Kiosk Computer owner Rob Knorr is wiping his brow after narrowly avoiding being duped by a pair of suspected scammers.
Over the period of a month, the pair allegedly tried to bilk his Whitehorse-based business out of $10,000 worth of electronics.
“As a small business I’m the sole proprietor and that would have ruined me,” said Knorr.
Last month, Knorr got an offer that seemed too good to be true.
A man named Daniel Blue, who claimed to be calling from Ontario, wanted to buy five laptop computers — a sale that would have brought $10,000 to Knorr’s two-year-old company.
It seemed a good offer.
As a middleman, Knorr would research laptop vendors and find Blue the best price for the computers.
But something about Blue didn’t sit right with Knorr.
Blue called Knorr through IP relay, a service that allows people who are deaf or unable to talk over the phone to communicate through an operator.
Blue claimed to work for a non-profit that helps other non-profit organizations.
He called the company Traders Emporium, but he didn’t give any specific names of non-profit societies it was associated with.
“He was vague, I couldn’t get specific information from him — he just danced around,” said Knorr.
Blue told him that he chose Kiosk because it was a small company. He needed personalized attention, he said.
They had a few conversations over the phone and then moved to internet messaging.
When Knorr asked about payment for the laptops Blue found every reason to put it off.
By this time Knorr knew something was rotten.
He began researching the situation and, after punching a few keywords into Google, Knorr ended up at a website called Scam-o-Rama.
The website outlines some of the most common phone and internet cons. Listed there was one called the Deaf Relay.
The facts of the scam mirror what happened to Knorr.
Late last week, Knorr was contacted again, this time by a woman who called herself Margie Messienger.
She told him that Blue was ill and was in the hospital so she would take over the laptop purchase.
But she could only pay by credit card — a service Knorr didn’t have set up at his business.
Knorr set up the account, which cost $269.
Messienger gave him a credit card number for the purchase.
When Knorr ran it through the machine, it was declined.
Messienger promised to check the credit card provider and contact Knorr again a few hours later.
That was last Thursday. Knorr hasn’t heard from them since.
Now Knorr is a little more than $300 (the cost of setting up the credit card account) in the hole. It could have been a lot worse.
Knorr is making a point of getting his story out so others don’t fall for the same scam.
“I’m not embarrassed — I was aware I covered my bases and asked for the correct information and didn’t take it too serious when they gave me the runaround,” said Knorr.
Similar scammers have contacted other businesses in town, but the owners haven’t come forward.
“It think they’re targeting this area code.
“This has happened several times in the city, but no one’s heard about it,” said Knorr.
“If other people had stepped up and had gotten this into the media, I might not to have waste $500 and a month’s worth of time.”