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OPP issues fraud alert to building material retailers

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The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Norfolk County Detachment want to alert all businesses that deal with building materials.

The OPP have received fraud complaints throughout the province from various retailers after they have received a call from a Montreal sourced group placing orders for construction material by phone using fraudulent credit card data. Materials sought have been plywood, thermostats and other construction material. The orders for these supplies exceed $5,000 and big box stores as well as private lumber yards have fallen victim to this ploy.

Investigations are ongoing and more victims are expected to come forward as businesses are notified of the fraudulent transactions.

Through investigation it has been determined that an unknown suspect from Quebec places an order for building materials by phone. A credit card is provided as payment and a third party is then hired to pick up the order immediately. The credit card information appears valid at first but later comes back as stolen or compromised. By then the materials have been picked up and moved, which in many cases has been to Montreal, Quebec. Other methods noted elsewhere in the province involve a legitimate delivery service picking up the order, but transferring it to another pick up address such as a rented mailbox address location where the materials are then collected.

It is suggested that merchants be diligent and ensure the credit card information is valid, preferably only taking credit data from cards presented in person. There have been cases where secondary identification was provided that was also later found to be fraudulent. Merchants are encouraged to contact the credit card issuers and confirm all information before processing a transaction. The adage “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” is a good one to keep in mind in these cases.

Anyone with information regarding this incident should immediately contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1–888–310–1122. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1–800–222–8477 (TIPS) or leave an anonymous online message at www.helpsolvecrime.com where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000.

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