3OYS: Tolleson woman buys into Visa scam

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

TOLLESON, Ariz. -- Someone claiming to be from Visa says you're part of a class action lawsuit and they want to mail you a $20,000 credit card as part of a settlement. The problem is it's all a lie.

Annette Zinck has been through a lot dealing with high-pressure, profanity-laced phone call solicitations.

“Hello! How is that? How am I rude ma’am?”

The guy who sounded all worked up on the phone actually started off as a nice guy, Zinck says, a nice guy who called out of the blue with an offer.

“They told me that I was under a federal mandate and it was a class action lawsuit from Visa where I could get a card for a $20,000 limit if I paid a fee," Zinck said.

She figured a Visa card with a $20,000 limit could come in handy someday, and that “nice” guy was very convincing.

"It would be great to have if something broke in my house, like my air conditioners or my hot water heater went out, you know, something for emergencies," Zinck said.
To seal the deal, all Zinck had to do was send in a processing fee, and the Visa card would be on the way within an hour. But that hour came and went.

"The first time, I think it was like $300," she said of the processing fee.

But that was just the first time she sent money. There were others.

"The next day, he called first thing in the morning and said, 'Aw, the courier messed up. They didn't process you. There's another processing fee,' and this just continued day after day," Zinck said.

She wired the man money again and again and again through MoneyGram. In fact, she wired him various amounts of money nearly a dozen different times all in an effort to get that $20,000 Visa card.

Unfortunately, she didn't catch on that she was being scammed until it was too late.

"The total I paid with MoneyGram fees is $3,500," she said.

Zinck acknowledges she has seen previous 3 On Your Side reports where we've warned folks to never wire money to strangers.

"I always think, 'Wow, they're stupid. How could they fall for that?' But here, look at me. I fell for it. He was convincing," she said.

When Zinck realized she had been taken for $3,500, she told that nice man to take a hike and stop calling her.

“OK, Annette, listen! I can’t (inaudible). I’m not trying to harass you. If you don’t want my help you can say that," he told her.

Visa has posted information on their website warning consumers about scams like this. Zinck says it's been a costly lesson.

"They always say watch your surroundings. You've got to pay attention to who's calling you, too. I mean, you never know," Zinck said. "Like I said, I thought I was smarter than that, but they're convincing."

We've said it before and we’ll say it again, never wire money to someone you don't know. Wiring almost always involves some kind of a scam.