CBS 58 Investigates: Business identity theft
RACINE, WI (CBS 58) – The Better Business Bureau and CBS 58 Investigates have uncovered a complicated scheme taking advantage of two local businesses; one for its address, the other for its name. The scheme has cost victims tens of thousands of dollars in losses.
Customers from around the country trying to buy boats, cars, or recreational vehicles were directed to hire a shipping company based out of a building at 2722 Sheridan Rd. in Racine. But that building belongs to another company.
“A lady named Aline Tram, she was going through a divorce, and needed to get rid of this boat rather quickly,” said Nanna Nicolaisen of Palm Beach County, Florida. She saw Tram’s Craigslist ad for a 2019 pontoon boat. It was her dream boat.
“A Regency 2019 with a Mercury 250 horsepower engine on it,” described Nicolaisen.
And she said the price couldn’t be beat.
“$22,000, it was a very good deal,” said Nicolaisen.
She wanted to buy, Tram wanted to sell. Quickly. But Tram said she was traveling for work and referred Nicolaisen to a shipping company in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.
“Handed over the transactions and the delivery of this boat to BCO Logistics,” recalled Nicolaisen.
Tram’s rush to sell raised Nicolaisen’s suspicions. When she searched the address on Google, she saw a gray warehouse. No boats, no recreational vehicles, no tractor trailers. She thought that was odd, and called the business next door. The 12th person to do so.
People were calling and asking about the building and business next door, and it’s not a business,” said Nicole Norby.
Norby is the secretary for her father’s moving company, Norby and Sons. Her father owns the building Nicolaisen saw and used it for his own personal storage. So when people kept calling, asking about BCO Logistics, the Norby’s were confused.
I’ve never heard of the company,” said Nicole.
But the company website lists Norby’s address.
“I called them three times to get our address off their website,” said Nicole.
She said the person that answered hung up and blocked them. CBS 58 Investigates called as well, getting a recording. No one answered and no one called back.
CBS 58 Investigates found a Wisconsin business registration for BCO Logistics and a national trucking registration. The documents led us to the office for the actual Wisconsin BCO Logistics. Its owner said he’s been victimized too.
“I was in a state of shock,” said Tobias Conner.
Conner created BCO Logistics in late May. He explained he’s starting a private package delivery service for businesses.
“I never imagined in a million years where something like this would happen to me, where somebody would take advantage of my good name and take advantage of others,” said Conner.
His company isn’t open. It doesn’t have any employees currently. His lawyer is trying to get the website taken down.
“It’s a complete nightmare,” said Conner.
The BBB said it’s a nightmare that’s happening all too often.
“We’re seeing this all the time,” said Investigations Director Lisa Schiller.
Schiller said fraudulent websites pop up all the time. She explained consumers now have to dig even deeper when checking out a company, going beyond the phone number and address.
“You have to look into the URL of the website, when it was created, if it was newly created, that’s definitely going to be a red flag,” said Schiller.
A URL search showed the website was created at the end of May. We also found one of the pictures advertising recreational moving is a screen shot from the television series “Breaking Bad”.
Schiller said people alerting the BBB lost a combined $70,000 on a camper and a car.
“This is criminal, this is identity theft,” said Schiller.
Nicolaisen was not one of the people who lost money. She didn’t sign any papers or wire any money for that pontoon boat. She found another ad instead.
“It was a deal too good to be true,” said Nicolaisen.
Norby and Sons, the BBB, and the real BCO Logistics have all contacted the website host trying to get it taken down. But that’s where all the trails out of Racine and Mount Pleasant go cold.
The company hosting the BCO Logistics website told CBS 58 it couldn’t reveal who it belonged to. Mount Pleasant police said they’ve taken a number of calls, mostly from out of state. They’ve had to refer those people back to their local police departments.