Scammer Picks Wrong Sympathy Handicap

Any good grifter knows that a classic shortcut to sympathy is to fake a handicap. This guy, however, should have thought about the distancing effect of using a telephone relay service, which is designed for people who are hearing impaired.

DeVoss Auto Repair in Richmond says they were contacted twice this month by the scam artist,s but didn’t fall prey to their tricks.


Here’s how it works: the hearing impaired customer types in their question and they dial into the relay operator who then contacts the business and acts as an intermediary.

In this scam, using a phone relay system, the scam artist called DeVoss Auto stating that he wanted to buy a used car in Florida and he wanted it delivered to Richmond to make any necessary repairs.

But the caller said the person delivering the car would not accept credit cards and asked DeVoss to write a check and mail it to the tow service, money that the caller said he would reimburse DeVoss with his own credit card.

With a transparently ridiculous advance check fraud angle like that, we can understand why the scammer would want to find something to make his case more appealing. We’ll never understand why he though going through an anonymous third party via the telephone was a good idea, though.

Update: It turns out, this is not as wacky or uncommon as I thought. Our own Laura Northrup posted a very informative piece related to Nigeria-based telephone relay service scams earlier this summer: “Wells Fargo Keeps Hanging Up On Your Deaf Grandmother”

“Better Business Bureau Warns of Scam Artists Posing as Deaf People” [WTVR via BBB]
(Photo: Sam Ruaat)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.