Action 9: Thieves stealing cellphones, having businesses pay bill

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Police said they're seeing a scam pop up more – thieves are stealing cellphones and making businesses take the fall.

A director of a preschool in east Charlotte said the school is one of the victims.

Tammy Miller has run Amity Presbyterian Preschool for six years and she said no one has ever scammed the school until now.

"A preschool, a preschool that's part of a church, you know, a ministry of a church," Miller said. "I found that very hard to believe."

Apparently, someone used the school's information, including tax identification number, to buy five cellphones from Verizon.

Miller said she never saw the phones, but she saw the bill: $666.

"I just thought it was a typo at first, but then, when we found out it was more than a typo, it was definitely our identity." Miller said.

Action 9 asked Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's financial crimes Detective Kevin Jones how the con works.

Jones explained the thief would use the business' tax ID number to buy cellphones and tablets from a cellphone provider. The thief would have the items delivered to the business and hope the owner isn't there and go by to pick up the package.

Jones said businesses need to protect their private information just like individuals would. The only problem is, with business like Amity, "There are many people that have that tax ID number."

It would include everyone who works there, used to work there, sent a child there or found a piece of paper with the number on it.

Jones said businesses that fall victim should not pay the bill and call the phone company immediately. Typically, the company will say call the police.