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Scam Alert – Unauthorized Equipment Purchase Orders

CICP_logo_smallIn an effort to prevent future equipment theft scams, AGC is passing along this alert provided by our friends at the Construction Industry Crime Prevention program, CICP.

An alert instructor at the Albany Weld School recently helped stop an equipment thief. On November 1, the instructor purchased some AirGas equipment (a Miller welder and a Lincoln wire feed machine) from an individual for $2,900. This person told the welding instructor he had purchased the items at an auction and would come back later to sell him some other equipment. The instructor and seller set a date to make the second transaction.

After the seller left, the instructor more closely inspected the equipment. It appeared to be brand new and not from an auction as first thought. Suspicious, the instructor contacted AirGas to see if they could match the equipment serial numbers to a particular company. The serial numbers came back to a Portland contractor and matched a $6,500 delivery order dated November 1, 2013. The delivery order referenced a Portland area project currently underway and noted the equipment was purchased from the local AirGas facility in Portland. AirGas immediately contacted the contractor who confirmed they did not initiate the delivery order, nor did they know the person who signed for the equipment. It became obvious that the seller was not authorized to purchase equipment. The contractor then contacted CICP and asked for assistance with this situation. CICP then contacted Linn County Sheriff’s Department and Portland Police. Over the weekend the three parties worked diligently together and devised a plan to stop the thief in his tracks.

On November 18, the seller showed up right on schedule at the Weld School to complete the second transaction. The seller was immediately arrested by Linn County deputies. It was quickly discovered that the individual had worked for a subcontractor on the project identified on the original delivery order. The equipment he was now “selling” had come from a delivery order charged to another local general contractor from another AirGas store.

CICP and AGC encourage contractors to be specific with their vendors about who is authorized to purchase items for the company. Contractors should be vigilant and pay close attention to invoices and billings. Any unusual, suspicious, or questionable activity should be immediately investigated and police should be contacted as necessary. Contact CICP, 503-618-8871, for further assistance.

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