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BBB warns of scams targeting local businesses, Painesville Smoothie King loses nearly $500

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PAINESVILLE, Ohio (WOIO) – The Better Business Bureau is warning of business scams in Northeast Ohio, including one that lost a Mentor Avenue Smoothie King $492.

“They are pretending to be the CEO or someone else in your business and they’re requesting funds,” said director of operations Ericka Dilworth in a Tuesday interview with 19 News.

The Bureau explained in a statement they received a complaint from the Smoothie King in Painesville last week. The scammer called the staff line and faked to be a police officer, fooling a younger employee into sending $492 in gift cards.

“They said the owners were in court and needed money to be sent,” Dilworth said.

The owner caught wind of what was happening less than half an hour later and tried to cancel the transaction, but the funds had already been redeemed. The BBB explained in their statement a similar incident happened in North Ridgeville through an email scam.

“Money is tight for everyone,” Dillworth said, “particularly a small business trying to survive day-to-day.”

No one from the Smoothie King location on Mentor Avenue was available for an interview today, but were informed that the calls continue to arrive; the scammers often claim to be different people altogether.

Dillworth says “it can be difficult to train every staff for everything that could possibly happen because these scammers are smart.”

She explains the best way to protect yourself and your business is to always double and triple check communications: “You can’t just respond to that form of communication, you got to stop, you got to redirect, and then reach out to your boss or whomever it is.”

Whether it be through a call, text, email or any other form of contact, these business scammers aren’t going away anytime soon.

They’re just finding any way possible to get in there and take advantage of people,” Dillworth said.0

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