Part one of this article:
Join Barbara's mail list to receive periodic Bulletins and announcements when new content has been added to the site.
Copyright © 2000-2013
Online Businesses at Risk
Are Using the
Editor's note: This reshipping scam is affecting many people who are looking for part-time employment at home, and it's easy to be conned. Educate yourself by reading this Scam Alert by Amy C. Fleitas at Bankrate.com.
Scammers on Dating Websites
Sometimes the con artists meet people on dating websites and con them into believing that they would be helping them get things they need for their family if they will "reship" certain merchandise for them. This particular aspect of the scam is a HUGE problem. The Nigerian cons are breaking people’s hearts and trust in order to further their illegal activities. Because they are so convincing at making people believe that they love them, they have their victims in the palm of their hand. The victims will do just about anything to help the con artist and his "family." The outlandish stories they make up would seem very incredible to most people, but once they get a victim lured in, and the victim thinks they're in love, they will believe these truly amazing stories. They rarely have any idea that the Nigerian is working with a network of people, and their photo online is never really them, and often, the victim is corresponding with several scammers pretending to be the same person.
When Businesses Bite
With the businesses or individual sellers who become victims, once the "purchase" has been made, sometimes after using several credit card numbers until one finally goes through, the retailer or private party sends out the package very quickly, just as the Nigerian demands. Several days later, the person who shipped the package will be notified by the credit card company that it was a stolen credit card. Or they are notified by the bank that the cashier’s check is phony. The shipper is then out the merchandise and the money.Example: As I was writing this article, I was assisting a young female business owner in stopping a Nigerian from scamming her. I caught her just in time, as the merchandise was just getting ready to ship. This con artist was trying to buy floor tiles and have them shipped to Ghana. The total amount of tiles they wanted to buy came to over $10,000. Thankfully, I was able to help them save their money, which would have bankrupted this small business. At the same time, the scammer was giving the business three credit cards at a time. The scammer wanted to split the 10 grand between three different cards. In an effort to get all the cards he had available to him, we kept telling the scammer that the cards kept coming back declined ... and the scammer kept providing stolen credit card numbers! When it was all over, the scammer had provided nine credit card numbers. I took each card number, called Master card to get the phone number for the issuing banks, and then called each of the banks to inform them of the situation. Each card was flagged, and the money available was frozen until the bank could contact the owner and make them aware that their account had been compromised. In this particular instance, I was able to not only save this business from losing $10,000, but I also helped save nine different credit card holders from losing a whole lot of money. I also sent an anonymous tip to the FBI regarding the situation and gave them all the pertinent info.
How the Deaf Are Being Deprived
of a Valuable Service
This problem has become so widespread that operators can, and often do, spend up to 80 percent of their day making calls for Nigerians, while legitimate users “sit in queue" waiting for an operator who is tied up with a Nigerian who is making call after call scamming businesses. Those poor people sit and wait, and I always worry ... What if they were in an emergency situation and needed to call 911? What if they were with a loved one having a heart attack, or some other emergency? How scary is that?
Here is another important key to the scammer’s success: The operators have no option but to allow the call to go through due to the mandates set out by the FCC and the Americans With Disabilities Act. The FCC has been very clear on the issue. The operator cannot make any judgment about the legitimacy/legality of any call for any reason. In short, the operators have to put any call through, no matter what. The end result here is that the Nigerian fraud has caused many, many businesses to stop accepting relay calls altogether. Some deaf people now have a very hard time purchasing things over the phone. This problem needs exposure! The operators’ hands are tied because warning a victim, or somehow attempting to stop the fraud during the call will result in immediate termination and the threat of being sued by the relay company. Because operators can lose their jobs (at the very least) for warning a victim, some former operators, like me, have taken things into their own hands, at the risk of prosecution, to help these victims.
I am only speaking out, and putting myself at risk of going to jail because the more people that hear of this, the fewer victims there will be. I have asked Barbara to respect my privacy and keep my identity hidden. I only want to help people, and it would be very detrimental to me and my family if I went to jail or got sued for trying to stop these scammers. I also need to protect the operator network system that we have. These operators are integral to putting an end to these scammers, and I need their help in order to help others.
There is so very little information out there for people who have been scammed, and for people who might be next in line. I feel that it's imperative that the general public learn about this problem. I can think of no better way than to contact the media. I am available at any time to tell my story as an operator. I also have several friends who are current or former operators who would participate in any interviews. The more people who are warned, and informed, the better. In trying to stop these scams, we hope to save the relay system that was intended for the deaf to be able to make phone calls, just like you or I can. They deserve to have their phone system back.
I am currently in the process of getting the attention of senators and the FCC, and working with a victims advocacy group called Fraud Aid. They are pushing lawmakers very hard to get this system changed. The media option is only being used to put pressure on the FCC (who is very aware of the problem) and the Relay companies to change how Relay is used. The goal is to make sure it's available to those who rely on it, and unavailable to those who abuse it.
As I’ve stated before, I must keep my identify secret, but if you are interested in giving this problem media coverage, you may communicate with me through Barbara Brabec, who will forward your message on to me.
Read the first report on this topic, by "Clear Conscience."
See also these reports from readers who were targeted by these scammers.
[Back to Top]