Full Version: IP relay scam - beware!

From: Colin (MATROPHY) [#1]
 15 Jan 2007

Got a series of IP relay calls the last couple of days for an order that sounded too good to be true. The IP relay is the service that deaf or speech-impaired people can use to communicate over the phone using a human operator as a go-between. Apparently it is free and anyone in the world can call anyone else in the world for free - paid for by the government and ultimately by us via those 'cost recovery fess' on our phone bills.

The order was for 100 trophies - about $1600 worth. There were some fishy aspects to the calls and to the order and I asked for a credit card number to hold the merchandise before I did any ordering or engraving.

Sure enough, the credit card was declined, and on a hunch, I googled 'internet relay scam' and see that I was correct - it was a con game that this person "reverend something-or-other" was perpetrating.

He called on the phone, after I emailed him to tell him that he would have to come to the store to complete the order, and tried to give me another card number. I refused and asked him to come to the store to complete the transaction and he then tried to get me to ship the trophies to him as he was 'on a crusade in New York City' and couldn't make it to our store to complete the transaction. He offered to pay extra for my trouble.

A lot of good information is here:


or by googling 'internet relay scam'. The above article is from 2004 so maybe this is already common knowledge. One article I read is that they tend to concentrate on one industry until the word gets out and then move on to another industry. In case they are moving to target our industry, I thought I would pass it on.

What happened - or almost happened - to me is textbook. I guess they try and get the goods shipped before the credit card is declined or discovered to be stolen and hope to resell the goods. Apparently they target mom-and-pop businesses and don't care what they get sent to them as long as they can re-sell the items.

I have had legitimate internet relay calls from hearing-impaired customers and this makes me sad because I now will be reluctant to accept the calls. The solution I guess will be to ask these people to come to the store to place orders.

EDITED: 30 Jan 2007 by HARVEY-ONLY

From: basehorawards [#2]
 16 Jan 2007
To: Colin (MATROPHY) [#1] 16 Jan 2007


I just had a similar experience.


I still have not figured out how they get any real money out of the deal.

From: UncleSteve [#3]
 16 Jan 2007
To: basehorawards [#2] 16 Jan 2007

Hmmm..... Let's see!

Credit card bounces.... They offer to make a direct transfer to cover the order.

You give them your bank account information for the transfer plus some "extra" information they need for tax purposes for the purchase.

The transfer is done but as a withdrawal, NOT a deposit.

If you ship the order, they receive the merchandise and the cc is refused as lost/stolen/expired/etc. and they can sell/keep/use the merchandise and they go on to the next vendor.....

From: basehorawards [#4]
 16 Jan 2007
To: UncleSteve [#3] 16 Jan 2007

I would never make it as a criminal! If only we could get them to work that hard at making an honest living. Wow.

From: joyce (JLADY) [#5]
 16 Jan 2007

We just got an internet relay phone call, we didn't accept and hung up on them.

From: Rose (RSLIEPKA) [#6]
 29 Jan 2007
To: Colin (MATROPHY) [#1] 30 Jan 2007

I got the phone call today. This guy wanted 1000 resin figures at 9.95, never questioned the price....
Thanks for your heads up, it really helped alert me. The other night a con artist on a CNN show said they way he knew he had a mark was he would tell the person something totally outrageous. If the person answered "Absolutely" he knew he had them. I quoted the guy 9.95 for a 7.50 item and the guy never asked for a discount for quantity.

The IP lady agreed with me that it was a scam and we hung up.

From: PenTrophy (PENINSULATROPHY) [#7]
 6 Feb 2007

Yep Just called me in the Northwest... 400 Bobbleheads.........

Boy, I could sure use that $3,800.........

Gave me three creditcards to use...... and then came the shipping request anfter I told them they were on order (not) Rev, Something or other in Ghana

Tried to report the fraud to the credit card company.....what a nightmare..... no wonder they lose so much money to this scam......

From: Colin (MATROPHY) [#8]
 6 Feb 2007

I have received 3 more of these calls since I posted the original warning. I have been trying to figure out a way to make sure that I when I refuse the IP call that I am not depriving a truly hearing-impaired person of this valuable service.

Now the first thing I do is ask the operator to ask the caller where this call is originating from. If it's a local person I plan on asking them to come to the store. Not one of these calls is from a local person so once they tell me where they are calling from - the last one was from Detroit and I'm in California - I ask the operator to hang up.

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