PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - A Port Charlotte business owner says he was nearly scammed out of thousands of dollars by someone claiming to be disabled.
Frank Jensen's 'Moe's Southwest Grill' franchise just opened in August in Port Charlotte. Catering has quickly become a big part of the business.
"I take catering orders all the time. 99 percent of the catering orders I take are over the phone, I never see the person," Jensen explained.
In September, he received a phone order sent through a relay operator - used by people who can't speak.
"I've never received a phone call like it," Jensen said. "He said he was getting ready to go into surgery, he wanted to get ready to take care of party planning now..."
It was a 200-person birthday party order at a cost of $3,000. Jensen was sympathetic to the caller's request, and started work immediately for the party. But as he worked to arrange payment later, the order unraveled.
"He asked me to wire an additional thousand dollars to a party planner he had hired, because he was unable to do it himself because of his handicap," Jensen said. He was given addresses in two different states for the supposed party planner, and soon found the credit card number for the supposed customer wasn't theirs.
"This guy was looking to scam me. And he almost had me."
After the relay call, the customer only communicated by e-mail and instant message; no address, no phone number. Jensen stopped the order before the restaurant lost anything, and now wants to warn other small businesses who could be targeted too.
"I would love to put a stop to people like this in general," Jensen said. "That would have hurt me. Big time."