Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Risky venture

Resident falls victim to credit card scam

August 23, 2001

A Eudora woman fell prey to a telephone credit card scam that promised to transfer high interest credit card debts to a credit card with 6.9 percent interest.

Consumer Information Telephone of Ottawa, Canada called Karen Williams promising her a sweet deal.

"They made it sound like a good deal," she said.

The representative, who identified himself as Dave Simmons, said he needed her bank account number.

"I gave it to them, which was the dumbest thing," Williams said.

The company used her account number to withdraw $395, which they said was their fee. When Williams said she wasn't interested Simmons told her to wait, and the company would send her information about the deal. If she still wasn't interested, he gave her a number to call.

Instead, Williams found $395 missing from her Firstar account.

She filed a report with the Lawrence Police Department Aug. 15.

Sgt. Mike Pattrick said he doesn't personally take reports, and therefore didn't know if any other victims of the same company filed reports.

He said when a case arises out of local jurisdiction, police have to cooperate with other authorities and share resources.

Because companies that perform telephone scams move around and change their names, tracking them down can be difficult.

"It does create a problem, but we're used to working through those kinds of problems. It makes the investigation more difficult, but it doesn't mean we don't investigate it."

Public information officer Mark Ohlemeier of the Kansas Attorney General's office said they hadn't received complaints about a company with the name Consumer Information Telephone.

The northeast Kansas branch of the Better Business Bureau did receive a similar complaint from an individual in Topeka who also had $395 taken from a bank account.

Better Business Bureau director of operations Janet Kleppin said these types of businesses do their best to protect themselves against claims of fraud by taping conversations of the sales pitch.

"The company will come up with a recording that something was done with (the consumer's) authority," Kleppin said. They might then stop the tape, leaving out a part where the customer changes his or her mind.

The company's location in Canada also keeps it protected, Kleppin said.

"It's an extremely different situation in that our laws don't apply," she said. "In order to seek some kind of extradition, it really does take a substantial amount of money."

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