Local Liquor Stores Fall Victim To New Scam, Police Investigating

Thursday, August 27th 2015, 6:38 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa police say local liquor stores are falling victim to a new debit card scam, and investigators are warning all businesses to be on the lookout.

Police said the people behind the scam will call a liquor store, order thousands of dollars’ worth of alcohol then pay for it over the phone with a stolen debit card number.

Red Sky Liquor owner, Clarence Smith, said most of his customers buy their alcohol in person, but once in a while he said he’ll get a phone call that doesn't sit well with him.

"I used to get them all the time, and they're going to want to order Patron, they're going to try to get all the high-end, maximum bottles. When I get someone on the phone like that, that's an automatic, 'We need to talk,'" Smith said.

Tulsa Police said, in the last month, it has happened several times.

The scheme involves at least two people - a man and a woman.

Police said they get their hands on a few debit cards - either stealing them from mailboxes or breaking into cars. Then, once they have them, they call liquor stores posing as caterers and try different numbers until one is accepted.

According to Tulsa Police Corporal, Steve Whittington, they've scammed stores out of hundreds and thousands of dollars' worth of high-end liquor.

"The biggest red flag is, if they're going to take an order over the phone is, if they give you a card and it's declined and then they give you another card and it's declined. They continue doing this until one is accepted," he explained.

Smith said he rarely allows phone orders.

He said if he doesn't personally know and trust the customer he asks for several forms of verification - like billing zip code and email confirmation - before putting the order through.

"There's gonna have to be multiple things to show that it's actually their card, and it's their person," Smith said.

Police said anything else is just too risky, especially for a small business.

"I hope businesses will be on the lookout for this and not fall victim to this because we are talking several thousand dollars involved here," Whittington said.

The scam is hitting other cities as well. Police in Sand Springs and Grove have reported similar crimes in the last month.

Tulsa Police said they do have a person of interest.