January 31, 2011, Milwaukee, Wis. – With Super Bowl fever at its peak, scammers are trying to cash in on the frenzy by targeting restaurants and catering companies using an old scam - the TTY relay scam - under the guise of placing orders for Super Bowl parties.
Over the weekend, a restaurant in Oak Creek, Wis., received a large order for food to be delivered during a Super Bowl party. The customer used the TTY relay system, a system which enables hearing impaired people to use a telephone with the help of a relay operator. The customer wanted to use a credit card to pay for the order and told the owner that, since the delivery company the customer was using didn’t accept credit cards, the restaurant would need to pay the deliverer in cash but would be reimbursed by adding the charges to the customer’s credit card bill.
According to the Wisconsin BBB, this is a common scam that targets businesses. Typically, the scammer is posing as a “customer” and using a stolen credit card. The money that the business pays the deliverer (a co-conspirator) is lost, in addition to the loss taken by the business when it fulfills the order.
“We want restaurants and caterers to be especially careful this week because we know they’ll receive lots of orders for Packers’ Super Bowl parties,” said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO.
The Wisconsin BBB advises that businesses watch for these “red flags”:
• The order is placed using the TTY relay system. Scammers often use the TTY relay system as a way to mask their real identities and things such as foreign accents or broken English.
• The “customer” asks the business to wire money to, or pay in cash, a third-party – such as a delivery company. When the credit card is discovered to be stolen, the business will lose the money it paid out-of-pocket to the third party.
BBB offers the following advice to business owners to help identify fraud over telephone relay services:
• If the customer is using a TTY Relay 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 customer that you will check with the bank and call them back. When you do that, keep good notes. Verify all information the customer provides. If a customer objects, explain that these procedures are for their protection, as well.
• If the customer still objects to providing any of the above information, abandon the conversation and advise that you are not prepared to do business this way.
For more information or further inquiries, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), (920)-734-4352 (Appleton) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).