The Federal Trade Commission of the United States is making efforts to stop a scam that has cost consumers over $10 million of their hard earned money because of a scheme in which they were billed on their debit and credits for amounts lesser than $10.
The legal action initiated by the Federal Trade Commission names puts forth the names of sixteen companies that were used to generate bills for debit and credit cards. The money thus paid was transferred to other bank accounts in the United States and finally to bank accounts in countries like Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Kyrgyztan and Cyprus.
A majority of the million customers who were victims of this scheme were not even aware that they were being duped due to the miniscule amounts billed on their cards.
CBC News has court documents in its possession which mentions that the people involved in this scam are yet to be identified.
As per the information given by the FTC, people who were referred to as 'money mules' were enlisted online and these people set up innumerable fake companies and opened multiple accounts in various banks to handle monetary transactions.
The court action did not contain names of Americans who were lured into this. Whether they will be facing criminal charges or not is yet to be ascertained.
In order to make the entire set up look credible, the fake companies created a virtual office address in the proximity of a real merchant location. They also put up a website address and phone number. Some of these fake companies, in an effort to look more trustworthy even mentioned the details of their tax number.
While the companies involved in this scheme were operational since 2006, they were set up in the year 2002 itself. The FTC has unearthed 16 such companies that were processing fake charges and ordered their immediate closure.
Officials are still trying to find out how these fraudsters got access to more than a million debit and credit card holders information. What is remarkable is that these fake companies actually ran a credit check on all their customers to make sure they were worthy of credit.
When customers with a keen detail for eye did manage to find something suspicious and dialed the toll free number mentioned, they discovered that the phone number did not work. Sometimes they did get a voice recording asking them leave a message; however, no return call was ever made.