Online Businesses at Risk
Caught in the Middle: The Plight of Relay Telephone Operators Nationwide
Business Owners' Experiences
Nigerian Con Artists Using
the Relay Telephone Service for the Deaf
Posted February, 2007
Report from V. Williams: "I have been hit by the telephone relay scam, but
thankfully, not hard. My husband and I own a truck repair shop in Oregon. We
got a relay call from someone wanting to get prices on some injectors
for a Cummins engine, which we gave them. The person then said he wanted
to order 25 of these injectors, plus some other parts, bringing the total order to
"This person started contacting us by fax. First he faxed me three credit cards,
asking me to process each one for $2000, and then go back starting with the
first card and charging each of them for an additional $1679. I ran the three cards
for the $2000 and all declined, but I didnít think much of it at the time.
I faxed the guy back, told him his cards were declined, so he faxed me back
three more credit cards. When I ran the first one, it was approved but the
other two were declined, and the red flags went up and we figured there
was a scam here somewhere.
Report from pet breeder Lynda James (also in Oregon): "Pet breeders need
to beware of these Nigerian scammers. We are talking live babies now!
I am a long-time breeder of Abyssinian cats and
do have a website. I also have
a love for the hearing impaired and a history with them, and sign with these
friends at church. So I take a relay call quite seriously!
"One came in recently,
so of course I was ready to assume "hearing impaired,"
but then I'm hearing "from out of the country," and "can't find an Aby here,"
and of course there is also the language barrier to be considered. This man, who
called himself Dennis Summer, wanted both of the current kittens I had
advertised, so I replied that I needed to know more about where my kittens would
be going and to what kind of home. I even asked him if he was a "pet broker,"
saying that if so, I could not help him. I asked for the name of his "shipping
company" or "agent" that I was going to be dealing with and he gave me a
shipper's name and address in Nigeria.
"No credit cards were ever mentioned; instead, he wanted certain facts from
me, like my address, all phone numbers (including cell numbers), saying that
when he had this info he would send me a cashier's check or a wire transfer for
enough money for the kittens, plus their shipping. He said that, after I had
cashed the check or had gotten the wire transfer, I was to take out my price for
the kittens, then send the rest to his agent, who would then pick up the kittens
and handle all the shipping from there on. Of course, I wasn't going for this,
but wondered where the scamming part comes in, if I already had my money before
anything else was to happen. (See below).
"Now get this! In his response, he referred to "the puppies" (not kittens),
even offering to send me pictures of them every month so I would know how well
they were being taken care of! And nowhere was there any mention of how
complicated shipping an animal out of country is (like minimum six-month age
limit, titer blood tests required to verify rabies vaccines and then an impound
time at the other end).
"My son, who is a computer engineer, brought up the possibility of computer
spyware on my system. And here's why. I had made no mention of "puppies"
anywhere on my site as I don't raise dogs. But at this time I just happened to
have a six-day-old litter of pedigreed Aussies. I had e-mailed many of my
friends about this special event in my world of total cats, but they were the
only ones who knew anything about "puppies." Not only that, but the name of my
co-owner of this litter was "Summer" (the same name used by the scammer), who
was mentioned in both my e-mails and in my address book. So now I'm wondering if
it's possible for these guys to read my personal e-mails?
Ed.Note: I don't know about reading the e-mails, but there's a lot about spyware that I
don't know. However, for an explanation of how this particular scam works
(cashier's checks), read the article, "New Scam Uses Counterfeit Checks" at
ConsumerAffairs.com and also see the
InternetScamAlert's website for more information and a link to four other
Websites now publishing reports on this growing problem.
Here's another site--UltralightNews.com--that
offers a good summary of their/their customer's experiences with counterfeit
cashier's check scams, wire transfer, Western Union, and MoneyGram
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