Bah! Humbug! That's the holiday message a local business owner had for a New Jersey con artist who tried to pull a scam to buy two wood stoves with stolen credit cards.
That's the holiday message a local business owner had for a New Jersey con artist who tried to pull a scam to buy two wood stoves with stolen credit cards.
"If they're trying to do this to us, they'll be trying it with others," said Michelle Panik, who operates Richendollar's Stoves and Fireplaces with her husband, Joe, at 10402 N. Straits Highway in Inverness Township. "I just want to get the word out to others to watch out for this sort of thing."
Panik said she got an e-mail from someone who identified themselves as the Rev. Donald Cap, asking about certain wood stoves that she carried in her line of products. In the e-mail, the scammer said that a trucking company would pick up the stoves and offered two credit card numbers for payment. A Newark, N.J. address was listed for the billing address.
Panik said that wood stove sales have been high this winter as consumers look for ways to cut home heating bills, so the fake e-mail inquiry seemed at first to be on the level, but several red flags arose.
"First of all, why would somebody think it would be worth it to pay a trucking company to ship these stoves all the way to New Jersey, when there would be dealers in that area that sell the same stove?" Panik said. "The other thing was a notice from one of our manufacturers that warned of a person identifying himself as a bishop who might try to buy two woodstoves. The notice warned of a request for an urgent sale with obvious errors in grammar and composition, and that's what this was."
Panik said that the number on the credit card was legitimate, and because her credit card machine does not ask for names the ploy could have easily worked.
"I called Master Card to check on it, and both cards were stolen," Panik said. "They were not registered to the name Donald Cap. I ran the card by calling it in - I just needed to find out. Master Card has closed both accounts."
Panik said that demand is high for wood stoves, but that she would not sell to a customer outside her franchise area despite some dealers using the Internet to do so.
"This was unusual, but if they are looking in this area they may try it with others," Panik said.
"Businesses need to check for things like this, you just never know. I could have been out two pretty expensive wood stoves."
Cheboygan Daily Tribune