The Ocean City Police Department is advising businesses to beware of a fraud scheme from an out-of-country scam artist using Text Telephone Yoke (TTY) relay operators.  One Ocean City restaurant has already been targeted, however, contacted police before becoming a victim in the scam.

The scam began when the business was contacted by an unknown customer via a hearing impaired TTY.  The customer requested a very large catering order, with an estimated value of $1,100.  In addition, the caller wanted $1,000 added to the bill, which was to be paid for with what Ocean City Police determined to be a stolen credit card.  The idea behind the fraud was for a courier to arrive at the business to pick up the catering order and 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 they used the stolen credit card provided by the scam artist, they would have been out any money they would have sent the scammers once it was discovered the credit card was stolen.  In addition to losing money for the credit card theft, the business would have also lost the cost of their catering sales and product.

The Ocean City Police Department advises businesses to look for these “red flags” that may be associated with TTY fraud:

The buyer (or scam artist) orders multiple quantities of high end products.

  • The shipping destinations are out of state or out of country.
  • The caller requests additional money to be charged to the credit card or account, in which you provide cash for the difference.
  • Overnight or expedited shipping is requested to what appears to be a residential address but might also be misrepresented as a business address.
  • Initial credit card number is declined by the bank and the customer offers an alternative number.
  • Caller does not question the purchase price and makes no effort to negotiate the deal. 

Remember, best practice should always involve businesses exercising due diligence to ensure that an order is legitimate. Also, assure that a buyer actually possesses the credit card he or she is using.  Here are a few steps that may help protect your business from being a victim of this type of scam:

If the customer is using a TTY operator, ask the customer for his/her full name, address and telephone number.

  • Ask the customer to provide the name of the issuing bank and its toll-free customer service number as printed on the back of all credit cards.
  • Ask the customer for the three or four digit Card Verification Code that is found near the account number on the back or front of a credit card.
  • Tell the buyer that you will check with the bank and call them back. When you do that, keep good notes. Verify all information the buyer gives. If a buyer objects, explain that these procedures are for their protection, as well.
  • If the caller still objects to providing any of the above information, abandon the conversation and advise that you are not prepared to do business this way.
  • If the buyer insists on paying with a certified check, wait until the funds are in your bank account, before shipping the merchandise.

If you suspect that your business has been the victim of a scam or fraud scheme, contact the U.S. Postal Inspectors (phone 1-800-372-8347) or the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation (http://www.ifccfbi.gov/). Then, contact your local police department and BBB to warn other businesses in the area that they may be targeted.