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After reading a story on www.bodyshopbusiness.com about a Vancouver, Wash., body shop warning of a possible scam involving IP Relay phone service for the hearing impaired, dozens of other shops from around the country have reported receiving a similar call.
So far, tales of a similar scam have flowed in from shops in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Michigan and Oklahoma.
The scam goes as follows: a call is placed to a body shop through IP Relay, a service offered by AT&T, Sprint, MCI and others that allows deaf people and people with speech impediments to connect via any Web-ready computer, PDA or phone. The “customer” claims to need a tow to the shop’s city from somewhere out of state but needs cash because the tow company won’t accept a credit card. The customer then asks the shop to charge an amount ranging from $2,500 to $3,500 to his or her credit card (presumably stolen), then wire the same amount of cash to him or her.
According to a series of articles on the scam (click HERE to read), scammers have been abusing IP Relay a lot lately, primarily because it provides a convenient way for them to hide their identities and lets them make free long distance calls.
Ron Kromer of Ultimate Collision Center in Brick, New Jersey, recently received some IP Relay scam calls and investigated the matter a little further.
“After the second call, I was able obtain an e-mail address,” Kromer said. “We started e-mailing back and forth, and I was able to get a contact person and an address where the money was supposed to be sent, which I forwarded to the FBI.”
Kromer is urging anyone who receives a similar call to file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
BodyShop Business Web Site community member “FixedOn66” posted his own story on www.bodyshopbusiness.com:
“This scam is still going on. We received a similar AT&T relay call a month or so ago (February or March 2009), then again on April 16. The caller stated that his uncle had a 2006 Escalade in Kansas City that needed to be towed to Tulsa. He said to charge $2,500 to his credit card and then wire $2,000 to the towing company and keep $500 for a deposit on work to be done. I told him we couldn’t process such a transaction and instructed him to find a shop in Kansas City to handle the work. I now see that this was an obvious scam. AT&T should be made aware of this.”
To read the original story including the comments of other shops across the country that have been scammed, click HERE.
To sign up as a member of the BodyShop Business Web community so you can post your own comments, click HERE.
To read a story that appeared in The Capital Times of Madison, Wisc., about a shop that was almost scammed, click HERE.