When the phone rang at The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest, co-owner Christine Anzell knew something was wrong almost immediately. The caller said they were from Edison, the region’s utility provider. “He said we owed $500 and if we didn’t pay him now, our power was going to be cut off.”
Losing the power at a jewelry store is extremely problematic, as the security systems that are in place to protect an inventory of fine gold, diamonds and gemstones would be disabled. Anzell was worried – but she was also puzzled, since she knew she’d paid the monthly utility bill. After checking her records, she tried to resolve the confusion with the caller.
The caller responded by saying there was nothing that could be done, and that The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest’s lights would be cut off unless she came up with cash. Anzell turned the call over to her business partner, Jack Levenson, who wound up talking with a woman who claimed to be the man’s superior. She insisted that payment must be made within the hour, and directed Levenson to go to a convenience store to purchase a MoneyPak in order to facilitate the speedy payment.
After getting off the phone with this woman, Levenson called Edison, who told him that the caller was attempting to scam them, and that the store’s utility account was in good standing. When the scammer called back, Levenson told her he knew he knew what the real deal was, and she hung up on him.
The story could have ended there, but it didn’t. Like many small business owners, Levenson and Anzell have deep ties to their community. They discussed the fact that other people could be getting the same call, and that they could easily be defrauded out of their hard-earned money.
That’s when they decided to reach out to Sarah de Crescenzo, a reporter with the Orange County Register who had written about community fundraising events held by The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest over the years. She immediately agreed the community needed to be made aware of what was going on, and this story is the result.
Sharing their story helped raise awareness of the scammers in the Lake Forest community and the surrounding area. That’s not the only benefit. By demonstrating their concern, Levenson and Anzell helped cement The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest’s reputation as a business that’s highly involved in the community their customers call home.
Does that immediately translate into increased sales? Not necessarily – but the next time someone local needs a unique diamond engagement ring or wants to make a gift of fine jewelry, the name that will spring to mind as the retailer of choice won’t be the chain jeweler with no community ties or reputation. It’ll be The Jewelry Box of Lake Forest.