BRANDON, Fla. - Hillsborough County detectives are warning local businesses about a new rip-off aimed at local businesses. Taking Action Reporter Jackie Callaway explains just how it works and why employees are falling for it.
The con artist's weapon of choice is a phone. Detectives say someone posing as a corporate boss has been able talk local stores from Brandon to New Tampa out of money and merchandise.
Fast-talking thieves have dialed for dollars at Walmart, Advance Auto Parts, and even Denny's.
Cpl. Bruce Crumpler with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Economic Crimes unit says the caller knows enough about the business to convince the employee to refund money and store products to a customer who has complained about an item or service.
In several cases, the caller actually used the names of fellow employees and in one case even the owner which convinced the local business that the person on the other end of the phone really was a corporate boss.
Those who hire teenagers, like Subway and Burger King, have also fallen prey to the fake corporate calls.
Not one of the stores wanted to comment on camera about what happened, but Walmart issued this statement. "It's really unfortunate that someone would try to take advantage of others. We have alerted our stores and associates and provided guidance on how to handle such situations."
Another victim, Vitamin World, said, "We are especially dismayed by this incident in Clearwater where one of our associates, focused on providing a personalized customer experience, was taken advantage of by common thieves."
The sheriff's office is spreading the word so that more businesses educate their employees as to what is going on. Detectives are concerned that employees who leave the store to hand over cash and goods are putting themselves in danger.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Deputies are searching for two suspects who pried open and burglarized 72 storage units in the Town 'n' Country area. Similar burglaries have occurred at five facilities in recent weeks.