Scammers targeting Alabama businesses ask to use the phone, then reroute calls

DECATUR, Ala. -- A team of scammers hit several pizza business locations in the Tennessee Valley, posing as someone who walks into the store and asks to use the phone to make an emergency call.

Marco's Pizza in Decatur, Alabama and Madison, Alabama have been victims of this scam.

Shortly after the unknown scammer left, employees realized the phones weren't ringing -- definitely strange for the usual dinner rush.

When management called the phone company, they learned the phone line had been rerouted to an untraceable number.

"One of our stores was compromised for a short period of time," explained Jerry Schoo, the owner of Marco's in Decatur. "They did get a couple of customers to speak to. They placed orders with the scammers. The scammers got their credit card information."

Police said when the scammer got a hold of the phone, they dialed a special number to reroute calls so when future customers would call to make an order, the scammers would pose as the business and collect credit card information.

"You know, we think the best out of people, and things like that happen," Schoo said.

As soon as Marco's officials were aware of the situation they made sure their customers were both financially reimbursed and protected. Company leaders also took steps with the phone company to prevent this from happening in the future. They wanted to warn other business owners.

"I've got several people that have been in this industry for a long time, and they've never seen it either," Schoo said. "It's a new one on all of us."

Company leaders' recommendation to similar businesses -- and their new plan moving forward -- was that if any non-employee needed to use the phone, management would get involved and would insert the phone number into the phone for that person. That way a special code wouldn't be able to be used to potentially compromise the phone system.

WHNT was told that this scam was attempted at pizza locations in both north Alabama and central Tennessee.

Business owners can call their phone service provider to make sure their phones aren't vulnerable.

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