7 On Your Side
Flag company scammed
NEW YORK (WABC) -- The family flag business started by Lauren Libertore's father has made flags and banners for generations and never had anything go wrong.
"From day one we never had a problem, never had a charge back before or anything . This was a total shock," Lauren Libertone said.
Last sprin, Lauren and her husband were unwittingly duped by an international scammer, which cost their small business 8-thousand dollars. It was also days of work-in design, labor, material and shipping that they thought was for a good cause.
"He has churches all over the world that he sends to poor areas," Pat Libertone said.
A man calling himself a Reverend ordered banners from the American Flag company in Little Ferry, New Jersey, alleging his church needed the signs for charity work.
The company says it produced a hundred of them.
They took a deposit on a Mastercard.
"The total bill was 13-thousand and we asked for a 5-thousand deposit. He gave us a credit card and it went through no problem," Pat said.
When the job was complete, they called the so-called Reverend for full payment.
"We were sending it out overseas and he says run the card 2 payments. Ran the first one came up declined, we called him he gives us another number. A day later he said to break it up into two payments and both went in no problem," Libertone said.
Then it got worse. Part 2 of the scam, the customer asks the business to wire transfer cash to a shipping company to get the goods overseas.
"He wanted us to wire the money to this company in Africa or South Africa and they would take care of everything, but we were suspicious we ended up going with UPS," Pat said.
It cost a thousand dollars to ship the banners to an address in Finland. No one ever picked them up, and then - remember that $13-thousand put on 4 separate credit cards? All the numbers were stolen. When cardholders reported the fraud, the American Flag company got charged back thousands.
"You know, you're protecting the card holder, but what about the merchant?" Lauren said.
Merchant services approved all the credit card sales. The flag company appealed, but lost. We called the credit card company to see if there was anything that could be done. After all, all the cards went through approved. The credit card company said the business should have heeded all the tell tale signs of a scam, such as mismatched addresses and multiple cards to split the sale.
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