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Nigerian scammers increasingly are calling US companies on the phone, using relay phone services. These are normally free calls made by supposedly deaf people using keyboards which go to a phone company operator, who places a phone call and speaks for them. Companies such as AT&T offer these services at no cost.

The scams can take several forms, experts say. Very often, scammers order goods with fraudulently obtained credit cards and have them shipped to Africa. They tell their victims it is a rush job that must be in the hands of the air freight company within hours.

The orders have several characteristics. The scammers often type in all caps and their English is poor. They usually want fast shipment (with shipping cost no objection) and most orders are huge in size. Most favourable are commodity item that can be quickly resold.

Never trust Internet relay calls unless you actually know the person calling you, a "worn out relay operator" warns. "They will give you a sob story, they will claim they have a business, they will even pretend to be religious leaders.....they are all liars. Chances are your Nigerian friend is multi tasking and placing numerous calls at once." ®

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