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Home  |  News  |  Area stores lose $4,600 to con men

Area stores lose $4,600 to con men
Monday, January 9, 2012

ORANGEBURG, SC - It's an old scam with a new twist that has already duped area businesses out of $4,600.

Scammers typically target private citizens with fake lottery winnings, check depositing schemes, or the lesser seen email from a relative in distress overseas.

Authorities are now warning about a scam that targets business owners and employees. So far, the scheme been successful at least twice in Orangeburg County.

In both instances, the caller identifies himself as a Western Union technical support employee.

Although one business's caller ID indicated Western Union was on the line, company officials have said the individuals calling were not representatives of Western Union, according to incident reports.

The first case came to light Dec. 28 when a Bamberg Highway business in Orangeburg first reported the scam. An employee said a caller who sounded foreign claimed to be Western Union tech support checking their systems.

The caller then had the victim transfer two amounts totaling $1,876.

The employee later contacted Western Union and was told the money went to a prepaid card. Officials from the genuine Western Union said they would try to stop the card but noted it may have already gone through.

On Dec. 30, a Five Chop Road convenience store owner received a similar call, and the scam became a bit clearer.

The caller gave the employee several of what he said were test numbers which would allow the support tech to determine if the machine was operating correctly.

The caller said the first two numbers, 91405 and 92405, were not successful. The employee was given yet another number, 93405, to test.

It was determined those were not test numbers but rather dollar amounts. The employee realized he had sent $2,776 to the caller.

Western Union confirmed the numbers were not test numbers.

After law enforcement was called, an Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office deputy arrived at the shop when the caller called again saying another round of tests had to be conducted. The deputy noted the caller had intimate knowledge of the Western Union system.

When prompted to enter another dollar amount, deputies quietly advised the employee to enter another number to purposely make the transaction fail.

The clerk was then instructed to tell the caller to send a tech by the store, but the caller insisted on completing the test.

In both Orangeburg County cases, the caller was based in the 863 area code in lower central Florida, authorities say.

Orangeburg Department of Public Safety officials said no cases had been reported in the city as of Jan. 4.

Business owners or employees who receive such a call are asked to contact their local law enforcement agency. The Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office can be reached at 803-534-3550, and the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety can be reached at 803-534-2812.

Source: http://thetandd.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/area-stores-lose-to-con-men/article_562149b6-3a7f-11e1-bb66-0019bb2963f4.html

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