Local bakeries are being targeted by a foreign crook placing orders for fancy wedding cakes. The scammer (or possibly a ring of cons) uses a stolen credit card to pay for the cakes then instructs the businesses to wire money to a company that will pick up and delivery the cake. But the story is just frosting designed to hide an ugly truth – there’s no shipping company; just a con artist named “Steven Nicole” in Toronto waiting to pick up the money from Western Union or Moneygram.
The orders are often placed over the phone through a TTY operator. TTY is used by the hearing impaired. Cons prefer the service because it disguises thick accents and makes calls untraceable. Follow-up correspondence is by e-mail.
A Portland bakery spent 60 hours making a $2,000 cake for 300. The cake spoiled after nobody came to pick it up.
A Bellingham bakery lost $980 cash and had to eat the cost of its $1,500, five-tier cake.
After local media sounded the alarm, other bakeries have also come forward to say they’ve received similar calls.
Wire transfer scams aren’t new, either. All Consuming has warned you about the grandparent scam, the mystery shopper scam, the puppy-for-sale scam and the sweepstakes scam, among others. Today, I bought a necklace from a Seattle designer who told me that she had lost more than a grand to some overseas slimeball who ordered her custom jewelry. “I wish I had known you earlier,” she told me.
The bakers and jewelry designer all said the same thing: They were flattered that someone so far away seemed interested in their work.