Fraudsters are always coming up with new scams to glean money off people and their new target seems to be retail shops. One of the most recent scams doing the rounds seems to the fraudulent refund scam and retailers are strongly advised to keep an eye out for this ruse.
According to reported incidents, the store manager (or person in charge) receives a call from a person claiming to be from the Head Office, calling to deal with merchandise return at the store. They then go on to inform the manager that they have received complaints from a certain supposed customer who tried to return some merchandise at the store recently and was denied, and is upset about it. They continue to state that the merchandise and its receipt has since been sent to the Head Office and is now in possession of the caller. However, they have asked the customer to return to the store and ask the store manager to ensure that the customer be given a full cash refund without a receipt or merchandise present. The caller may present this, or slight variations of this story to the manager, but whatever the story, the modus operandi remains similar.
How do they sound convincing?
Even though the plot seems far-fetched, the tricksters have been able to sell it effectively to many stores. They are familiar with the workings of retail operations and use language and tactics that will prompt the store employees to respond. For instance, they may insinuate that if the situation is resolved quickly and without any issues, there will be no need to register the customer’s complaints officially, and in a way implying to the manager that complying with the request will keep the manager and his employees out of trouble.
On many occasions, the caller seems to have known the names of the manager and even the names of some employees, they are also aware of the location of the head office of the store. Adding all these details makes their call seem legitimate and the store officials are easily tricked into believing the ruse and act out according, refunding a false customer the amount for a merchandise that was never bought.
What can you do if you receive such a call?
We advise all store managers and employees to double check any such calls with the Head Office and to report them immediately to the suitable authorities. If you receive such a call, it is recommended that you excuse yourself from the call, and ask if you can call them back. They might give you a phone number to call back. Do not use that number, but place a call to the Head Office using the company provided contacts and channels to verify the account. If the Head Office denies placing any such request, immediately report the incident to the police along with the number that was provided to you.
Fraudsters keep trying new tricks and this one is the latest, so stay on your guard!