesday. “Who is going to call Martha’s Vineyard and buy 12 tires and have them shipped somewhere else?”
With more research, Ms. Gold discovered that the credit card had been stolen.
She said the scammers had all the correct credit card information, including name, address, and security code. When she told the caller the order had been canceled, his cell phone number no longer accepted calls.
Ms. Gold said she wants to alert other Island businesses to be cautious at a time when scammers know that business is slow.
A lot of consumers have used their credit cards on the Internet for shopping over the holidays, a credit card processor told Ms. Gold, opening the door to possible identity theft.
One piece of advice Ms. Gold received from a woman at the credit card processing company: change passwords. “It’s really important at this time, especially after the Christmas season,” she said. “If you did any online shopping you need to change your passwords. It’s something we get complacent about and don’t think about, I guess.”
Had the scam not been discovered, she said, Island Tire or the bank would have been out $2,700, Fedex would have been out the cost of delivery and a scammer would have received new tires.
“Especially this time of year, no Island business needs to take a hit like that,” she said.