Nova Scotia

Cape Breton garage targeted by tire scam

Larade's Tire Shop in Chéticamp, N.S., was conned out of more than $5,000 when thieves cancelled an order of eight tractor-trailer tires purchased through a credit card — after the tires were already shipped.

Shop in Chéticamp, N.S., shipped tires worth $5,520 before payment fell through

RCMP say a scam is targeting tire business across Canada with losses reported in Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Alberta. (Radio-Canada)

A  Chéticamp, N.S., garage is among a number of Canadian tire sellers that have been scammed out of thousands of dollars.

RCMP say thieves have targeted businesses in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta and Manitoba with more than $20,000 in total losses reported.

Sherry Bourgeois works at Larade's Tire Shop in Inverness County, which was recently targeted by the scheme. 

The garage lost more than $5,000 after shipping tires to an address in Montreal only to find the thieves cancelled payment through a credit card company. 

"It's a kick in the rear end and it's frustrating," said Bourgeois. "I have to admit we do kind of feel stupid here. But now we're looking at all the other places that were duped, too. So I guess it is a very good scam, it really is."

Bourgeois says her husband's business has become used to phone calls from different area codes as many new people have moved to the area, and often customers phone from out-of-province looking to outfit vehicles amid an ongoing tire shortage.

Bourgeois said the scam began when a stranger phoned in August looking for eight tractor-trailer tires that cost $600 each. With tax, the order totalled $5,520.

She said the purchaser left a phone number, email address and paid through an approved credit card purchase. 

The business shipped the tires and received confirmation they arrived. But the garage was later notified that the order was cancelled and deemed fraudulent. Subsequent phone calls and emails to the customer went unanswered.

Cpl. Chris Marshall of the Nova Scotia RCMP said this type of crime is growing as more local business are selling products beyond their typical markets.

"This could affect any business, especially businesses that are used to fulfilling orders from other areas, or are used to shipping orders," he said.

"The biggest thing first and foremost would be to ensure that the payment has been received prior to shipping the items out that are being purchased. So, you know, ensuring that that money [has] been received in your business bank account."

Larade's Tire Shop will dispute the charge with the credit card provider and check whether any loss may be covered by insurance.

Bourgeois said they've never had a problem with scams in their 12-year history. However, this crime could change some of the ways they do business.

"We have to be a little more skeptical with people. But we've never had an issue and it's just —  we were given so much information."

Bourgeois said she hopes whoever is responsible for the crime is caught and punished, so that other small businesses are not duped out of their hard-earned cash.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Pottie

Reporter

Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 15 years. Story ideas welcome at erin.pottie@cbc.ca.

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