A New Scam, beware

Just when you thought you’d heard it all . . . .

This scam is actually very clever. This one could easily slip by most anyone – beware of people bearing gifts. The following is a recounting of the incident from the victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from some outfit called: “Express Couriers,”(The name could have been anything) he asked if I was going to be home because there was a package delivery for me that required a signature . The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour, and sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and wine.

I was very surprised since it did not involve any special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn’t expect anything like it. Intrigued about who had sent me such a gift, I inquired as to who the sender was. The deliveryman’s reply was, he was only delivering the gift package, but allegedly a card was being sent separately… (the card has never arrived!)

There was also a consignment note with the gift. He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 “delivery verification charge,” providing proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult of legal drinking age, and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash. He then said that the delivery company required payment to be by credit or debit card only, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would keep help in keeping a legal record of the transaction. He added couriers not needing to carry a bunch of cash, would make them less likely targets for robbery.

My husband, who by this time was standing beside me, pulled his wallet out of his pocket with the credit/debit card, and ‘John,’ the “delivery man,” asked my husband to swipe his card on a small mobile card machine. It had a small screen and keypad where Frank was also asked to enter the card’s PIN and security number. A receipt was printed out and given to us as our copy of the transaction. He then said everything was in order, and wished us good day.

To our horrible surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday, $4,000 had been charged/withdrawn from our credit/debit account at various ATM machines. It appeared that somehow the “mobile credit card machine,” which the deliveryman carried now had all the info necessary to create a “dummy” card with all our card details after my husband swiped our card and entered the requested PIN and security number.

Upon finding out about the illegal transactions on our card, we immediately notified the bank which issued us a new card, and our credit/debit account was closed.

We also personally went to the Police, where it was confirmed that it is definitely a scam because several households had been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package,” which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package.

Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction! Pass this on, it may just prevent someone else from being swindled.

http://www.snopes.com/fraud/sales/express.asp

10 Things You Can do to Prevent Fraud

There are over 10 million people that are victims of scams every year. Scam artists defraud people across the globe by using phone, email, postal mail and the Internet to trick you into sending money or revealing personal information. While con artists can be clever, many can be stopped by knowledgeable consumers. Here are 10 steps from the Federal Trade Commission that you can take to stop a scam.

1. Wiring money is like sending cash: once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to someone who claims to be a relative in an emergency (and wants to keep the request a secret).

2. Do not send money to someone you don’t know, including online merchants you’ve never heard of, or an online love interest who asks for money or favors. Do business with sites you know and trust. Don’t send cash, and don’t use a wire transfer service.

3. Do not respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial information, whether they arrive by email, phone, text message or an ad, no matter how professional they seem. For example, Associated Bank will never ask for your account or personal information by email.

4. Do not play a foreign lottery. First, it’s illegal to play them. Second, you’ll be asked to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you send money, you won’t get it back, regardless of promises.

5. Do not agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know, then wire money back, no matter how convincing the story. If you deposit a check that turns out to be fake, you are responsible to pay back the bank.

6. Read your bills and monthly statements regularly, on paper and online. Scammers steal account information, then run up charges or commit crimes in your name.

7. After a natural disaster or other crisis, donate to established charities rather than one that seems to have sprung up overnight. Visit www.ftc.gov/charityfraud to learn more.

8. Talk to your doctor before buying health products or receiving medical treatments. Buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies; otherwise you could receive products that are fake, expired, mislabeled and possibly dangerous. Visit www.ftc.gov/health

9. Remember there’s no such thing as a sure thing.
When you hear pitches that insist you act now, promise big profits and little or no financial risk, or demand that you send cash immediately, report them to Associated Bank or the FTC.

10. Know where an offer comes from and who you’re dealing with, including their physical address and phone number. Do an Internet search for the company name and website and any negative reviews. Check the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org

Bonus Tip: Visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov to learn how to avoid internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them