OLYMPIA, WA - The Washington State Liquor Control Board is alerting cannabis licensees about a scam that has been making the rounds in the state.
According to state officials, over the past year, a number of cannabis shop employees have fallen victim to a text scam. This scam has been coined as a “Fire Extinguisher Scam.” Store employees are contacted via text message by a suspect over a text message, via spoofed phone numbers, making it appear the text is coming from the store owner’s attorney or even the owners themselves.
Because the cannabis store employees truly believe they are communicating directly with the owner of the shop or their attorney, they have fallen for the scam. The scammer typically tells the store employee that an “inspector” from a government entity is planning on coming to the store to verify the fire extinguishers are in compliance. The scammer will have the employee send photos of the extinguishers, exit signs, business licenses and other regulatory items. Then, through a series of text messages, the victim is requested to bring a large sum of money to a location where it’s handed off to someone the employee does not know. In other instances of this type of scam, the scammers have asked for money for “emergency surgeries” for a cannabis business owner’s son, money to pay for a license fee and various other untrue stories.