Consumers aren’t the only victims of fraud.
Every year, thousands of small businesses are targets of fraudulent or deceptive sales practices. One local stain glass company was targeted by a foreign scammer who wanted to purchase stain glass windows for a home he didn’t even own. When in reality, he just wanted the business’ money.
Ellen Caillouet said, “The first week in October is when the first contact came in and at first it was a phone call and it was ‘I would like to buy some stain glass.’ He said, ‘I will text you with some details.'” Ellen and George Caillouet own Absolut Art Glass Studio in Lafayette making glass art for over 40 years.
A scammer recently targeted their business.
“I started getting texts from him right away and we did a lot of back-and-forth with texting and he gave me the address of the house that he had bought. He asked me about using his credit card to give the down payment and I said ‘well, we used to take credit cards but we no longer do. We don’t have a merchant service any longer.’ So he said, ‘well, you have to get a POS’ which means point of sale. So I said, ‘well, I could do that, but I would prefer it if you would get some cash off of your credit card and give us cash,'” added Caillouet.
The scammer texted Caillouet six sizes of stain glass windows that he wanted in the new house that he supposedly bought.
“It all came up to around close to $16,000 and I wanted an $8,000 deposit,” explained Caillouet. “Well, that’s when he really got serious about getting a POS.”
It all seemed okay… or so the Caillouet’s thought… until they looked up the address of the home.
“These are the pictures that he sent me of the house that he was supposedly buying,” said Caillouet.
Caillouet continued to say, “My husband looked up that address that he had given us, contacted the real estate company that was listing it, and they said that they had not shown it in many months and that it was still for sale and not sold and then they offered to give us the name of the owner so we contacted the owner and the owner said he knew nothing at all about that and had not been contacted so now we’re worried again.”
That’s when Caillouet just knew… this was a scam.
She explained, “This is not a true sale. This is something someone is trying to do and I didn’t even understand what it was he wanted to do other than get our money or get our information that would’ve led him to our bank and led him to our money.”
Caillouet was advised to block the scammers’ number.
Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana you can follow to protect yourself from small business scams:
- Be suspicious of overpayments
- Know who you’re dealing with
- Watch for unusual methods of payment
- Never agree to wire funds to a buyer
If you have a scam you’d like me to investigate, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.