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FBI is warning businesses of a multi-state fraud scheme

So far in 2022, more than 100 businesses have been targeted, including tire stores, furniture stores, lumber companies, trailer businesses and appliance stores.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The FBI Charlotte Division is warning businesses about a fraud scheme with victims in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia and Kentucky.

The FBI said fraudsters use stolen credit card numbers to make large purchases over the telephone. So far in 2022, more than 100 businesses have been targeted, including tire stores, furniture stores, lumber companies, trailer businesses and appliance stores. 

The FBI said once a purchase was made over the phone, items are picked up by drivers and taken to other states for resale. In many cases, drivers were hired through online job sites and paid using third-party cash applications and were not aware the items were purchased illegally. Days later, the victim businesses learned the sales were fraudulent.

RELATED: Have you received a text from a wrong number? It could be a scam

FBI Charlotte is working with several local law enforcement agencies on the investigation and said they believe there may be additional victims. Businesses with similar unsolved crimes should call FBI Charlotte at 704-672-6100 or tips.fbi.gov. Law enforcement agencies investigating similar crimes should contact their local FBI office or agents in their area directly.

RELATED: Secret shopper scam: How you can avoid falling victim

Tip to avoid becoming a victim of a scam 

  • Emotional appeal
    Any pitch that ratchets up your emotion will inhibit your rational judgment. 
  • Sense of urgency
    You MUST act now, or else. 
  • Request for unorthodox payment
    Gift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, etc. 
  • Explanations that don't ring true
    If your new “landlord” can’t show you the inside of the house, that could be because they don’t own it. 
  • You won, now pay up
    It’s not a prize if you have to pay for it. Taxes, fees, shipping, whatever. 
  • Too good to be true
    That’s because it’s not true. Sorry, your long-lost relative didn’t die, leaving you millions. That car you bought online for a third of its Kelly Blue Book value doesn’t really exist. The son of a billionaire diamond broker didn’t “swipe right” on you and fall instantly in love. That work-at-home job paying you hundreds of dollars an hour for stuffing envelopes isn’t real. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

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