Last week a TTY relay
call came in at Computer Consulting Associates. A TTY relay call is
typically from a hearing-impaired person. The caller wanted to order
a Pentium 4 laptop. It turned out the caller wanted to order three
laptops and have them shipped to the Bronx, N.Y. The caller gave a
MasterCard number to the salesman-tech, Duane Moore, and the credit
card authorization was approved.
"It is very unusual
for someone outside of our local county to call CCA and order three
laptops," Moore said. "My initial response was "life is good,"
followed by "how will the commission be spent?"
This response quickly
disappeared when, the following day, another caller, again by a TTY
relay call, wanted to order four laptops and have them shipped to
Ghana, West Africa. This caller gave two Visa credit card numbers.
Both callers were asked to fill out an order authorization form,
which included their name, shipping address, credit card number and
signature. Both callers quickly faxed the form back, with no
Now this was just a
little too weird. CCA at this point called the Lincoln Police
Department. They took the information and called both MasterCard and
Visa fraud departments. MasterCard eventually confirmed that the
cardholder had died four months previously. Visa also confirmed that
the purchasers were fraudulent. Now, when the credit cards were run
for a credit authorization, they were denied.
Moore informed one of
the callers that "their card" had been denied, and the response was,
"I forgot to make a payment. Here are two Discover cards that can be
Moore said, "Now my
thoughts turn from "great commission" to "how can I help catch these
people and receive the large reward?"
conversations with the fraud departments and trying not to have the
callers realize that the local business knew they were up to no
good, one of the fraud employees suggested that the CCA employee
contact the United States Secret Service.
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The Secret Service
agent located in Springfield told Moore that there is a group in
West Africa that steals credit card numbers, then calls into the
United States and tries to place purchases. Unfortunately there is
not very much the Secret Service can do about it.
office did contact the New York City office to determine if there
was any valuable information at the address at the Bronx, N.Y.
address given. The usual method of operation would be to ship the
merchandise to an address in the United States, and the receiver of
the merchandise would keep part and send the rest on to a
destination outside of the United States.
The Secret Service
informed CCA that the caller would continue to call until we refused
to do business with them. About four days after the initial call, we
received another TTY relay call saying they were from California. We
quickly told them that we refuse to do business with them.
"Based on the way
each conversation went and the handwriting on the order
authorization forms, I believe we were dealing with the same
person," Moore said. "Obviously there is no way to prove this theory
The moral of the
story is that it proves "that if it's too good to be true, it
probably is not true."
If you have old
credit cards that are no longer used, make sure they are destroyed
and the credit card companies are informed.
"I will never see a dime of commission
from the non-sale of the laptops or see any reward money," Moore
said, "but it was interesting seeing how the credit card industry
works. If I do receive a large reward, maybe I'll buy a laptop, with
MasterCard or a Visa or possibly a Discover card."