Cream Bean Berry hit by intricate phone ploy, but losses avoided
Durango Police Department Cmdr. Casey Malone said businesses should remain diligent to avoid potential scams.
“The bottom line is the Durango Police Department and the FBI are never going to call anybody on the phone and basically tell them that they want money,” Malone said.
Cream Bean Berry, 1021 Main Ave., was targeted by a scam around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, said owner Katie Burford. A caller phoned the shop and told a Cream Bean Berry employee that the ice cream parlor had been a victim of fraud. The caller ID read “Durango Police Department.”
The person then told the employee that Burford was at the DPD station and the FBI was involved, Burford said. The caller claimed authorities had taken Burford’s phone to retrieve evidence and all of the cash on-site was now evidence. The caller then requested the cash be transferred to a special account for holding using MoneyPak.
Burford said the DPD caller ID made the scam seem convincing, but her employee grew suspicious. The employee called 911, at which point dispatch confirmed the call was bogus.
“I was pretty shaken at first,” Burford said.
“But I was relieved,” she said. “I felt bad for my employee. It was pretty stressful thing for him to go through, and after the fact, he felt bad that it had gotten that far. But I feel like it’s totally understandable how given the right set of circumstances anything can seem plausible.”
Malone said scammers have targeted other Durango businesses in recent months. On Oct. 5, Durango Police posted on Facebook that businesses should be aware of scams in which callers use fake ID’s and stolen credit cards to purchase high-priced items over the phone. The scammer uses someone they’ve connected with on social media to pick up and ship the item before they resell it.
The money disappears through online payment companies and then likely ends up overseas, Malone said.
“The perpetrators on these types of scams are not in the city of Durango. They’re generally out of the country, is what the end game is,” Malone said.
For Burford, relief was coupled with the knowledge that scams will continue to plague Durango businesses.
“Obviously, it’s working for them,” she said.