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West Allis record store changes some business practices after being victim of alleged check fraud

Posted at 5:30 AM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 08:08:25-04

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Record Head in West Allis has changed some of the ways it operates its business after learning it was a victim of alleged check fraud earlier this year.

The business doesn't just sell records. It also buys a lot of merchandise from customers to re-sell. Anything from a $50 game system to a $10,000 guitar.

"So, when an item is more expensive, rather than keeping that cash on hand, we issue them a check," said Bill Sanders, Chief Operations Officer at the store on Greenfield Avenue.

Sanders says Record Head has issued thousands of checks over the years and never had a problem until one day in February.

"We were rectifying all of our books, and my accountant was like, 'Hey can you explain some of these charges? They're not typical. What's going on?' I was like, 'Oh I have no idea what any of that is,'" Sanders recalled.

According to court documents, there were "eight fraudulent transactions totaling $2,485.36."

Sanders filed a police report and told an officer he believed a customer he issued a check to was "using the routing number and the account number belonging to Record Head's business checking account" in order "to make fraudulent payments on various accounts."

"They paid off their cell phone, they paid their utility bill, they paid off their credit cards," Sanders said.

The West Allis Police Department said it's still investigating the case and confirmed they have suspects, however, no charges have been recommended.

Sanders said now he and his employees try and use cash wherever they can when they're buying an item from a customer. Sometimes he does use a check, but he makes sure to monitor his account every day.

"For us, one of the things that we've considered doing is switching to like a Cash app or a Venmo or something like that, in which we can just directly wire those people that money without any issues," said Sanders.

Record Head's bank did an investigation and credited their account, so the business isn't out all that money.

More than anything, the incident has given the record store a heightened sense of awareness.

"I was frankly shocked at how simple it was for someone to take that information and just go and run with it," he said.

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