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Vancouver music store falls victim to fraud, facing bankruptcy

Click to play video: 'Community supports music store hit by fraud'
Community supports music store hit by fraud
A Vancouver music store says a dream order worth thousands of dollars has turned into a nightmare that's almost cost them their business. The owners of exile say they've been left on the hook for the cost of the fraudulent transaction, and as Cassidy Mosconi reports, with nowhere else to turn, the community has stepped in to help – Nov 5, 2023

A Vancouver music store has fallen victim to an apparent fraud scheme that has put the future of the business at risk.

Exile Electronics, located on Main Street, said it was hit by three massive fraudulent transactions after barely squeaking by in recent years.

“The (fraudulent) sales happened last October (in 2022) and we found out about them in January,” Chris Young, Exile’s co-owner, said.

The customer said a local show needed some specific gear.

“They were not things we stocked, but they were things that would be good sales for us,” said Young.

Young said the orders totalled more than $20,000. The orders were for music equipment the store does not carry.

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Young said since the business has been struggling the large orders felt like a bright spot in a dark time.

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“It was an exciting thing. We even tried to price-match other stores to give them the best prices we could,” he said.

According to Young, the credit card transactions were initially approved, which led to ordering the items that were paid for, and then collected by a “runner.”

A runner is a person who picks up musical equipment for famous bands or artists, Young said.

A few months later, the credit card owner disputed the charges and was granted refunds, even though the equipment was long gone. The credit card company then came after Exile for the money.

“To find out (the orders) were not real was heartbreaking,” Young said.

Young said they have been battling against the credit card company and insurance claims ever since and also filed a police report.

“The officer I spoke to said, ‘We are inundated.’ That was the word they used with (getting) so many of these (types of) calls,” Kate Wattie said, the other co-owner.

The co-owners said the business is on the brink of bankruptcy and has created a fundraiser, hoping the community can save them.

The fundraiser is going well and has raised more than 75 per cent of its goal of $13,955.

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Global News has reached out to Vancouver police for comment.

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