A recent credit card scam in Greater Victoria is costing local businesses money.
Robert Barron, owner of Re-Buy-Cycle Shop in Langford, is out thousands of dollars. The bike shop spends much of its time doing volunteer work, including a free bike exchange program for kids and also donates bikes to community members at Westmont School and for Syrian refugees.
“Trying to run a business off of 30 to 40 per cent of your time is a challenge, and now this happens,” Barron said. “This really could put me out of business – it’s devastating.”
Re-Buy-Cycle has had eight chargebacks for over $5,000 from prepaid credit cards used to purchase bikes. It came through the point of sale (POS) device as a “forced sale”.
Barron said four different prepaid cards were used. One card was used three times and had three different signatures attached to it. They even asked one customer, who had been in twice to purchase high-end bikes, for his identification, which he provided and it checked out. Barron said even his bank said the transactions and signatures look official.
Barron has made calls to other bike shops and local businesses to make them aware of the situation, noting “it’s on my mind everywhere I go, I’m losing sleep over it,” he said.
He is working on resolving the issue but his POS provider, First Data, only allows disputes five days after the chargeback occurs. Black Press Media has reached out to the company and are awaiting a response.
Jason McLean, owner of Delhi, a restaurant on Government Street, was scammed by a man who purchased two soft drinks and then told McLean that he had overcharged him. The drinks were $5.25, but the “forced sale” receipt said he was charged $52.25.
The “forced sale” on the receipt is common in his business as he has a lot of American customers through his restaurant and their foreign credit card transactions go through as forced sales. McLean said the restaurant has never refunded customers before, so he thought it was strange, but refunded it anyway.
Further to refunding the money, there was a chargeback on McLean’s statement from First Data.
He called the company to dispute the chargeback, but they said he was told the onus is on the store to get a signature from the customer. The store is run by McLean and his wife, so he doesn’t have time to hover over people while they pay for their food as he’s getting orders ready.
McLean called and left a message with West Shore RCMP on Sunday to report the incident but has yet to receive a response.
Black Press Media contacted West Shore RCMP for comment but have not received a response.
“It’s our first scam in over three years, it’s definitely a learning experience for us,” McLean said. “We’ve told other businesses out here how they do it.”
He said the incident changes the way the store handles their payment processes. Delhi no longer accepts prepaid cards and they have put a lock on the refund button on their POS.
Cory Kowalchuck, owner of WestShore Gold and Silver, a jewelry store in Langford, was nearly scammed by what he described as a man in his 30s and a woman in her early 20s.
He noticed the behaviour of the duo in the store was strange.
“He had a hat pulled down fairly low while he was looking at the jewelry, they were kind of jumpy and made some contradictory statements,” Kowlachuck said.
The man picked out a bracelet and went to pay for it, telling the girl that if his card went through he would buy something for her. The card he used to pay for it was a MyVanilla Plus prepaid swipe card and when the man swiped his credit card the transaction went through as a “forced sale”. The man told his girlfriend it was working so they began picking out other items quickly without trying anything on – all amounting to a few thousand dollars.
He realized the two were up to something and asked for the man’s card and the bracelet back while he called Elavon, his POS provider. He was told that the transaction was likely fraudulent and that he would probably get a chargeback, plus a fine. Kowalchuck reversed the transaction right away.
The two left the store empty-handed but the man returned less than an hour later in different clothes and said he really wanted the bracelet, to which Kowalchuck confronted him that he was aware of the man’s scam.
Kowalchck explained that the “forced sale” does have a purpose in his business, if the power goes out or wifi connection is cut he can still push a sale through.
After it happened Kowalchuck called local jewelry stores to give them a heads up and he shared photos from his security cameras on social media.
In all cases, it’s still a mystery as to how the scammers forced the card through, if they use a code that goes into machine, bypassing the authority from the credit card company or if they called their credit card company later to dispute the charges.