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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Scam Alert: Credit Card Hoaxsters Use First Dakota Bank

So I receive the following spam in my inbox from info@firstdakota.com:

Dear Customer,

1 First Dakota National Bank temporarily suspended your account.
Reason: Identity Verification
To verify your account call the total free number: 877-415-6056

Never access the Credit Union's Web site by clicking on a link provided in an e-mail. 1 First Dakota National Bank will never solicit you to provide or update personal or financial information. And, will never send an e-mail containing links to Credit Union's Web sites.

Local: 877-415-6056
Toll Free: 877-415-6056
201 N. Courtland Street
PO Box 609
Chamberlain, SD 57325

Copyright 2009 / 1 First Dakota National Bank - All rights reserved.

First Dakota National Bank is a legit outfit, but I have never done business with them. So I decide to check out the fraudsters. I call the toll-free number and get a machine that identifies itself in a slightly choppy computer voice as "First Dakota National Bank card verification service." It asks for my credit card number, expiration date, and PIN. I enter some bogus numbers, and the machine says my number has been verified. "Thank you for your time. Goodbye." No option to speak to a human... and right now some goofball in Santa Monica has probably already punched my bogus numbers into Amazon.com and found they don't work.

It looks like the scammers are trying same trick with other financial institutions: evidently similar e-mails with the same 877 number went out Tuesday purporting to be from Sun East Federal Credit Union in Pennsylvania.

The hucksters' business model must assume that the cost of taking even a thousand calls on a toll-free line will be offset by the one caller who gives up his credit card info and funds today's surprise shopping spree. Now I suppose it might be nice to get an autodialer to ring up 877-415-6056 20,000 times today, just to bankrupt the thieves on phone charges. But I have finals to study for.


  1. Thanks for the great idea Corey, I might have some free time to kill this afternoon.

    Tim Higgins

  2. The scam has been making the rounds in Yankton for about a week and a half. It started with calls to home and cell phones at all hours of the day (and night) and has since progressed to e-mail. Sneaky sneaks.

  3. Unfortunately, your readers are probably technoliterate enough to ignore these scams. The real victims are the older population who still equate security with a professional sounding message.

  4. A couple of years ago, I got multiple daily phone spam (also known to my warped mind as pspam, with a silent p) messages on my voice mail, offering me a new computer and other goodies for doing some nondescript and stupid thing, the nature of which I can't even recall.

    I traced the call and, to my amazement, turned up an outfit in Salt Lake City! When I called them to let them know that pspam for sales purposes is a federal offense (it is, ain't it?), they said they'd take me off their list.

    The calls ceased until the first of the following month.

    Then, with a certain amount of relish, I called the state attorney's office and got them on the line in a conference-call arrangement with the pspammers. Again, results were positive until the first of the next month.

    At that point, a friend told me I ought to call the police because some local folks (older people who might not be so savvy about tricks of this sort) might get fooled. So I did exactly that, and wouldn't you know it -- the chief of police told me that the pspammers' return number had appeared multiple times on his voice-mail caller ID roster.

    I never got another one of those pspams.

    Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, as long as it's legal. This is where the "Grey Hat Squadron" might come in handy. You know, the ones who hack into the Chinese and Russian military infrastructures and power grids. Legal? All's fair in love and war.


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