Fri, Jul 04, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Beware credit-card cons, lawmaker warns public

COSTLY HEALTHCARE Wei Ming-ku held a press conference yesterday to alert people to the dangers of fraud artists using public spaces to sell their goods

By Roger Cheng and Jimmy Chuang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER AND STAFF REPORTER

DPP Legislator Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷) held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday to publicize a case of alleged credit-card fraud and to urge people to be cautious of con artists.

"According to a petition to the police, the suspects set up a mobile stand in front of a post office in Changhua to sell their health-care products," Wei said.

Most people would not think anything would be wrong with such sales or the products because nobody would believe that con artists would commit a crime at such a public location, Wei said.

"This is a serious problem," he said.

The petitioner, identified only by her surname, Chang, told the press conference that her cousin, surnamed Tsao, responded to an invitation from woman named Lin Tsu-chun (林姿君) to examine her company's new health-care products as he headed into the post office in Tienchung Township, Changhua on Feb. 20.

Lin gave Tsao a free blood-pressure test and then promoted her company's magnetic belt, which she said would improve his circulation.

According to Chang, Tsao agreed to buy one of the NT$40,000 belts by making monthly payments by check.

Chang said Lin then asked Tsao to make a NT$80,000 down payment by credit card to guarantee that he would remit the monthly checks, since he would be taking the belt home with him that day.

According to Chang, Lin promised Tsao that when he sent in his first check, the NT$80,000 would be credited to his account.

Chang said that, according to Tsao, Lin, using the same excuse of needing a guarantee for the full amount of the belt, then asked him to sign four credit-card transaction slips for a total of NT$295,000, which Lin said would be submitted over the course of the month.

A senior police officer at the press conference said that it would be difficult for Tsao to get a refund because he had signed the four slips, thereby authorizing the NT$295,000 transaction.

The credit-card transactions were totally legal, said Pan Wen-chang (潘文章), Third Section chief of the Criminal Investigation Bureau's Seventh Division.

"However, we have accepted the complaint and have begun an investigation," Pan said. "Although the transactions are legal, the saleswoman still allegedly cheated Tsao."

Tsao may not have been the only victim of the con. According to Wei, an attorney named Chou Liang-jen (周良貞) was listed as a legal consultant to the health-care products company and reportedly had endorsed the belt. He said Chou has denied any connection with the company.

"Chou said she did not know that her name was being used as a reference. She said that she knew about the belt but that she had never endorsed either the company or the belt," Wei said.

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