It happens over and over, coming in cycles where we may receive a half a dozen or more calls in one day.
It is worse than unwanted telemarketers are because these scammers are using a disability to get their feet in the door.
Here’s how this works.
At the newspaper office, we will get a call from an “operator” who claims to have a deaf person on the phone who is using a teletypewriter device for the deaf. The operator asks for the classified department. When we respond, then the “deaf” person, through the operator, says he wants to place an ad to give away a free dog — usually a Yorkie.
It used to be somebody from New York or Pennsylvania. Now, who want to give away a dog in New York and advertise for it in Kansas?
When this first started, we took the ad, ran the credit card number, and a few weeks later, the credit card transaction company sent us a letter telling us the charge was refused.
The credit card number was stolen and used by the “deaf” person for a $7 classified ad.
OK. So we were taken for $7. Why would someone go to this much trouble for $7? And it is doubtful if he even had a dog to give away.
What is the scam with this? We still are trying to figure that out.
Are they setting up the victim (person whose credit card they stole) for a bigger hit and just testing the waters or do they get information from people who answer the ad via e-mail?
Whatever the reason, it angers us at the office because not only are they wasting our time and possibly scamming our readers, but also they are exploiting those who are deaf, even if there is no deaf person placing the ad.
We know this is a scam because we began to require a landline and physical address, which they gave us.
Most recently, scammers are using local people’s names, addresses, and phone numbers. A week or so ago, we received a call from someone who claimed to be a Marion County resident. Office personnel know the resident and knew the “deaf” person on the phone was not this resident. The same credit card number was used, even when the scammer called back with a different name.
We also call the telephone number he/she gives us while the person still is on the line. Often the telephone number is not a working number or it is someone who has not placed an ad.
What a deal!
Local authorities were notified when this first happened and they are baffled, too. What do these scammers have to gain? What are they after?
If anyone has any ideas, let us know. This continues to be one of our ongoing mysteries.
— susan berg