Whataburger Manager Falls Victim To Phone Scam, Loses Store Cash

September 20, 2018

A manager at the Century Whataburger fell victim to a phone scam, using about $2,000 in restaurant cash to buy gift cards for the scammer, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The manager received a phone call from what she believed to be the Whataburger corporate office in which she was told to take all the money out of the registers and go buy gift cards at a retail store, Amber Southard, spokesperson for the ECSO said.

The call appeared to originate from the Whataburger corporate office, with the caller providing a Whataburger employee identification number and following various corporate policies, Southard said. The manager called the number back and it was answered by what sounded like a Whataburger phone system that allowed the store manager to reach the caller’s extension.

The manager “partially closed” the restaurant on North Century Boulevard and took the cash to a retail store to purchase the gift cards as instructed. Due to limits at that store, she was only able purchase a few gift cards and she went to another store to purchase more cards. She had been instructed to provide the gift cards and PIN numbers to the caller.

The incident was reported to the Sheriff’s Office at about 3 a.m. Tuesday.  When investigators called the phone number later that day, they reached a recording indicating it was a Church’s Chicken office.

“It appears they changed the recording, possible continuing with their scam,” Southard said.

The Sheriff’s Office found that several of the gift cards had already been used by the scammer to purchase items from the eBay online auction site.

“Taking all the cash from a business and buying gift cards is usually not what an employer is going to ask you to do,” Southard said. “People should always use caution when a caller is asking them to buy gift cards.”

No charges have been filed in the incident, and the manager has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Pictured: The Whataburger restaurant on North Century Boulevard in Century. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.


31 Responses to “Whataburger Manager Falls Victim To Phone Scam, Loses Store Cash”

  1. Kathy on September 22nd, 2018 4:31 pm

    These type scams are common but not everybody is aware of them where i work we have stickers on our phones not to conduct any transaction over the phone and we have been made aware about the scams going around the lady at Whataburger might not have known scams like that are around being that we know about the scams and follow the scammers instructions we will lose our job because we are taught not to do it and have been made aware of it

  2. Brianna on September 22nd, 2018 6:23 am

    Whataburger Management Training !
    Some folks have no common sense ….

  3. You don't need to know my name on September 21st, 2018 9:42 pm

    These scams usually originate in Africa or in India, where doing these kinds of things is encouraged as long as you’re victimizing Americans.

    Don’t ever give anyone money unless you have already met them in person

  4. nod on September 21st, 2018 1:14 pm

    As P.T. Barnum is believed to have said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
    and these are the people scams are for.

  5. Susan Smith on September 21st, 2018 9:52 am

    Oh that I am not like the Pharisees! What has happened to people who are so ready to judge a person or can’t put themselves in the same place. It has nothing to do with being smart! It’s about TRUST! Haven’t you ever trusted someone who you thought to be authentic and gotten fooled. I have! Nothing else to be said.

  6. MR REALITY on September 20th, 2018 8:40 pm

    So, I work for a restaurant and we take our money to the bank EVERYNIGHT…Well one night someone calls and tells me to take the deposits and turn them into giftcards and to call them back with the info on the cards…IT’S HAS TO EITHER BE AN INSIDE JOB OR SOMEONE IS A FOOL! Bottom line. For those making excuses for her…WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR $2,000?

  7. B.A. on September 20th, 2018 7:23 pm

    Only in century…

  8. It happens don't judge on September 20th, 2018 5:59 pm

    Everyone wants to blame the young lady but have you ever been put in something like that or just during training. I wouldn’t judge to much you don’t know and no I don’t work there before you say something about that. But I hope this never happens to one of you have you ever been robbed or something just happen in your life and all that training you went through or everything you may think you would do if something was to happen. Well I have your mind goes blank your body goes in this state of mind your so confused you don’t know what to do. So don’t put yourself like she should have done this or that if you have only been put through training for it and you have never been through anything like this.

  9. retired on September 20th, 2018 5:18 pm

    Maybe she needs to run for mayor or city council. Sounds like she would be a good loan officer!!!!!!!!

  10. Jerry on September 20th, 2018 4:10 pm

    I used to manage a Whataburger and the Crestview location fell for the same exact scam. I believe they fired the Team leader who was working that night.

  11. Chelleepea on September 20th, 2018 4:05 pm

    Well, bless her. Everyone make mistakes. If she had made one more phone call to the corporate number she had on file……..

  12. K.J. on September 20th, 2018 3:08 pm

    I’m a manager in the food service Industry and have been for several years. In no way can you place blame on the young lady that fell victim to these thieves, she was doing as instructed by someone way above her pay grade, so she thought. However you can blame the her immediate supervisors for not getting ahead of this and give proper training. This has been going on for quite a while, the restaurant I represent has had training in place for over a year. We schedule training once a month for ALL managers. Still, a few months back, one of our Asst. Managers notified me of the thieves calling and instructing him to do the same, he got the phone number and I called them back, it sounded as realistic as it could be, when I called the bluff and told them I was recording the conversation and was going to report them to the authorities, they ended the call. So to actually think an Asst. Mgr. can make a determination like that when they think their job is on the line. Then you are falsely certified to be in the higher position one may be in if you do not believe the situation one of your fellow managers is telling you about.

  13. Annie on September 20th, 2018 2:09 pm

    Yes the manager was very gullible and nieve. Not everyone is street smart nor exposed to corruption. Yes you can point fingers at her & say dumb mistake. I feel bad she must have grown up the right way learning you respect authority figures & listen to them you don’t question authority. So she did what she was told. She was a victim. Not a moron.
    Yes she should have had the sense to look up their corporate # and call it but as the story said she called the # they gave her and it “sounded” like corporate. Lesson learned. Please don’t judge her. Only God can judge & criminals are wrong doers.

  14. Just saying on September 20th, 2018 12:58 pm

    Keep in mind, most fast good employees and so-called managers are barely out of high school. They should be trained for this type of thing. Whomever pulled this off is very sneaky and very good at what they do (allbeit illegal)

  15. Kathleen on September 20th, 2018 12:52 pm

    Talk about naive. I hate to pass judgment but in today’s world she should have double-checked with corporate. That was a very gullible thing to do

  16. anne 1of2 on September 20th, 2018 12:51 pm

    There is no way a manager could make this kind of mistake. Every business has an emergency phone number to call for a situation such as this. What A Burger is a big chain making a ton of money. The manager didn’t receive enough security training.

  17. David Huie Green on September 20th, 2018 12:38 pm

    Scammers in meat grinders seems like a good idea to me.

    Sure, it would not be right, but neither is stealing, especially from the trusting.

    David for better sausage

  18. MR REALITY on September 20th, 2018 12:28 pm


  19. Almetra on September 20th, 2018 12:07 pm

    I am a district bmanager for Wendy’s and they have tried this in some of our restaurants. What employees need to understand is no one would ever call you in upper management and tell you to purchase gift cards and call back with anpin number. When in doubt she should have called someone over her.

  20. Safebear on September 20th, 2018 11:16 am

    Never call anyone like this back at the number they give you. Even people misrepresent with business cards because anybody can print their own. Always look up the number and call them there to confirm the request. This goes for credit card scams too. Call the number on your card!

  21. nod on September 20th, 2018 10:53 am

    ditto chris.

    amazing how this happened to have happened in century?

    the manager called the number back to verify, does the manager not have the real corporate office number?

  22. busy busy on September 20th, 2018 10:52 am

    It’s the day in which we live – scammers are everywhere. Lack of honesty, morals, accountability to God. Hindsight is 20/20, but the manager probably thought it really was the corporate office asking for those things. Everyone needs a sixth sense for scams as it’s not like the old days when you could believe most people, leave your door open, etc.

  23. Clueless Bob on September 20th, 2018 9:01 am

    Hopefully they can work with eBay and find out the address and delivery point for the items purchased. That would be the first clue and should lead them to the culprits. The point of delivery for the items they purchased from EBay will be the best clue. Hopefully they have authorities waiting for them with the delivery of he items.

  24. Mike J. on September 20th, 2018 8:49 am

    I think those of us who believe, should say a prayer for this victim to help her in recovering her personal confidence and professional skills. I can understand why she won’t be a manager for a while but I hope she is able to work back to that position.

  25. Somebody on September 20th, 2018 8:28 am

    This is ridiculous she should’ve know better than to believe a scam call like that but yet the manager fell through with it and to think she would lose her job over this….. the manger didn’t so everybody that’s thinking she got fired she didn’t shes just going to move down and not be a manger any more but still have her job smh….. people and businesses need to do better !

  26. chris on September 20th, 2018 8:28 am

    Manager should run for Century mayor. Obviously knows how to manage money.

  27. J on September 20th, 2018 7:31 am

    As someone who works in retail these scammers are very good we get calls all the time where they threaten you with your job, you bosses job. It’s crazy the stuff they come up with ,and unfortunately people fall for it everyday. They have some pretty elaborate things they tell you.

  28. Kevin in Montgomery on September 20th, 2018 7:08 am

    This is an unfortunate situation that has been reported to the proper authority for investigation. If you own or are responsible for a retail operation, I suggest sharing this article with staff as a learning/training tool.

    Thieves are creative ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. I have witnessed extremely intelligent individuals victimized. The point of suspicion and/or gullibility are mute. This manager has not been accused of wrongdoing and no charges have been filed. At this point, he/she is a victim. It is the thief that deserves a tone of condescension.

  29. Otto on September 20th, 2018 7:06 am

    This is another example of why spoofing, providing a fake # on the caller ID, should be illegal. It it is usually a precursor to fraud.

  30. Beth on September 20th, 2018 1:36 am

    These scammers sound like they have a very elaborate system. I feel bad for the Whataburger Mgr. As widely known as these type of scams are though, you would think the manager would have been suspicious. Hope they’re caught!!

  31. Mark on September 20th, 2018 1:15 am

    WOW! People need to stop being so gullible. When has anyone EVER been told to pay something using gift cards? Sheesh!

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