A Union woman contacted The Missourian after someone tried to get credit card information from her.
Delma Holdmeyer said she wasn’t fooled after she received a letter from a company called “Lead Group” that stated she had won a $100 gift card to Wal-Mart or Target stores.
She was instructed to call a toll-free number and she was then asked for credit card information. Holdmeyer was told that there was a $1.99 processing fee.
The person on the other end of the phone would not give her the address of the business, but said it was located in Florida.
Holdmeyer said the company was trying to scam people out of $1.99, or possibly more by stealing credit card information.
She called the Union Wal-Mart and a store representative agreed that the company was trying to scam people.
Union Police Detective Sgt. John Biser said there is no reason to give personal or financial information over the phone.
“Never give your credit card information, date of birth, Social Security number or full name,” he said. “They can use that online to purchase anything.”
Often, the items that are purchased by scammers are computer programs, or online cellphone minutes in which a physical address is not required for purchase.
Biser added that legitimate businesses are not going to ask for money up front.
“They won’t ask for a processing fee or money unless trying to get something from you,” he said.
Biser said it is difficult to arrest anyone in these type of international crimes because the suspects can’t be located.
He noted that the majority of the schemes rely on the victim to believe the suspects are operating from the United States. The suspect will use local telephone numbers and local addresses when contacting their potential targets.
In reality, the phone numbers are routed to a foreign country. The building addresses used are false or empty.
Biser said a resource for more information about scams and identity theft is www.IC3.gov, or the Union police station. Biser can be contacted at 636-583-3700.
Following are some more popular scams that have been reported in the area.
Lotteries — Victims are randomly contacted by e-mail and advised that they were selected as the winner of an international lottery. To claim your winnings an initial fee, ranging from $100 to $5,000, is requested to initiate the process. The requested fee is usually sent via MoneyGram or Western Union.
Nigerian Letter — This scam combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, e-mail, or fax is received by the potential victim. The communication from individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials offers the recipient the “opportunity” to share in a percentage of millions of dollars, soliciting for help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are out of the country.
Phishing/Spoofing — Phishing and spoofing are somewhat synonymous in that they refer to forged or faked electronic documents. Spoofing generally refers to the dissemination of an email which is forged to appear as though it was sent by someone other than the actual source.
The source will send an e-mail falsely claiming to be a legitimate business requesting credit card numbers, and bank account information after directing the user to visit a specified website. The website may appear to be very real but is only a gateway to funnel information to a third party.
Employment/Business Opportunity — Victims are contacted by bogus foreign-based companies that are recruiting citizens in the United States on several employment-search websites for work-at-home employment opportunities. These positions often involve reselling or reshipping merchandise to destinations outside the United States.
Almost always the merchandise is purchased with stolen credit cards and, if the victim who is doing the shipping, has to pay the bill.
Identity Theft — Identity theft occurs when someone appropriates the victim’s personal information without their knowledge to commit theft or fraud. Identity theft is a vehicle for perpetrating other types of fraud schemes.
Typically, victims are led to believe they are divulging sensitive personal information to a legitimate business, sometimes as a response to an email solicitation to update billing or membership information, or as an application to a fraudulent Internet job posting.