JANESVILLE

At least three different chain restaurants in Janesville have lost hundreds of dollars in what appears to be a new kind of confidence scam in the past two weeks.

Janesville police say a caller asks for the duty manager and says either that he is investigating fraud for the parent company or a creditor to whom the business owes money.

The caller persuades the employee to take the business income for that day and transfer it electronically to the caller, according to a police news release. The transfers have been done by gift card or bank transfer.

“Local businesses, especially those that are part of a larger chain of restaurants, are encouraged to educate all employees of this scam,” police said. “If an employee has questions about any business transaction, they should contact their supervisor.”

Lt. Charles Aagaard of the Janesville police detectives said in at least one case, the caller urged the employee not to tell the manager, saying that the manager was involved in the fraud.

One employee went to buy gift cards and was told by the gift-card seller that it sounded like a scam, Aagaard said, so the employee bought the cards at a different store.

Aagaard said two of the restaurants lost more than $1,800 combined.

Aagaard had not heard of this scam before, but many scam artists ask their targets to buy gift cards.