Cullman Police warn of returning scam that has local businesses out thousands of dollars

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 12:57 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CULLMAN, Ala. (WBRC) - A warning for business owners from Cullman Police as a recurring scam has made its way back to the area that’s costing local business owners thousands of dollars.

Cullman Police said it’s been a few years, but they’ve seen this specific scam a few times over the last decade. Now, the scammers are stealing money from local tire shops and dealerships.

“It just comes and goes from one area to another,” Sgt. Adam Clark with the Cullman Police Department said. “Here recently, we have had a few of them. Someone calls and orders, I think the last one was $22,000 worth of tires.”

Clark said it’s thousands of dollars worth of tires being ordered over the phone and paid for with multiple credit cards.

“The cards may or may not be good,” he said. “They may run one and it’s no good, so they go on to the next. Then, it may be good for $1,000 and then they move on to the next, using all stolen credit cards.”

Once enough cards go through, the scammers will send in someone to pick up the tires. Police said it’s often someone who doesn’t know they’re participating in a scam.

“A lot of these people will hire somebody that doesn’t have a track record of doing anything and they’ll just pay them to come pick up the tires, not knowing they are helping in illicit activity,” Clark said. “As the transactions get processed by the credit card companies, they realize that they are false transactions, so they kick them back. Now, our local businesses are left without the money. They are the victims here. They are the ones out of the money, not the person whose credit card is being used.”

The owner of the credit card can usually file a claim with the credit card company, but police believe it’s likely the same group of scammers each time.

“They’ll come into town and they’ll work for a little bit, then they will go to another town and then they’ll recycle,” Clark said. “They are leaving this town. They aren’t staying here in Cullman.”

He said these types of scams usually require multiple agencies to solve.

“Unless we get multiple agencies, all in involved, and we set up something, Cullman PD is not going to be able to recover all that stuff for them,” Clark said. “Don’t complete the transaction, because once those tires leave the store, now you are out of the money.”

“Nobody is going to use multiple credit cards to make a transaction, especially when the cards are coming back no good,” Clark said. “That’s a red flag. If I owned a business and I needed a bunch of tires, I wouldn’t go to a dealership, I’d go to a tire distributor. The fact that they are wanting to buy a large number of tires from you should be a red flag of itself.”

Clark said local franchise stores have also been getting calls from someone claiming to be from the regional or corporate office. The employee is then convinced to take money from the register to purchase cryptocurrency. Police said this is also a scam.

Get news alerts in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store or subscribe to our email newsletter here.