LETTER: Watch out for a new scam

I would like to bring up a business scam that we had encountered recently.  Perhaps it will allow other Asian restaurants, whom I think were the targets, to be aware and to be able to prevent this from happening.  We did not fall victim to the scam and we were able to record the whole process and conversation we were having with the alleged scammer. Here is what had happened:

-Someone called our restaurant and had asked for a manager or owner in regards to their City Light/Public Utilities/Puget Sound bill.

-They will say the payment you made had not gone through because their system was down and that if you do not pay within a certain amount of time, your power/electricity/gas will be shut off.

-They will then advise you to go to the nearest 7-11 store to purchase “credit/debit cards”(Vanilla, Greenstop etc.) and load the card with the amount due

-They will then ask for the full credit/debit card number including the back passcode that will allow them to take all the money from the card.

I reported this to the police but they are not very interested in doing much to resolve this issue as they said, “this happens thousands of times a day. We cannot really do anything about it.” I told them I wanted to report it so perhaps the police station can make others aware of this situation and that if they encounter a phone call like this one, they can avoid the scam. I am reaching out to you because I believe these scammers target Asian restaurants because we are more vulnerable to these situations. It would be wonderful if you could put this in your Seattle Chinese Post and/or Asian Weekly. This would be very helpful to Asian restaurants especially in the International District. A lot of restaurants could have been a victim already, but have not said anything. For myself, I have never encountered this before. (end)

— Ellen Ta

One Response to “LETTER: Watch out for a new scam”

  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the heads up! While I think this scam is obvious, there might still be others who are unaware and may fall to the scheme so it’s a good thing that we get information like this easily through different websites. There are also helpful threads at Callercenter.com that actually included the scammer’s phone number. With it, we can block the phone number ahead.

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