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Attorney General Long warns small businesses of credit card scam

Attorney General Larry Long is warning South Dakota hunting guides and outfitters of a credit card scam. The Consumer Protection Division has received complaints from two hunting outfitters that have been scammed out of money and several others who have received similar inquires.

South Dakota hunting guides and outfitters typically use their websites as a way to market their services, but this is where the scam begins. The business is contacted via email to reserve a hunting trip. The scammer then provides a stolen credit card number and will try to legitimize the sale by providing the three digit PIN number that is located on the back of most credit cards. The scammer then requests that the total trip be charged to one or more credit cards. They then ask for an additional amount to be charged and request that the business wire the extra money back to their travel agent's bank account to cover costs such as airfare, car rental fees, or taxes.

The "travel agent" in many instances is a third party who believes she or he is working for a legitimate internet based work-at-home business. Others have actually been befriended by the scammer and believe they are helping out a friend by allowing the money to come into their account. The amounts being wired have been in excess of $7,000.

"We have hunting outfitters who have lost thousands of dollars," said Long. "Right now this particular retail business is the target, but with the summer travel season upon us other retailers will likely be the focus of similar scams."

Tips to help avoid becoming a victim:

•NEVER wire money to someone you do not know.

•There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back.

•Be cautious when dealing with individuals who claim to be in another country. The scammers say it's too difficult and complicated to send you the money directly from their country, so they'll arrange for someone in the U.S. to be a third party.

•When in doubt, contact the credit card company to verify card information.

If you have been a scam victim or for more information, contact the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or email at consumerhelp@state.sd.us.