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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Strange Brew: An Interesting Tea Story

Here's a story for you.

On December 11, I received an email from wu-yisource.com.  When I Googled the site, I discovered that they sell weight loss tea.  The scam of the offer that they present on their website is that they will give you a "free" trial of the tea, but you have to provide a credit card to pay the $4.95 shipping fee.  Then, once they have your credit card, they keep charging you a monthly fee indefinitely.  According to online reports, customer service will give you the runaround, and sometimes contacting the company results in only a recorded message.  It seems like it's a fairly common internet scam and this monthly recurring charge is how they make their money.

The thing is, I didn't fall for the scam.  At the time that the email was sent and the order was placed, I was asleep.  I had never visited the website and I had no idea where the email came from.  The interesting thing, though, is that I am in the process of changing my name, and I'm in the process of transferring my mail from the PO Box where it goes now to my house.  I also changed my email address recently and am (slowly) going through the process of changing that.  With so many things in flux, if you were to get some of my information, some of it might be out of date.  The email from wu-yi source had everything correct - Name, Address, Email, and also included my correct cell phone number.  Since I have three credit cards and two of them are still in my old name, this was strange.

I immediately logged into my credit card accounts and checked them online.  There were no strange charges.  I ran a virus scan, etc, and there was no problem with my PC.  Since nothing had happened except the email, I decided to ignore it and just keep an eye on my credit cards.

A few days later (I believe it was 12/13), I received a phone call from Wu-Yi Source.  They were "verifying my information" and wanted to know what my credit card number was.  I told them that I did not place an order with them, and I would not be giving them my credit card number.  The phone operator gave me the last 4 digits of the credit card used to place the order, saying it was a Visa, and I double checked my credit cards and saw that the digits did not match any credit card of mine.  The operator told me that perhaps it was a gift (GREAT gift!!), and I said no, cancel the order, that I did not want to do business with them and had no interest in the tea.  She said that the order was canceled and that was the end of the conversation.

I thought this really was the end of it, but I continued to monitor my credit cards for the next couple of weeks and saw nothing unusual or unauthorized.  I went to the wu-yisource website and attempted to submit an order with an invalid credit card number and could not, so if my "order" was placed online, it was placed with a real credit card.

Then, on January 7, I came home from work to find a package from Wu-Yi Source on my front step.  Again, I logged into my credit card accounts online.  This time, I found a $12.95 charge from a credit monitoring service on one of my Visa Cards (which happens to still be in my previous name).  It was charged on 12/29 (I hadn't checked my account since the morning of 12/29 when I was paying my bills).  I hadn't checked my credit report during this fiasco because the last time I received a credit report for free (from annualcreditreport.com) was April 2008, and I needed to wait the full year to get the next free one.  So, I called Chase to report the problem.  They put me in touch with creditreport.com, which was the website that charged the transaction.

On the phone with the creditreport.com person, I was told that the account had been opened in someone else's name (they would give me the initials, but no other information).  I said that I did not know anyone with those initials.  They told me that they would close the account and refund the $12.95.  They also suggested that the person whose credit report was obtained was probably not the person who obtained it, and that they used my credit card to pay for it in order to keep from being caught.

I called Chase back, and had my credit card account closed, and Chase said that I will not be responsible for the $12.95 charge.  I also contacted Experian and had a fraud alert placed on my credit report.  This allowed me to see my credit report, and there was nothing unusual on the report.  Creditreport.com did refund me the $12.95, so there has still been nothing  horrible happening as a result of this.

In the meantime, I have an unopened box of what is supposedly tea.  I can't decide if I should refuse the package and return to sender, or if I should open it in order to check out a packing slip.  Is there anything else that I can do with this situation?  While Wu-yi source does have a track record online of being scammers, there is nothing else online that I can find that is like this. 

5 comments:

Nick said...

I'd have it returned. Don't accept it, just completely wash your hands of it.

landlord210 said...

Check all three credit reports and place fraud alerts on all three as well. Since the activity is fairly recent, each credit report could show something different. I feel for you. What a pain in the butt.

Wacky Neighbor said...

I would actually open it up, see if there was any useful information in it, and then pitch it. This is almost certainly a scam by the tea company itself (or otherwise a very clever and mischevious individual who was able to open a credit card in your name and decided to buy you tea with your new card). Just keep tabs on your accounts and your credit report and they will likely go away.

Kim said...

Experian contacted the other 2 agencies on my behalf. I've gotten a letter from TransUnion confirming the request, but haven't heard from... the other one, I forget the name right now.

WN, Todd felt the same as you - it's a scam by the tea company to get my CC number. But, who would give out their CC number to someone on the phone who wants them to order something that they never ordered? That part doesn't make sense to me. And why would they still send the tea? The scam I've read online is that people actually order the tea and then can't get the charges to stop. The whole thing baffles me.

The good news is that the tea was shipped USPS and federal law states that you can't mail someone something that they didn't ask for and then expect payment later.

Sandra said...

Return to sender, unopened and get confirmation. Wonder who is at the bottom of this...

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