To Stop a Thief


Credit card fraudster meets his match

Bob Ball is an equipment in dealer in western Missouri and a 20-plus year member of the Western Equipment Dealers Association. His dealership, Ball Power Equipment, is located in Parkville, a nifty little town of slightly more than 5,500 that sits close to the Missouri River.

But the size of the town tells you nothing about the people who operate businesses there, especially if someone thinks small-town business owners are pushovers. Anyone who spends a few minutes with Ball would immediately learn that trying to stiff his business is unwise.

Dog Days of August

Back in August, Ball received a phone call from a guy who wanted to purchase a pair of zero-turn commercial mowers. Caller ID alerted Ball the call was from a phone exchange in the Chicago, Illinois, area.

Over the course of the conversation, the caller offered Ball two credit card numbers, neither of which was accepted or even belonged to someone from the Chicago area.

“The red flag was already up,” explains Ball, “The caller never negotiated on price, didn’t ask about sales tax and planned to have someone locally pick up the mowers.”

Since Ball had location information he gleaned from the cards, he called two law enforcement agencies out of state. The sheriff’s office in one state used a county register of residents and told Ball no one with the name used by the caller lived in the area. The other sheriff’s office told Ball the address given by the caller was bogus because there were “no four-digit addresses” in the county.

By now, if you’re thinking fraud, you’re on the right track.

Ball could have let this go, but he didn’t. He wasn’t out a penny and the business didn’t lose thousands of dollars of equipment. But he decided to bait his own hook and go fishing. With the information he learned from the initial call, Ball called back the would-be huckster. “I told him the cards didn’t clear, that he was going to have to get a card that’ll clear,” said Ball. The caller told Ball he would have to get back to him.

While the majority of fraudsters would move on to pursue another potential victim, the guy who called Ball wasn’t in the majority.

Hello, October

Nearly two and half months later in October, Ball received another call from the same guy who tried a different tactic with a different credit card. Some people are slow learners.

During this call, Ball said the caller, like before, was in a big hurry to purchase two different units and he needed them “now.” The caller gave Ball a credit card number and said he wanted to pick up the equipment in 30 minutes. Ball told the guy that wasn’t going to happen and the guy said, “Well, get it assembled and give me a call.”

Ball said that wasn’t going to happen, either, that he would assemble the equipment after he was paid because he wasn’t going “to put the equipment together for practice.”

Within 30 seconds after the call ended, the guy called Ball again and said he wanted to split the purchase of the two machines and run the same card twice because the card had a transaction limit. For the record, the type of card the guy was using doesn’t have a preset limit on purchases. That was yet another red flag.

Ball called authorities in Parkville and explained to a detective what was going on. Turns out the card the guy was trying to use matched up to an address of a casino in Pennsylvania. Ball called the casino and no one there ever heard of the guy trying to defraud Ball Power Equipment.

Ball eventually called the guy back and told him one of the machines would be ready at a specific time and asked for the name of the person who would pick up the equipment. The guy wanted to know why that was important. Ball explained he didn’t want a stranger taking the guy’s equipment from the dealership. “He told me that’s a good point and would call me back,” added Ball.

The pick-up time was missed. So, Ball called the guy and asked for an update. He was told “they would be there in a minute.” Since Ball still didn’t have a name of the person or persons picking up the equipment, he asked, “Who is they – you still haven’t given me a name?”

The huckster finally said “they” (still no name) would be in a tow truck.

Ball called local authorities again and two detectives were dispatched to the dealership. One detective was parked on the property, the other was parked nearby.

A short time later, a tow truck pulled into Ball’s dealership, circled the lot and started to leave but was stopped by authorities. The tow truck was owned and operated by a father and son from Grain Valley, Missouri, which is about 35 miles from Ball’s dealership.

The police checked for warrants on the truck’s occupants and the Department of Transportation was called to check registration. Everything that could be checked was checked. Turns out the huckster contacted the guys from Grain Valley and offered them $2,000 to get the equipment from Ball Equipment and tote it to Chicago. They had no idea what was going on and they were cleared of being complicit in this farce.

The bottom line is Ball’s actions saved the father and son from spending a fortune on gas to Chicago for a payday that would not have occurred.

Ball Equipment makes a sizeable investment in new equipment. Owner Bob Ball gets downright fussy when someone tries to scam him out of a unit or two.


In the end, Ball, with law enforcement listening on speakerphone, called the fraudster and challenged him on everything he said. He even told the guy the police were at his dealership.

The guy denied he was setting up Ball Equipment, but Ball wasn’t buying it. He finished the ordeal by giving the guy an earful to go along with his failed attempt.

For the record, the guy who called Ball Power Equipment identified himself as “Don Call.” If that name doesn’t sound familiar, you’re not alone.

Ball said he searched all over the internet and found an old reference to a B-grade actor by the same name. B-grade actors aren’t necessarily less skilled, but they mostly appear or have appeared in low-budget films.

The acting performance of “Don Call” in this production didn’t need to be panned by critics. It was a woefully poor performance that was made worse by going up against Bob Ball, a committed business owner who pushed all the right buttons to stop a thief.

Bob Ball’s Red Flags and Takeaways – What to look for:

Bob Ball suggests that dealers look for signs when a prospective sale is questionable. He said be alert to red flags.

  • “If there is no price negotiation, it’s a red flag.”
  • “If money seems to be no object, it’s a red flag.”
  • “If the equipment is needed immediately, it’s a red flag. Try to slow down the process.”
  • “If your caller ID shows the number is out of state, it’s a red flag.”
  • “If the buyer wants to split payment using one or more credit cards, it’s a red flag.”

Ball suggests that dealership employees be trained to recognize potential signs of fraud, ask questions and listen for inconsistencies, and follow the practices of the dealership when handling credit card transactions. He also encourages dealers to contact their credit card processors to get additional tips to guard against fraud.



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