Scam Calls to Glass Shops Remain Steady, Often Frequent
Monday's glassBYTEs.com™ article about the telephone scam targeting glass shops prompted a flurry of feedback from readers sharing their experiences with the scam - each different than the others and one with a surprising twist.
Angie Fett with Vos Glass in Grand Rapids, Mich., wrote to say that her company received a call the very day the most recent story dropped on glassBYTEs.com. As has been the case with many of the "original" calls of this kind, the call Fett took was made through a relay operator and the person was requesting pricing information on "60 pieces of 30- by 30-inch, double-strength glass."
Before the call got underway, Fett said the relay operator identified herself and said she was aware of telephone scams originating from the Internet and using relay call services. The operator still had to complete the call, however, which included inquiries about the forms of payment the shop accepts. Fett reports that when she told the operator that she recognized the call as part of the scam network that was targeting the industry, "would not sell materials to this customer" and asked the operator to tell "the person to please stop calling and wasting my time," the operator said the person using the relay service had terminated the call.
Fett also noted, as have other glass shop employees who have contacted glassBYTEs.com, that it's not unusual for a shop to receive this kind of scam call more than once, even after making it clear to the first caller that the glass shop employees are aware of the scam. Fett noted that prior to Monday's telephone conversation, Vos Glass had received a similar call at least once before.
As previously reported on glassBYTES.com, the scam is not limited just to the United States, nor are the destinations to which the glass is allegedly to be shipped always in Africa. Extractor/Crystal Glass Canada in Edmonton has received two calls requesting a "truckload of windshields" be shipped to Florida.
"On both occasions we advised them to buy from a manufacturer in the [United States] because we were based in Canada," wrote Win Parnell.
Part of the problem with stopping the scam is that the calls that go through the relay systems are hard to trace. Advantage Auto Glass & Trim received a call of the scam-kind back in September.
The call followed the same outline as others had been receiving at the time: the caller wanted a large number of windshields for high-end cars (BMWs) shipped to Ghana and the "shipping was to be paid via Western Union payment to the shipping company he had chose."
While shop owner Ron Lingley was reviewing the information, the company received another call of the same kind, requesting an equally large number of windshields (this time for a Camry). Now suspicious, Lingley obtained credit card numbers from the second caller; a check turned up proof that the caller was not an authorized user of two of the cards and one card had been reported stolen.
"The bank (in New York) told me this was a case of computer/credit card fraud and would be hard to solve because all we had was a computer address (one in Rhode Island and one in [Los Angeles])," Lingley wrote.
He also spread the word about the scam, to prevent others from falling victim to it.
"Once I emailed [the caller] that I needed 100 [percent] in advance and shipping was his expense/problem, all contact ended. I then called the wholesalers we use to notify them of the scam so nobody else would get stuck," he wrote. Recently, though, he found out that not everyone had heard about it.
"I was just talking to a shop in Newfoundland, Canada, who told me of a similar 'deal' and when I told him of my experience, he now knows what is going on," he said.
One of the keys to protecting the company is ensuring that all employees know about the scam and how they are expected to deal with it.
"Our customer service reps are all aware of the ongoing scam, but have to be considerate to the relay callers; they've noted how frustrated they are with the amount of time is wasted out of their day too," Fett wrote to glassBYTEs.com
"Luckily, everyone on our staff is fully aware of the scams," wrote Kathy Cassata, president of Glass Doctor in Daytona Beach, Fla., who reported that she received the company's first scam call on Tuesday. "The caller indicated that he was emailing, and to check my email immediately … he wanted the glass shipped to Alaska. I included a copy of yesterday's GlassBytes about the glass scams-so he knows that we are aware of what is going on. We tried to *69 to track the call, but it was blocked."
To date, Cassata is the first to report an inability to trace the call.
Spring Glass & Mirror, Ltd. just outside Houston experienced the scam on a very different level than most others have.
"We had someone who actually walked into our place of business. He also asked about shipping glass out of the country. He drove a taxi here in Houston. I got his license plate, cab number, etc. and reported it to the authorities," wrote Denise Lewis. Though the incident took place in late November and she hadn't heard anything from the authorities since then.
CLICK HERE to read and join the discussion about the scam on the AGRR/glassBYTEs.com message boards.
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