Police report health card scam By Morning Sentinel staff 04/11/2008

A Franklin County detective on Thursday warned of a possible phone scam where the caller offers a free “health care card” that gives the bearer free health care throughout the United States if personal financial information is first provided.
Also on Thursday, Farmington police are working on a money laundering scam that used a Farmington bank to transfer money from a victim who wired $8,800 to someone she thought was selling a personal watercraft on eBay.
According to Franklin County Sheriff’s Detective Tom White, a retired New Vineyard man with disabilities reported on Thursday that a man identifying himself as “Mr. Johnson,” called twice to offer a free health card.
The catch was the man had to give financial information over the phone to activate the card, White said. The resident would not provide the information.
White said the caller knew some information about the resident but there are ways to obtain that data from the Internet.
“This is a daily problem but I want to remind people that a reputable firm would never call and request information over the phone or by the Internet,” White said.
Farmington police Detective Marc Bowering said the eBay fraud he is investigating stems from a bogus sale on the Internet auction site of an $8,800 personal watercraft. The victim, a woman from Ontario, Canada who told Bowering she was a new eBay member, bid that amount but was not the high bidder.
“She was contacted by the seller who told her the high bid didn’t pan out and asked if she was still interested. She said she was and was told to wire the money to a Farmington bank,” Bowering said.
Her mistake, he said, was not to go through the secure, guaranteed payment system eBay uses known as Paypal.
The “seller” allegedly contacted people in Farmington, in Newport News, Va., and in Connecticut, offered to pay them an $800 commission to set up a bank account and routing number, required to transfer funds from one financial institution to another.
When the money arrived, the local accomplice ordered it routed on but first kept his commission, Bowering said.
“It was easy money,” he said.
Police have a local suspect and the case is being referred to the U.S. Secret Service, he said. Betty Jespersen — 778-6991 bjespersen@centralmaine.com Bookmark and share this story: