The Newest Credit Card Scam
By Diane M. Loeffler
“I am trying to lock up two guys who are raising havoc here,” says Deputy Jeffrey Merry. “We identified one of them last week and one on Monday.” Merry says that at this point the criminals have been calling home phones and seem to be going through the phone directory. The scammers started on December 28 with the residents of Aston Gardens North then went on to Aston Courtyards.
Merry says, “They call you up and say they are from your financial institution. They have been saying Bank of America or Wells Fargo. If you say, ‘No, I don’t bank there,’ they just hang up. If you say “yes,” then the caller says he or she is from the fraud department. They give you a fake identification number and an 800 number to call back if you wish. It is their 800 number, not the banks. They say that you aren’t the only one in the area with this problem. They say that there are FedEx people in your area to pick up your credit cards.”
“Fifteen minutes later a man pulls up in a large, black Cadillac with tinted windows. He is wearing a FedEx uniform. You were told that he would have an envelope addressed to the Fraud Department and that you should put in your card in it and seal the envelope. A well-spoken, articulate man hands you the envelope and says, ‘Put in your bank card and any other cards you think might be compromised.’ He gives you a receipt.”
“After he and his partner leave, they hit stores and buy $495 or less of gift cards or merchandise from several stores. They choose this amount because if a purchase is under $500 and they have the physical cards in hand, most stores won’t ask for identification.”
“These criminals average $2,500 per card per day. This began on December 28. We thought they stopped, but it started up again.” One aspect of these crimes that Merry finds to be especially upsetting is that the scammers are actually going to the doors of their victims.
If you are a victim of this or any other scam or even if you are contacted by the scammers but avoid falling victim, call 813.242.5515 and talk to Deputy Merry or his assistant Michelle. Your information will help them catch the scammers. If someone gets money from you, you will need to write a full report. They can help you with this.
“Over 25 individuals have come forward so far. We have more numbers from cards these scammers have used, but right now we don’t know the owners.”
A few important reminders. If someone calls you and asks for your credit card number, never give it to them. Banks will never ask for it. The exact details of the scams change from day to day.
Second, if someone calls saying they are from your bank, hang up, look in your phone directory or other reference and call the bank yourself. Whenever you are in doubt, hang up and contact places and phone numbers that you can verify are real.
Third, anyone can be a victim. Even a law enforcement officer. Someone tried to log into Deputy Merry’s bank account, so the bank sent Merry a code. While Merry was on his way to a call, someone phoned and asked him for the bank code. He was preoccupied, a perfect situation for scammers. Luckily, it seemed “off” to him, and he didn’t give the scammers the information. If you are a victim, report it. You will save others from the same fate.
Finally, consider attending Deputy Merry’s presentations. He will talk to you about the latest scams, you can ask him questions, and you can learn about other schemes from your friends and neighbors. The schedule for monthly seminars is 1 p.m. Ripple Room, Kings Point on the second Tuesday; 11 a.m. Freedom Auditorium, Freedom Plaza on the third Tuesday, and 10 a.m. Sandpiper Room, Atrium on the third Wednesday.
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