Two Bend restaurants were victims of a scam in which a caller, who was able to spoof an owner or manager’s phone number, convinced employees to send the scammer thousands of dollars in money and gift cards. Police are warning businesses to be vigilant and to teach their employees about such scams.
The victimized businesses were Banger & Brews on SW Simpson Avenue and Shari’s North along Highway 97.
Bend Police say that on Dec. 28, a caller told a Bangers & Brews employee that the owner was being held by U.S. Marshals. The caller also reportedly said the restaurant was being audited and the employee needed to send $1,000 in gift cards in order to release the owner. The scammer was able to spoof the owner’s phone number and seemed to know information about the business and its employees.
The employee provided $1,000 in gift cards and another $1,000 from their personal bank account through an online app.
On Wednesday, Bend Police said they got a report from Shari’s North about another theft. Police say the restaurant manager reported that an employee received a call during the night from a person claiming to be the Shari’s corporate financial auditor.
Police say the caller spoofed the district manager’s phone number and alleged the restaurant had received counterfeit bills and that the Internal Revenue Service was conducting an audit and needed gift cards. The caller told the employee to empty the register and to buy gift cards with the money, then mail them to an IRS address.
A total of $3,070 in gift cards were sent to the scammer, police said.
Bend Police remind businesses that organizations and governmental agencies will not call to ask for money, especially via gift cards, to end an audit, arrest or other event. They are also urging businesses to educate their workers about the existence of such scams.