A local Delta County resident has become the victim of what is believed to be a Russian credit card scam primarily to purchase laptops, iPods, iPhones and digital cameras.
Delta County Deputy Roque Villarreal and Investigator Jeremy Norsworthy discovered the scam.
It was discovered that unknown criminals, possibly from Russia, fraudulently get credit card numbers through phone or internet phishing, and/or by hacking legitimate business databases.
The items are shipped from purchase to unwitting accomplices that repackage and reship the items to Russian addresses where the items are resold as new items.
The victims are recruited through internet advertisements and/or newspaper advertisements as home shipping agents and most often do not realize that they are a participant in a crime.
In this case they were from Honey Grove and they were recruited through a Sherman newspaper advertisement as package forwarding agents for a fictitious company labeled “DTI Inc.”.
The two Honey Grove accomplices received $20 per package shipped and it is estimated that they have shipped over 100 packages since their employment began near the first of May.
It is also estimated that over $16,000 of stolen merchandise was shipped during this period.
The Delta County Sheriff’s Office has enlisted the enforcement branch of the United States Homeland Security Department to assist in the investigation.
Law enforcement warns the public to beware of internet sites and phone calls seeking personal information.
Sheriff Ricky Smith with the Delta County Sheriff’s Office stated, “The US office of Homeland Security reported that this scam is occurring across the nation. Because of the international issues of jurisdiction, investigation and extradition these crimes are very difficult to solve. ID theft and credit card theft has become a multi-million dollar criminal activity. Credit cards are virtually a way of life today but we should take precautions in their use. Be very careful with internet use of credit cards by being absolutely sure you are on a secure and trusted site. Only release your credit card number over the phone when you are absolutely sure that you are speaking with a trusted source. Additionally beware of internet sites and phone calls initiated by companies representing themselves as legitimate businesses seeking credit card or personal identification information.”