CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia businesses were among those victimized in a fraud scheme involving stolen credit card numbers and drivers who, in many cases, didn’t realize they were transporting illegally-purchased items.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Charlotte Division said just this year, more than 100 businesses were victimized, including tire stores, furniture stores, lumber companies, trailer businesses and appliance stores out of West Virginia as well as Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
In the scheme, large orders are placed over the phone using stolen credit card numbers. The FBI said oftentimes, drivers who were hired through online job sites and who were paid using third-party cash applications, took the merchandise to other states for resale, unaware of the scheme.
Days later, the FBI said, the businesses learn that the sales were fraudulent.
12 News affiliate WSPA in Spartanburg, South Carolina, interviewed FBI Public Affairs Specialist Shelley Lynch about the scheme and what businesses should look out for.
“The main red flag of it is that they’re calling over the phone and just giving a credit card number,” Lynch said. “So since businesses are not seeing these people in person and they can’t verify that that credit card belongs to that person by verifying that I.D.”
Lynch also shared what people who are looking for transportation jobs should look out for.
“Some of the things that are kind of odd about [the transportation] jobs, the job ad [posted by thieves] specifically, is that they’re asking these folks to go and either rent a box truck so that they can go get a large shipment of items,” she said. “They’re asking them in some cases to use their own vehicles, and so that is another kind of red flag that it doesn’t seem like maybe it’s necessarily a legitimate job.”
The FBI said its investigators believe there may be additional victims. Since the investigation is ongoing, the names of specific businesses or locations that were ensnared in the scheme are not being released by the FBI at this point in time.
Businesses that may have fallen victim to this scheme can call FBI Charlotte at 704-672-6100 or file a complaint online at tips.fbi.gov.