Heartland Being Hit by Telephone Scam

It appears the marketing scam that has been reported along the East coast and now into the southwest has also hit the country's midsection, though as has been reported by other shops, the script and modus operandi are changing.

Tim Janssen with Janssen Mirror & Glass in Shawnee, Kan., reported to USGNN that his company has been contacted multiple times over the last three weeks by persons requesting to order glass for cross country or international shipping, usually 30-50 pieces 30-inches by 30-inches by ¼-inch.

"We were suspicious almost immediately. It just didn't sound right. I figured they had [to have] a glass shop locally that they could buy from," Janssen said.

What set Janssen's experience apart from those that have reported the calls to USGNN is the final destination of the glass; he has received requests for glass to be shipped domestically.

"The first two calls wanted us to ship [the glass] domestically -to Minnesota and the other wanted us to ship it out West," he told USGNN in a telephone interview from his office.

The first couple of calls of this sort made to Janssen Mirror & Glass were made through the TTY relay devices, but the company has also received direct calls. Janssen told USGNN that the last time he spoke with a gentleman on this kind of call, when he pressed for more information, he was told "it didn't matter where [the caller] was, he needed the glass immediately." Once the callers established that the shop accepts credit cards, the persons requesting the glass then started contacting the shop via email.

As with the other reported scams of this nature, Janssen told USGNN that the person initiating the contact provided a credit card number and, already suspicious, Janssen discovered to have been stolen and the account frozen when he called the bank holding the card.

Janssen also told USGNN that when he made contact with the person who provided him the credit card number and explained that the credit card had been declined, the person immediately provided him with another credit card number. Janssen said he repeated the process of contacting the bank and was told the second number, too, was also stolen and the account frozen for "suspicious charges."

A quick check with other glass shops in the area and Janssen found that he was far from the only one receiving the calls; at least five or six others had been contacted by the same group and though Janssen called his local police department to report the scam, he was told there was little the local police could do to help, especially if those instigating the scam were, in fact, overseas.

Meanwhile, the same group has not given up targeting glass shops in New England. Donna Guiel of Guiel Auto Glass in East Hartford, Conn., reported to USGNN that her shop has started receiving the calls again. Guiel was one of the first to contact the news organization with information about the scam, and she said that this time the callers are requesting laminated glass. To try to get a feel for the call and see if it was legitimate, Guiel said she asked the caller-who was using a TTY relay machine-how many pieces of glass were being ordered and said the person told her only one lite of glass was needed However, when it came to placing an order, the caller wanted 50 lites of glass.

Guiel told USGNN that she was never asked for a price quote on the glass but they requested her fax number and she provided them with an email address.

"I asked how this would be picked up...I never did get an answer to this question. They wanted my fax #, I gave them my e-mail address and advised them that I would need to verify the integrity of this order due to an ongoing scam in the industry. Next thing I know they are talking t-shirts. It was not long before the caller hung up," Guiel said.


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