Do an online search for the company name and website,
and look for reviews. If people report negative experiences,
you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth the risk.
Con artists often insist that people wire money,
especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossi-
ble to reverse the transaction or trace the mon-
ey. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers
who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to anyone who
claims to be a relative or friend in an emergency and wants
to keep the request a secret.
Scammers steal account information and then
run up charges or commit crimes in your
name. Dishonest merchants bill you for month-
ly “membership fees” and other goods or
services without your authorization. If you see charges you
don’t recognize or didn’t okay, contact your bank, card issu-
er, or other creditor immediately.
It doesn’t matter whether the message comes
as an email, a phone call, a text message, or
an ad. Don’t click on links or call phone num-
bers included in the message, either. It’s called
phishing. The crooks behind these messages are trying to
trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you got a
message like this and you are concerned about your account
status, call the number on your credit or debit card, or your
statement, and check on it.
Another major scam in retail has been, and
always will be, refund fraud. This works in a
few ways. A customer may walk into your store,
pick an item off the shelf, and walk over to the
register for a refund. Another variation is that they actually
steal the item from you or another store and then bring it in
for a refund. They may also buy one so they have a receipt,
then steal the same one in your store and present it for a
The biggest attack on your business from refund fraud
may be from a trusted employee who rings these bogus re-
turns and keeps the cash, store credit, or even credits the
refund to his or a family member’s credit card.
How can you prevent or at least detect this in your
• Establish a refund policy that must be followed at all
• Include in this policy that all refunds must be wit-
nessed and co-signed by two employees or a manager
and an employee. Also capture identification informa-
tion like name, address, phone number, and driver’s
license number for all refunds.
• Your POS system may even have the capacity to store
this information so you can look it up to see if some-
one has been a habitual refunder.
• Audit daily all refunds done at your business.
• Make sure to look for recurring SKUs, as many em-
ployees who may ring these fraudulent refunds for
themselves will remember a SKU that is at a price
point they think will float under the radar. You can
then do a count on that SKU to see if you have the
correct amount matched to your inventory system.
Remember, if an employee rings up a fraudulent
refund there is actually no merchandise being re-
turned but one is added to your POS inventory count.
This is actually hitting you twice because they are
taking money for something that was never returned,
and the value of the item is also being added to your
inventory. When you do inventory in your store the
value of the fraudulent return will also be added to
your shrinkage for the inventory period.
• Always have a loss prevention professional help you
follow up or interview a suspected scammer or dis-
honest employee because they are trained to find the
information that may lead to your company recov-
ering money or merchandise that you did not even
know you lost.
Keith L.Weiner, LPC has been in the Retail Loss
Prevention field for more than 30 years. He has
served as the Director of Loss Prevention for Dill’s
Best Building Centers and has done work for many
members of the NRLA. Weiner is currently the Pres-
ident of PRI Investigations & Process Service, a
division of Prevention Resources, Inc., a licensed,
insured & bonded private investigations company.
He can be reached at 845.464.4855 or K.Weiner@
Prevention-Resources.com. For more information,
and check out their Facebook page—
PRI Investigations. He can be reached for a free consultation for the right
security solutions for your company.
Author’s note: Keith Weiner is not an attorney and suggests that you speak
with your counsel prior to enacting or discontinuing any policy or pro-
gram to make sure that it complies with all federal, state, and local laws.
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