CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — For some business owners, there’s a frightening new batch of scams going around that can damage their reputation. One small wholesale company in Crossville has been the target of these scammers for the past year and a half.
Warehouse One is a wholesale business that buys out of season goods, customer returns, or closeouts from retail stores. They then sell the items by pallet or by tractor-trailer load to mom and pop shops, thrift stores, auction houses, and similar businesses. They do not offer online sells but you wouldn’t know that because Warehouse One’s address has been hijacked by online scammers.
Warehouse One’s General Manager, Kim Hanock, showed us websites where Warehouse One’s physical address has been stolen, but not its name. However, when customers make their purchase, the goods never arrive from the fake sites.
“As we get the calls, we’ve dealt with people who are in tears. We have dealt with people who are angry. In order to make themselves look like a legitimate business, they use us because if you look Warehouse One up, we are a legitimate business,” said Hanock. “Our latest letter is actually from the Office of the Attorney General for the state of Illinois.”
Hancock says a number of people have filed complaints with state offices against Warehouse One. One of those letters reads: “I checked the address before purchasing and saw it was a warehouse. I purchased a large box and a medium box for $60.”
“There is no way to help this woman. She thinks she has been scammed by us. We have had nothing to do with it,” said Hancock on the letter.
For example, here is a big purchase made to Coinbase Inc and paid thru Pay Pal, but Warehouse One’s email was used.
“This gentleman purchased $800 worth of coins from a company using our address and mimicking our domain name,” said Hancock. As big as it is, Warehouse One does not deal with coins.
To help those who lost money thru Pay Pal, Hancock prepared a script and sent it to people who bought stuff on fake websites. She has one goal in mind, “get their money back, hopefully. Most of them were successful. At times, we had them back within 24 to 48 hours.”
None of the goods on these fake websites were purchased from Warehouse One, but it’s this local company’s good reputation that is taking a hit. The letter-writing campaign Hancock initiated in September continues to be sent to about 12,000 people who have fallen victim to the scam.
Warehouse One has filed a report with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department about the scam, but it is out of their jurisdiction. The business has also reached out to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation which in turn passed it along to the FBI.
While the warehouse does not sell to the public, we have reported in the past about fake websites where individuals have been ripped off. In both situations, the key is knowing who you are dealing with, in other words, is the website legitimate? Plus, if the deal “sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”