A Vancouver business owner is taking matters into her own hands to deter thieves from stealing from her.
Antonella Biefeni, the owner of Citrus Hair Salon, was notified by an employee that a client's credit card was used to purchase a large gift card.
"First of all, the $700 amount is unusual for a hair salon gift card,” she says.
Calling the client, they discovered it was a fraudulent purchase and that it was not the client who purchased the gift card. Biefeni called the non-emergency police line looking for assistance.
“They told me, just let her come in, which we had booked her already, and just notify police in advance of when she will be here and they will attend. And so they did,” she says.
This isn’t the first time the salon has run into fraudulent transactions, an added burden after dealing with the pandemic, Biefeni tells Glacier Media.
"It’s not just a $700 issue. It’s not a $200 issue. It's thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and small businesses can’t afford it,” she says.
Worried that this type of crime would continue happening, she took to social media.
"It’s really frustrating to be told over and over again that we can’t do anything about it, we probably won’t catch them even with a video, they are not going to catch them and it’s just really frustrating,” she says.
A staff member documented the entire incident and the video was uploaded to TikTok, where it garnered more than 246,000 views.
"Being arrested is not a deterrent so I feel like we kind of have to out these people,” she says. "Social media is a new way of getting it out there.”
In a written statement, the Vancouver Police Department tells Glacier Media that no charges have been laid in connection with the incident in the TikTok video.
"An investigation is taking place to determine whether a crime was committed, and if so, by whom,” says a spokesperson.
Biefeni says this type of loss really impacts small businesses.
"As a business owner, people don’t realize it’s a loss for us. The business loses out, we don’t get reimbursed for that there’s no insurance for fraud.”
In speaking out and sharing the video online, she hopes more businesses will follow in her steps to make it more difficult for people to get away with this type of behaviour.
"If the video goes viral and someone recognizes the face, hopefully, that will trigger some action and it makes it more difficult for them to do their 'job," she says.
How to protect your business
Fraudulent transactions and scams are frequently taking place and business owners can protect themselves with a few suggestions from B.C. RCMP.
Spokesperson Sgt. Chris Manseau says Biefeni did the right thing by calling police right away.
"I thought it was very proactive of the business to contact the police and have them aware of what was happening,” he says.
Business owners should work with their financial institutions to discuss what types of frauds are currently happening and they should also be keeping a close eye on financial transactions.
"Small frauds might not get noticed. Large ones, much like the one we just saw online there, would get noticed, especially in a very small business,” says Manseau.
Anything suspicious should be reported to police right away.
"I hate to say it but this is the fraudster's job, this is what they do for money so they’re good at it,” says Manseau.
B.C. RCMP also has a website with resources on frequent frauds and the most common ones thieves are using.
Glacier Media reached out to other salons across the province and was told others have not dealt with a similar incident. However, staff did say people have tried to give the wrong credit card information.