Consumers advised to be wary of international Internet scam targeting deaf community
Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell is warning Vermonters of a scam, which appears to target members of the deaf community. The Attorney General’s Office’s Criminal Division, together with local law enforcement, recently investigated a criminal complaint in which one of Vermont’s deaf citizens was a victim of theft of a vehicle and a money order scam.
This investigation revealed that the perpetrators initially befriended the Vermont victim on Facebook and then through email and online instant messages. The perpetrators then directed her to send money orders out of the country in return for checks. These checks were drawn on the account of out-of-state deaf woman who was also a victim in this scam. This woman had similarly befriended strangers on Facebook who convinced her to send checks to multiple third parties. The checks this woman sent to the victim never cleared and the victim lost several thousand dollars. Furthermore, at the perpetrators’ direction, the victim agreed to have her car picked up from her house, ostensibly to appraise it for a loan. The vehicle, however, was shipped to Nigeria and never returned. All of the contact information for the perpetrators traced back to Nigeria. Because of the location of the perpetrators, the Attorney General’s Office was unable to file criminal charges as part of this investigation and, local law enforcement referred the case to federal authorities.
While the particular victims in this investigation were both members of the deaf community, similar scams have targeted all individuals. Consequently, the Attorney General is asking everyone, not just those in the deaf community, to practice internet safety. Specifically, individuals should be wary of contacts through Facebook, email, and instant messaging from sources they do not know. In addition, individuals should never give out personal information to an unverified source. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime, and it is important that individuals are vigilant about protecting their personal information.
Attorney General, September 12, 2012