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Restaurant, floral shop suspect scam

It seems as if restaurants will have to look carefully at unusually large orders for takeout food and florists at last-minute requests for wedding arrangements after two local businesses had to ward off suspected scams.

According to the staff at Madison’s Subway Restaurant, someone attempted to order a large number of sandwiches from the sub shop earlier this week and obtain money related to the order through fraud.

According to Jean Kinsella, Subway’s manager, an employee received a phone call late Monday afternoon in which the caller requested a food order for an Oct. 7 wedding in the area. The caller wanted enough sandwiches to feed 178 people.

An unusual factor in receiving the phone call was that it came through a service for the hearing-impaired called AT&T Assist. The hearing-impaired service allows persons who are deaf to type a message to an on-duty operator, who in turn speaks the message to the person receiving the call.

“All (the service operators) do is speak what is typed by the person at the other end and then type in the reply,” Kinsella said.

The employee told the caller that he couldn’t take that large of an order without speaking to Kinsella, who was gone for the rest of the day. Before disconnecting the call, the person making the order left an e-mail address where Kinsella could contact him the next day.

When Kinsella e-mailed the person on Tuesday, the food order was moved up to Sept. 30. However, Kinsella said the message didn’t include any orders for specific types of sandwiches. The potential customer did tell Kinsella “to tell her the amount and she would put it on her credit card.”

Curious about the e-mail messages, Kinsella contacted Camp Lakodia at Lake Herman about any upcoming weddings, since the camp has held events for hearing-impaired persons in the past. The staff said they had no large events scheduled until later in October.

Still later, Kinsella was speaking to her sister, a floral shop employee in Madison, and asked her about any large wedding parties that may have ordered flowers. After explaining the unusual food order, her sister warned her of the suspected scam.

Kinsella was told that the floral shop had received an order for flowers and the customer had asked the shop to pay the driver during the pickup. The customer had requested that the floral shop put the charges on a credit card.

The shop staff determined that the flower order was a fraud and reported the incident to authorities. Detective Justin Meyer of the Madison Police Department reported that the scan is one version of fraud known as the “Nigerian check scam.”

After talking to the floral shop staff, Kinsella e-mailed the customer, telling them she was aware of the fraud attempt.

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October 9, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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