Global credit card racket thwarted by Ballina businessman
By Alex Easton firstname.lastname@example.org THE crooks behind an international credit card fraud syndicate thought they'd hit pay-dirt when they set their sights on Ballina businessman Peter Hampton.
But the owner of Alpha Commercial Equipment turned the scam back on them, stringing them along as he cancelled stolen card after stolen card.
Now Mr Hampton is preparing a complaint for Interpol to stop a group he says is ripping off businesses and credit card holders in Australia and the US.
Mr Hampton said the group targeted him last week, when he was called by a man calling himself Bob Wall and claiming to be from Hawthorn, Brisbane.
The man ordered two fridges and tried to pay for them over the phone by credit card, which was refused for lack of funds.
That was not suspicious, but Mr Hampton said he thought it odd when the man later supplied new numbers for each fridge.
Alarm bells went off the following Monday, when an email arrived with shipping details, a third card number, and details of plans to use the fridges in Africa.
Why would an African company buy Spanish-made fridges from a small business in Ballina?
Checks revealed there was no Bob Wall in Hawthorn and checks by The Northern Star revealed the numbers given by the so-called Mr Wall were fakes.
'Mr Wall' spoke with an Australian accent but Mr Hampton said he noticed a time delay during their phone conversations; and heard in the background what might have been a Muslim prayer bell, chickens, and a person whispering to Mr Wall.
Checks with the Commonwealth Bank's credit card division revealed he was dealing with a Dubai-based syndicate which stole credit card numbers and used them to sting cardholders and businesses for thousands of dollars.
Mr Hampton said he was told the syndicate used a random number generator to replace the final four digits of a legitimate set of credit card numbers.
The group would try the new number on a small purchase. If that worked, they knew they had a real credit card.
The goal of the scam was to get the shipping money.
The group paid shipping money using a stolen number and nominated a preferred courier. The unsuspecting business would pass the money on to the 'courier' a bogus company hiding behind a legitimate and unrelated company which in turn paid the scammers.
Because Mr Hampton twigged early, he didn't forward the shipping money and was able to refund the stolen credit cards and have them cancelled.
When he realised what was happening, Mr Hampton said he started reporting and cancelling each card number the scammers sent him, telling them each time the card had been cancelled for having insufficient funds.
He cancelled another seven cards before telling Mr Wall he was on to him.
He had contacted local police and the Federal Police and was preparing a complaint to go to Interpol via local police.