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Business owner says scammer targeting small businesses

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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- A Wrightsville Beach restaurant owner says he was scammed, and it could happen to other small businesses.

The owner of Banks Channel says he thought he was saving money until a sales representative forged his signature and cost him a lot instead.

Damon Scarpelli says a man named Lewis Arce approached him claiming to represent a company that would save him money on credit card transactions.

"It was to process my credit card cards at five cents per transaction, and that would be the only fee," Scarpelli said.

And he could cancel it at any time, so he read the fine print and signed.

"He assured me, and promised me and shook my hand," Scarpelli said.

Two weeks later Scarpelli got a four-year contract in the mail saying he would be charged $49.99 a month for a credit card swiping machine he was never told about. It had his signature, but he says he never signed.

"He did this," Scarpelli said. "This is not my signature."

The company is Lease Finance Group. Scarpelli says they target small businesses.

"They can't bully these larger corporations, so their plan is to just kind of bully small businesses into paying their fees versus having to pay attorney fees," he said.

So Scarpelli filed forgery claims with Wrightsville Beach Police.

"I don't think Mr. Arce should be able to get away with this," he said. "He received money for forging my signature as well as other people's signatures."

Scarpelli says he knows five other owners involving 13 businesses that have fallen victim.

Police have not gotten back to us yet, but Scarpelli says they told him they do not have enough on arce to do anything about it at this point.

We reached out to Arce, and he told us he has thousand of happy customers. When we asked to do an interview he said he would call us back, but never returned our phone calls.

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Priorities

WBPD has plenty of resources to go after open containers of alcohol or smoking on the beach but not enough go after fraud or forgery.

That would involve computers...

...and that's just a tad over the WBPD's heads.

lease finance group