SANATOGA PA – Fraudsters from Florida hoped to cajole clerks at the K-Mart in Sanatoga into wiring them money via Western Union on Sunday (Feb. 2, 2014). Fortunately for the discount retailer, one of its employees was smarter than the bad guys gave her credit for, according to Lower Pottsgrove Police Detective Dan Kienle.
A woman claiming to be from Western Union called K-Mart at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday from the Fort Lauderdale FL area and said she was checking to “update the prepaid services portion” of that company’s money order machine. It sits inside the store at 2200 E. High St., Kienle reported. The caller asked the K-Mart employee who answered the phone to open the terminal, and supplied her with an account number.
Then the caller asked the employee to wire $944.15 to the account provided to test the terminal.
No warning lights flashed. No angry horn sounded. But the K-Mart worker instinctively knew something was amiss, Kienle said: she “realized this request was unusual and terminated the transaction.” And he received a call about the suspected fraud shortly afterward.
Kienle traced the phone number back to Fort Lauderdale, and learned more about other occurrences too. Turns out the local K-mart wasn’t the only store perpetrators have tried to hit. “K-Mart reported they have had similar incidents” elsewhere, the detective said; some of those transactions were completed, and the stores involved suffered losses.
The difference between them and Sanatoga? A quick-thinking local worker.
Problem is, Kienle noted, the same likely scam can happen to any other merchant whose business serves as a vendor for an out-of-town company that provides products or services of value. He asked that anyone who has been involved in a similar incident contact their local police; in Lower Pottsgrove, call 610-326-1508.
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