HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - We warn you about scammers all the time hitting your email or calling you on the phone but what about scams targeting small business owners.
If you own a small business, you know how much it takes to make it a success so when a scammer tries to steal that success, it hurts even more including your bottom line.
Combine coffee, biscuits, and pie and customers will come. Throw in catering and you have a recipe for success.
That was the thought behind opening Good Company Cafe this year in south Huntsville for co-owners Molly Jones and Angela Ozbolt.
For any new business to survive, you need cash flow and the promise of a big payout came by email.
“It was really just a cold contact, he asked if we did full service events, catering and everything and I said sure I can do that,” said Ozbolt.
And he wanted to spare no expense.
"It was just whatever it took to make it a great and special day for his wife," added Ozbolt.
Good Company Cafe was asked to cater a 10th year wedding anniversary, bring in florals and photography and by the end of it, the price tag was well over $13,000.
The problem, they could never seem to get this mystery man named Stanley Sawyer who claimed he was battling cancer to come into the cafe.
"He is out of town and unreachable, it was really weird," said Ozbolt. That was their first red flag.
“I gave him our phone number 3 or 4 times, asked him to call and he still hadn’t after the fourth time. I said I need to talk to you before, I hope you don’t take any offense but I need to make sure this is legitimate,” another red flag.
For weeks, this went on with excuse after excuse and then eventually he gave them a credit card number and that gut feeling set in.
"I called square, chase, then I called Visa. Visa said it was a Mastercard, so I called Mastercard. Then Citi card. It took quite a bit of pushing with Citi card to get them to tell me that it did not belong to Stanley Sawyer. It belonged to another client," added Ozbolt.
A stolen credit card.
The ladies reached out to the Better Business Bureau to verify if this was a scam.
Julia Cherry with BBB explained how this could have gone if they swiped the stolen card.
"The money would have ended up falling back on the business owner after the event was already held and the money was distributed to the vendors and it would have made the business owner responsible for the $14,000 event that they put on that they thought that they were paid for," explained Cherry.
Well this time it didn't work and these business owners are now more savvy because of it.
"Just be wary enough and know your resources," added Ozbolt.
If you are a small business owner, and you have a situation that doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to reach out the BBB to verify.