On Your Side Alert: Scammers target Richmond-area catering business

On Your Side Alert: Scammers target Richmond-area catering business

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Scammers are targeting business owners by asking for a "favor." Falling for that mistake could cost thousands of dollars.

The pictures of Melissa Dixon's food speak for themselves. She's been in the food business for decades, most recently as a caterer.

But Sweet Melissa's recently had a sour experience after she says she was the target of the same scam three times.

"The last thing I said to him was, 'Good morning, I absolutely cannot transfer any money to an account. Too many dishonest people out there," said Dixon.

Melissa got a very normal looking request for catering in her email.

"She then informed me that she was hearing impaired and she would contact me through emails," said Dixon. "She had already seen my menu online and she had picked out what she wanted, so we emailed each other back and forth for several days."

It was a normal conversation, even discussing utensils for the event until she received an email asking for a small favor.

"Karen" on the other end of the emails wanted Melissa to wire $1,500 to cover some other items for the event. "Karen" then promised to pay Melissa the cost of the catering plus the $1,500, and even a tip.

"That sent off a red flag for me," said Dixon.

Melissa offered to use a check and suddenly stopped hearing from Karen.

Then, she knew for sure that she had avoided a scam. Thankfully, this happened before she made the food for 200 people.

However, she was targeted again a week later.

"She sent me a text message, but I noticed the number was out of state," said Dixon.

"Can I go ahead and pay you for the entire amount and you could wire money to my driver?" the person asked Dixon.

The third time this happened, she drove straight to police.

She was texting with a persistent man on the other end, eager to get her money right away.

"I hope you have charged my card through," said Dixon.

Falling for any of these situations could have cost Dixon thousands, which is why she shared her story with NBC12.

"I just think it's important for people here and everywhere to know what's going on, so they don't get taken by these people," said Dixon. "They'll keep going and going until they get someone. It's obviously working for them or they wouldn't have contacted me so many times."

Dixon never turned over a dime, but it did waste a lot of her time.

Better Business Bureaus across the country have issued warnings about this scam.

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