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Crafty Scammer Cons Businesses By Refunding Himself Through POS Device

A sophisticated scammer is targeting businesses in South King County manipulating payment processes
UPDATED FEB 23, 2024
Cover Image Source: A Person Holding a POS Machine | Pexels | Kampus Production
Cover Image Source: A Person Holding a POS Machine | Pexels | Kampus Production

In a concerning trend impacting local businesses in South King County and South Seattle, a fraudster is manipulating payment processes to defraud unsuspecting business owners. The King County Sheriff's detectives are currently investigating multiple cases where the scammer feigns payment issues and then takes advantage of the situation to fraudulently refund substantial amounts.

Local grocery store (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Image Source: A grocery store | Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

One victim, Winnie's Ethiopian Coffee and Deli, fell prey to this scheme, losing $1,300 earlier this month. The owner, Winnie Meshesha, recounts the incident where the scammer, seemingly a healthy and young individual, ordered food and claimed that his Apple Pay wasn't working.

Meshesha allowed the customer to manually enter his card number on the point-of-sale device, only to discover later that he had slyly initiated a refund of $1,300 while she was momentarily distracted. Meshesha, determined to warn other businesses, shared her experience with fellow entrepreneurs.

Shockingly, the scammer showed up at her friend's shop a week later, attempting to trick the owner. This pattern of targeting multiple businesses has left local entrepreneurs on high alert.


The modus operandi involves the scammer insisting on manually entering his card number due to alleged payment malfunctions. Once granted access, the perpetrator manipulates the transaction, issuing a hefty refund to himself, often surpassing $1,000. The victims, caught off guard by the apparent technical glitch, find themselves at a loss.

In a similar incident last June, Macadons, a macaron and ice cream shop in Renton, also fell victim to a scammer employing a similar tactic. The suspect, posing as a customer with payment issues, managed to defraud the store of over $1,000 by exploiting the trust of the employees.

Woman preparing her local shop | Pexels | Photo by Streetwindy
Image Source: Woman preparing her local shop | Pexels | Photo by Streetwindy

Renton Police offer valuable advice to businesses to safeguard against such scams. Meghan Black, a communications manager for Renton Police, advises business owners to trust their instincts. "Don’t let them have access to any of your electronics. You just say I’m sorry," she said.

"Tell your employees, if there’s something that feels off – like why would they need to input their credit card information manually? It just doesn’t feel right," she added.

Getting the favorite food delivered is |Pexels|Photo by Norma Mortenson
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Norma Mortenson

Meanwhile, proactive efforts by businesses have proven effective in preventing additional scams. Kebana Restaurant and Market, having been forewarned about the con artist by Winnie's Ethiopian Coffee and Deli, successfully thwarted a potential incident when the suspect attempted the same scheme at their establishment.

The habit of buying expensive things spontaneously results in unnecessary overspending. Think thoroughly if you really need the item and then swipe your card|Pexels
Image Source: Credit card scams | Pexels

The impact of these scams extends beyond financial losses, often leaving business owners feeling violated and vulnerable. Therefore, organizations are urged to remain vigilant and educate their employees on recognizing suspicious behavior.

As the King County Sheriff's Office intensifies its investigation into the matter, anyone with information about the suspect is urged to contact them, referencing case number C24004712. The local community is advised to stay alert and proactive in the face of evolving scams targeting small businesses.