Recently, a Sunset Hills, Missouri, Jimmy John’s restaurant unexpectedly closed.
There was a sign on the door that said it had to temporarily close because of fraud.
But it wasn’t a computer hacking or cyber-attack that forced the store to close, instead, it was a theft carried out by two managers.
The store’s owner, Steve, was completely truthful with the public regarding the reason he closed his store.
You see, if you visit any type of fast-food establishment, you’ll likely see a sign that says your next meal is free if you don’t get a receipt.
Now, most customers probably don’t care about their receipts. But this policy is meant to keep employees honest, not customers.
The theory is that giving the customer a receipt forces employees to complete the transaction and prevents them from canceling the order.
Plus, most establishments want customers to let them know if they don’t get a receipt because this could be a sign of trouble.
Because if a customer pays in cash and doesn’t get a receipt it would be easy to delete the transaction.
The employee can put the order in, give the customer their food, and put the cash in their pocket.
And if there is no receipt the transaction wasn’t completed in the system.
This scam is exactly what had been happening at the Jimmy John’s franchise.
Steve was forced to close his store after a husband-and-wife management duo embezzled nearly $100,000 in cash payments from customers.
The owner of the store noticed the cash receipts were larger on the days the couple was off work – a pattern that held over many weeks.
Next, Steve had several of his friends go through the drive-thru when the couple was working to see if his friends were given receipts.
Of course, they weren’t.
The way the scam worked is the manager would take an order at the drive thru.
When they knew the customer was paying cash they would make their change, then delete the order.
The two managers stole $100,000 on top of their $115,000 a year salary.
The reality is that receipts are valuable, and can be used for different crimes.
So, you should always ask for a receipt and destroy it at home if you no longer need it.
That said, here are a few ways criminals can use your receipt.
How often do you walk out of a store and throw your receipt in the trash can outside the doors?
Chances are most of us have done this at some point because we know we don’t need the receipt.
The problem is that criminals could be watching.
Shoplisting (not to be confused with shoplifting) is when criminals use found receipts to commit crimes.
Fraudsters will pick up discarded receipts and then go to the retail store. They will steal the items that are on the receipt, then return to the store with the items and receipt.
Then they’ll get a refund for the stolen items since they have a legitimate receipt.
Receipts often contain the last four digits of your card number. This isn’t enough for a criminal to do much with.
But these days many retail stores offer some type of rewards program.
These programs often include cash back or other perks if the customer spends a certain amount, and the customer’s rewards account is usually included on the receipt.
In other words, the receipt could be used to access the customer’s rewards account online or in-store.
This is commonly done with gas rewards at places such as grocery stores.
Customers earn gas discounts by spending money at grocery stores. But criminals can use the receipt to access the account at the pumps.
Essentially, the criminals can get the discount on gas that was earned by the legitimate customer.
Adding to your receipt:
All restaurants and even some service-oriented stores will let you add a tip on the receipt.
Usually, you will receive two receipts. One for you and one for the establishment.
Always make sure you take your copy with you. Also, fill it out so that even if you lose it the amount cannot be changed.
Also, never leave the receipt unattended, and don’t leave the restaurant or place of business until the staff has picked up the completed receipt from you.
These days, thieves can change the amount of tip or even the total to charge more to your card. They may even run the card twice to get more money.
Even if someone added a few dollars to your tip amount it could add up in the long run.
The bottom line is, even though your receipt might not have a lot of information it can still be used to commit theft against you or the company.