We all know about the growing menace of identity theft. We may even know of someone who has been a victim of identity theft (or you may even be a victim of one!). Chances are, the stories we hear of identity theft often relates to someone stealing a credit card to purchase mostly big-ticket items. Hence, we often read of warnings to e-tailers (PowerHomeBiz has several articles on credit card fraud) about large orders with a request to ship the items immediately as a sign of possible fraud.
Well, today, we realized we were a victim of credit card fraud from a non-typical identity thief. Instead of purchasing physical goods (PowerHomeBiz does not sell anything physical anyway except for our CD-ROM), the identity thief purchased advertising space from us. To promote their website!
The advertiser, GeekTeck.net, first purchased advertising space (sponsored text links) from us in February. The campaign must have worked because they renewed the campaign for another month in March. This May, they renewed the campaign for another 3 months. The New York-based GeekTeck.net offers a merchant reselling program for a fee of $99/month.
But today (May 25), we received two chargeback charges from our merchant account provider. The credit card owner (a consulting business in Cincinnati, Ohio) complained that they never authorized the charges we made on their credit card account, along with a dozen other charges from other businesses (in one day alone, more than $10,000 was charged on the credit card!). I talked with someone from the company and she said that they have already closed this business credit card after discovering the fraudulent charges. They are also not connected in anyway with GeekTeck.net or involved in the same line of business as Geekteck.net.
We should have known better, but we were not expecting identity thieves to buy advertising to promote their businesses! There were warning signs that we missed. For one, they listed the address as Cincinnati OH when they first placed their advertising order, which is the address of the correct credit card holder (Geekteck’s website list them as located in New York). In their renewal order this May, they used a different credit card account with Connecticut as the address (maybe because the first OH card has already been closed).
The listing in Better Business Bureau also raised some flags: according to the BBB of Metropolitan New York, the mail they sent in May to the company Liquidation Services Inc. (listed in GeekTeck.net’s website as their main company) was returned by the post office.
We have contacted GeekTeck and removed all their advertising campaign from PowerHomeBiz.com. We have also reimbursed the companies defrauded (chargebacks, however, are never fun). By going public with this snafu, we hope that our visitors who responded to their offer would not be victimized by this company and use their credit card information.
It’s sad, but there are a lot of crazy people on the Internet. Be careful!