AUBURN — An expensive camera was delivered to the Auburn Public Library on Thursday, a camera the library didn’t order.

It was part of a scam to swindle a company out of its products, Auburn Public Library Director Mamie Anthoine Ney said Monday.

The fraud scheme includes telling consumers they’ve been scammed and trying to trick them into returning a product to the wrong address, Ney said.

On Thursday, a package containing a nice camera with a $1,400 invoice from Buydig.com, an online company, arrived at the library.

“We signed for it,” Ney said.

When she saw the camera she was puzzled because she hadn’t ordered it and neither had her staff, she said.

She called Buydig.com. They told her the purchase was made Wednesday on the library’s credit card. “They had all of the credit card information,” she said.

Soon, Ney received a call from someone identifying himself as “Tom Coughlin” who said he was with the Bank of America fraud department. He said a fraudulent purchase had been made in the library’s name. “He would work with the company that sent it, let them know this is a fraudulent purchase,” Ney said.

The scammer said that because the credit card had been compromised, it would be canceled and a new card ordered. He also said she would receive a mailing label to return the camera.

After hanging up, Ney was suspicious.

“It just didn’t sit right. His call came out of the blue.” she said She wondered how Bank of America would know a fraudulent purchase was made before she contacted them.

“I called Bank of America,” she said. “They acknowledged the charge. They had no report of a fraud.” 

They had no employee named Tom Coughlin, nor was the phone number the man gave a legitimate Bank of America number. The bank transferred her call to its fraud department, which told Ney it was a new type of scam they’re seeing.

The way it works is: After getting hold of a credit card, scammers order merchandise and have it sent to the cardholder.

“Before we can do anything about it, they call us to say we’re a victim of fraud, that ‘We’ll make arrangements for the camera to go back,’” Ney said.

Scammers send a fake mailing label so the product goes to the scammer.

“They end up with an expensive camera,” Ney said.

Ney filed a report with the Auburn Police Department. As she was writing it, a second man called saying he was from Bank of America and that Ney was the victim of fraud. He wanted her email address so he could send her a return mailing label. “He said, ‘FedEx will be there in a few minutes to pick it up,’” Ney said.

“This guy wanted it done immediately,” she said. She didn’t give him her email address and said she’d call him back. “I never called him back,” she said.

A third man called with a similar message, saying he was from Bank of America’s fraud department and that Ney had been scammed.

Ney said her bank canceled the credit card and issued a new one with higher security features.

Auburn Police Department Lt. Anthony Harrington said what happened to the library “seems very sophisticated, a lot of steps to acquire something.” It’s not a scam his department has seen, but it could be the beginning, he said.

Maine Attorney General’s Office spokesman Timothy Feeley said his office hasn’t seen this kind of scam, and the library director did the right thing.

“Don’t do what the person on the other end of the line tells you to do,” Feeley said.

Harrington and Feeley recommended consumers make independent calls to the companies involved. “Don’t just call the number they gave you,” Feeley said.

Ney used to volunteer at Legal Services for the Elderly helping seniors avoid scams. What happened to her “left me pretty angry,” she said.

On Monday, the camera was on Ney’s desk.

“I’m waiting for the real mailing label to come from Buydig,” she said.

Experts: Check credit card accounts

Auburn Public Library Director Mamie Ney doesn’t know how crooks got the library’s credit card.

Maine Attorney General’s Office spokesman Timothy Feeley said it’s almost impossible for consumers to know how their information was compromised.

“These criminals work very hard to hack systems and skim the information from businesses, emails, and points of sale,” Feeley said. “Once obtained, the information can be bought and sold on websites around the world.”

Experts recommend consumers routinely check their credit card accounts to ensure all purchases were legitimate. If any are not, the consumer should call their credit card company immediately.

AARP’s Fraud Watch warns consumers to be wary of a “test charge” on your credit card, even if it’s only $1. It could be a sign that a scammer has stolen your credit card and is testing it with a small amount to see if it works, according to the AARP.

Some merchants — gas stations and hotels — legitimately place a test charge on credit cards, which can be verified by contacting the business. But if consumers see a small charge and can’t identify the merchant, contact the credit card company immediately, AARP recommends.


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