In a scam known as "credit muling", scammers are taking advantage of cash strapped victims by fooling them into purchasing new wireless contracts. A "credit mule" is a victim of fraud that is persuaded to use his/her name, personal information and credit to obtain something of value, a cell phone in this case.
Scammers will exploit people who need money fast. Often times they will look for homeless shelters, plasma donation centers, or college campuses. The scammer tells the individual they will pay them, usually between $100-$200, to go into a cellular phone store and buy a cell phone by obtaining a new wireless contract. They are then asked to hand over the phone to the scammer, are paid the promised money, and that they can cancel the contract within 30 days. The catch is that when they go into the store, they are unable to terminate the contract since they do not have the phone with them. By that point, the phone is gone and the individual is stuck with a two year contract and the monthly payments that go along with it.
Scammers will turn around and unlock the phone and sell them for profit. An unlocked phone without a service contract can be sold in the US for upwards of $500-$600, but are worth thousands overseas. As for the consumer? They are responsible for the monthly payments, and are turned over to collections if they cannot pay for it. This can negatively affect their credit worthiness.
How can you avoid this scam?
-Read your contract and know what you are committing to before signing.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If getting paid to simply take out a wireless contract sounds too easy, it's a scam. Walk away.
-Report scam to BBB and FTC
Contact the Mid-Missouri BBB at 573-886-8965 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to report a scam.