Southtowns family gets flooded with calls from Internet scam victims

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MARILLA, N.Y. (WIVB)–The phones at Roni Fitzgerald’s house have been ringing practically non-stop since last Thursday, day and night. The calls are coming from all over the country, consumers trying to get information about their Internet orders.

Fitzgerald and her sisters live at home in the Town of Marilla, and at first they thought the dozens of phone calls were an honest mistake.

“But then the phone kept ringing and these people were saying that nobody was ever contacting them back, they had emailed, and they heard nothing.”

They eventually learned the callers had been ordering merchandise through a retail website that listed an East Aurora address that does not exist, and a phone number that happened to be the Fitzgeralds’.

Roni tried ordering an item herself from the website to find out how the scam works, “Put something in the basket, get to the payment option, and two of the payment options is Western Union or a wire transfer.”

But Fitzgerald found of the payment options, the credit card option fails, so shoppers were directed by email to wire their payments–a consumer no-no, according to Melanie McGovern, a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.

“Unless you know exactly who it is going to, we always tell people don’t wire any money because the second you wire money, it is gone.”

McGovern discovered this particular scam is part of an international operation, “It is registered to a company that has over two-million domains registered in China.”

According to McGovern if a retailer has the resources to conduct business on the Internet, payments for their products should be processed the same way, electronically with credit cards.

“If they can’t take a credit card, how can they process your order?  What are they doing with that money once it is gone? You want to make sure you have that protection if something should happen.”

McGovern says web scammers prey on consumers who use search enginesto find bargains. The scammers pose specific keywords to attract their victims.

The Better Business Bureau strongly recommends thoroughly checking out the websites first, in your web browser, not by a search engine, and never wire a payment to a website.

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