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Scammers Exploit Relay System for the Hearing Impaired


(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned that scam artists are using the relay system for the hearing impaired to target Ohio consumers and small businesses.

"We have received several recent reports from Ohioans who have been targeted by these scams," Attorney General DeWine said. "Many of the complaints come from small businesses who say individuals are trying to use the relay system to defraud them.  Preying on Ohio consumers by using technology dedicated to help the hearing impaired is simply unconscionable."

The relay system is an operator service that allows people who are hearing impaired to make standard phone calls using a keyboard to communicate. The system is designed to allow the hearing impaired person to type a message that is then relayed by the operator to the end user.

To target small businesses, con artists typically pose as deaf consumers and use the relay system to communicate through typed written messages to the business. They pretend to be interested in a product or service and then commit check fraud or use stolen credit cards when making a purchase.

For example, a Cincinnati business received a relay call from a scammer posing as a potential customer. The caller said his car had broken down in Alabama and that his credit card was not accepted there, so he asked the business to charge his credit card, and then wire the money to him. After sending more than $2,000 via wire transfer, the business discovered the credit card was fraudulent.

Similarly, a Zanesville consumer said she received a relay call for furniture she had listed for sale in her local newspaper. She became suspicious when the caller said he wanted to buy the furniture without seeing it. He then sent a check for $800 more than the asking price, with instructions to send back the extra money.

Consumers and businesses, alike, should be wary of anyone who asks for money sent via wire transfer or who overpays for an item and asks for money back.

To report a scam, visit or call 800-282-0515.

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