Greater Oklahoma City Chamber - Small Business Helps Bust International Fraud

Small Business Helps Bust International Fraud

HomeWetBar.com and Local Authorities in Illinios Work Together

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 5:15 pm

by Rodney Brazil

On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, thieves attempted to steal over $6500 in merchandise from online retailer HomeWetBar.com. Moving quickly and recognizing the patterns of fraud, the suspicious orders in question were flagged, and action was taken to stop production and capture the thieves responsible.

Kim Strain, the customer service manager at HomeWetBar.com, an Oklahoma City based online retailer said, "It's horrible that people try to steal from small businesses. It was exciting to help catch these thieves". After calls to the customer regarding the suspicions transactions went unanswered, she notified the company owner.

Within minutes the orders were stopped in production, and the appropriate authorities were notified. Keith Winter, owner and President of HomeWetBar.com said "We take fraud very seriously. We're a small business, so we have to. As soon as Kim and our warehouse manager, Jamie, alerted me to the fraud, we contacted the authorities in their area to apprehend them." Bringing together the resources of the customer service team, warehouse management, the shipping company, and government authorities, the investigation began to move very quickly. Officers were able to pinpoint the fraudulent shipments within minutes.

Authorities returned to the residence where the illegal purchases had been delivered, and were surprised to find dozens of packages from a variety of online retailers, all purchased with credit cards opened under a stolen identities. Everything from whiskey decanters to a refrigerator was right on the doorstep. It became clear that this was a much bigger operation that was originally suspected. Soon after, authorities apprehended a suspect who had allegedly been aiding a ring of criminals based in Africa. The female suspect, who has not yet been named, provided stolen personal information to international thieves, who used the data to obtain lines of credit. Online purchases were delivered to multiple addresses, and she would ship the contents overseas. "Catching these criminals today was a team effort." Winter remarked.

Winter also pointed out, "Credit card fraud affects real people. It's not a victim-less crime. Every time we catch one we get a little better at detecting it the next time. We're very grateful for the efforts of law enforcement in this matter. Not just for our sake, but for the other small businesses impacted, and victims who had their credit cards stolen as well."