By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia police are putting the word out to merchants about a payment card scam that has proven very costly.

Detective Steven Parkinson of the department’s Central Detectives division says the scam involves two people.

One, well-dressed, shops in a high-end store for items such as jewelry, furniture, or designer eyewear, then goes to the cash register to pay with a card.  It is denied.

The in-person scammer then supposedly contacts the card-issuing bank.

“He calls the phone number, has a conversation like he’s officially talking to somebody,” explains Det. Parkinson.  “Then (he) passes the phone to the merchant.  The merchant has the same conversation.  They override the machine’s approval thing, and it gives them a temporary or an ‘offline’ approval code.”

…which the merchant discovers is bogus after the thief and the goods are gone.

Parkinson says that in addition to warning potential victims, he’s collecting complaints from those who’ve been stung.  If you or your business have been victimized, call Central Detectives at 215-686-3093.

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE