A business owner’s keen eye helped police seize $100,000 in flooring that was fraudulently purchased.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, Kelowna, B.C., RCMP say a local business contacted them last week about a possible scam.
The scam involved a man purchasing a large amount of hardwood flooring using fake identification and a stolen credit card.
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According to police, Peter Kowalski of Kelowna Floors had negotiated a deal with someone named ‘Steve Brown’ for approximately $30,000 in hardwood flooring, which was to be shipped across the country.
“As per company policy, Brown was required to provide a copy of his identification,” Kelowna RCMP said of the July 5 transaction. “And when he did, Kowalski became suspect of the identification.”
Police said Kowalski gave them the identification, which they confirmed to be false.
RCMP also said Kowalski, through industry associates, found that the suspect made similar fraudulent purchases at competing businesses, including $25,000 at both Express Flooring and Dannburg Flooring.
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Express Flooring told police that a pickup was scheduled, giving them an opportunity to intercept the transaction.
On Friday, July 7, Kelowna RCMP intercepted a freight company truck that had arrived to collect the product from Express Flooring.
“The driver and passenger from the vehicle were arrested,” police said, adding that they were later released as it’s believed they had no knowledge of the fraudulent transactions.
Police say they seized approximately $100,000 worth of flooring also believed to be fraudulently obtained from stores in Richmond, Kamloops and Salmon Arm.
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“The vehicle was scheduled to transport the flooring to Quebec on July 10 with additional stops and pickups beforehand,” said the RCMP.
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“The businesses associated with the additional pickups were contacted and informed of the fraud.”
Police say they’re still investigating and are engaging others for help.
“This is a textbook example of why stores should have internal policies as it relates to high-value purchases using credit cards, especially over the phone,” said Cpl. Michael Gauthier.
“Thanks to an observant store owner and cooperation from a few others, we recovered and likely prevented another handful of high-value, fraudulent purchases.
“We rely heavily on the professionals in our community to identify when something doesn’t feel right. And in return, only ask that they reach out for our help when it doesn’t.”
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