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Rip-Off Alert: Be stingy giving out personal info

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 7/16/2013 5:23 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- A Rip-Off Alert reminder: Never give out your personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know. These victims, unfortunately, learn ignoring that rule can be costly.

Surveillance photos inside a bank show a con man named Joseph Dees gets a cash advance on a stolen credit card. His co-conspirator, Courtney McFeater, is shown leaving various stores after making big-ticket purchases.

“They ran up approximately $270,000 loss in a six-month period,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Brian Plants.

Dees would search the internet for office managers or someone working in a busy doctor’s office or real estate agency. Dees would then tell the victims that he was calling because they didn’t show for jury duty.

“He would say we can take care of this problem right now, you’re delinquent jury duty, but we just need some information over the phone,” Plants said.

He would proceed to ask for Social Security numbers, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and current address.

With that information the suspects could call a credit card company and simply ask for a replacement card to be sent to an address they had access to.

“After cards are delivered, they would use different cell phones numbers to call and activate the cards and then use the cards until they were shut off,” Plants said.

Victims told postal inspectors that the suspect was very convincing.

“He was very convincing and very calm, and if they didn’t want to give out their information, he would somehow keep them talking and convince them to give out personal information on the phone,” Plants said.

The lesson, according to Plants: “If someone calls you, never give out their personal information to them because you don’t know who is on the other end of the phone call.”

The suspects in this case pleaded guilty and received sentences between two and six years in jail. Postal inspectors say in all there are about 50 victims.

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