INDIANAPOLIS – The owners of a small Indianapolis business are warning other locally owned stores to be on the lookout for scam artists after they lost more than $3,000 worth of merchandise.
It happened on Friday, when an out of state customer came into the Vacuums & More store on the 5300 block of E. 82nd street.
“A very nice gentleman came in and he gave us this whole long story about how he needed a new vacuum for his grandmother and a new vacuum for his mom,” remembered Kyla England.
Her family has owned the store for 34 years and said trusting their customers has always been the business model. The man’s story about coming into town from California to take care of his family tugged at her and her brother’s heartstrings.
“(He talked) about how his grandmother was ill and how this vacuum would help her so much,” explained Ryan England. “(He) gave us her name in case she had questions about it.”
The man picked out three top of the line items; two vacuums and an air purifier. The total rang up as $3,174.69. But when it came time to pay, the customer’s credit card was declined.
This happens, the both of them thought, especially when customers are from out of state.
“I thought, ‘Oh, he’s from California. It’ll be fine’,” said Kyla.
That’s when the man said he’d call MasterCard to figure it out.
“He used his own cell phone to call MasterCard to get an authorization code,” said Kyla. “He got an authorization code and he told it to me by him speaking on the phone with someone from MasterCard and I was able to force through a transaction.”
Everything seemed fine and the Englands helped the man load up his truck.
On Monday, Kyla said, she got bad news.
“The credit card number was stolen and the forced transaction that went through would be coming back out of our account,” she said. “Our hearts just both sank.”
The siblings actually found their stolen items on eBay, but before they could buy them back the account was frozen for fraud.
“He had done this before. He was prepared. It was a total scam,” said Ryan.
“There are so many local small businesses that this can happen to,” added Kyla.
They said they learned a big lesson the hard way. For the first time in three decades, they are looking into adding surveillance cameras. And while they’ll still do anything to help a customer out, they’re a little smarter on how to protect themselves.
Now they want others to know what to look out for.
“We’ve taken really well care of our customers and to have someone come in and take advantage of us and our kindness so much just really hurts,” said Kyla. “It really digs deep.”
The stolen items police are looking for are:
Miele C3 Brilliant
Serial # 1340523266
IQ Air Health Pro Plus
Serial # 043273403
Riccar 8955 Premium Black Upright
Serial # (will be updated)
If you find these items, call IMPD and Vacuums & More immediately.