JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A family-owned transmission repair business was targeted by a customer using the name of a charity to get a bargain.
Several months ago, a customer brought his transmission into Cottman's for repairs.
"He came in and asked to have the transmission of his Acura rebuilt," said Andrea Wade, the owner of Cottman's repair shop.
Wade said the customer gave her a Florida Department of Revenue tax exempted document and claimed he was with the Children's Home Society. He also gave the repair shop a purchase order that claimed the transmission was from CHS.
Wade said the documents were convincing; they would have given the customer a break on taxes on the price of the work. but when she started asking questions, red flags went up.
"We needed the VIN number, and called the (telephone) number he gave us and it was bogus. Then we called the Children's Home Society and they had never heard of this man," said Wade.
She said she confronted the customer for payment and he tried to pay with an outdated check, which she refused.
Coincidentally, a few days later someone broke into her business and stole the same transmission. She filed a police report for the break-in. "I'm out of $1,900," said Wade.
Kimberly Cook is the executive director of Children's Home Society. "It is unfortunate," she said.
Cook said it has been turned over to her corporate office for further action, but she has a warning for businesses.
"If there's any question whatsoever, just call us. We'll be more than happy to speak with you, to check our invoices. Just give us a call," said Cook.
Police alerted Wade that there are other businesses in her area that were duped by the same person.
The police have suspended their investigation because so far they have been unable to identify the suspect.
The message here is that if you're solicited by someone who claims to be associated with Children's Home Society or any other non profit agency, verify the information before becoming a victim of a ruse.
First Coast News