A scam involving fraudulent faxes to body shops has police on alert in Saskatoon, Canada, and similar scams carried out by e-mail and phone have continued to plague shops all over North America throughout 2009.
The Saskatoon Police Service Fraud Section said this week it has received complaints from body shops regarding a fax they’ve received. The author of the fax requests the shop do work on a 2007 Jeep Range Sport HSE. The fax is introductory and encourages the body shop to communicate further with the supposed potential customer via fax or e-mail.
Saskatoon fraud investigators warn that further communication could lead to an “overpayment scam,” where the fraudster will make arrangements for the work to be done on the vehicle, send a stolen or forged check for thousands more than the work would cost and request the body shop refund the excess money by way of money transfer.
Shops around the U.S. have reported similar fraud attempts being carried out by IP telephone relay services for the hearing impaired and via e-mail. The fraudsters often say they’re contacting the shop from out of the area, need a vehicle towed and are willing to pay for repairs out of pocket. A scammer will usually say that his or her towing company of choice won’t accept credit cards and will request that the shop charge a credit card and wire him or her cash to pay for towing.
Most recently, Mike Orso, New York State Auto Collision Technicians Association (NYSACTA) president, shared a poorly written e-mail his shop received from a scammer in October:
Subject: CAR REPAIR
From: [email protected]
This is Dr Dennis Summer, please my uncle had an accident on is way to visit his family in Florida and i want the truck tow back to the state here in your shop so you can repair that for him, can u handle that for me. The truck is presently in Florida and my uncle that owns the truck lives here in the state and we have to tow it back home here for repair according to the woman that recommend your shop to me said you are very perfect and good in body repair do you promise me a very good job on my truck.
The truck is 2007 Cadillac Escalade and there is no insurance involved am paying personally for the repair also the tow guy will have it drop to your shop for the repair by next week Friday.
Also i will need a little favor from you because i haven’t pay the tow guy who will bring down the truck to your shop and he doesn’t accept credit card and do you accept credit cards. The favor is that i will give you my credit card to charge for the sum of $3000 and deduct the sum of $500 as deposit for the repair and send the remaining $2500 to the tow guy via western union money transfer so he can deliver the truck and once he deliver the truck you can write an estimate for me for the remaining balance of the repair and i hope you can handle that for me cos i was told that you are one of the best auto repairs in that area so that’s why i called you on phone.
In online comments, BodyShop Business readers have reported getting as many as three scam phone calls a day and receiving forged checks in the mail from fraudsters. One shop owner said he spent two days trying to help a person who turned out to be a scammer before realizing the person’s request for repairs was bogus.
Shops receiving fraudulent or suspicious e-mails can report them to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.