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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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DHS and the Attorney General's Office Warn SD Businesses and the Public of International Telephone Scam

Department of Human Services and the Office of Attorney General Warn South Dakota Businesses and the Public of International Telephone Scam

PIERRE, S.D.- The Department of Human Services and the Attorney General’s Office are warning South Dakota businesses and the public of telephone scams originating outside the United States and being placed through the South Dakota Relay Services.

These calls, originating from Nigeria, are placed over the internet utilizing Internet Protocol (IP) through the Telecommunication Relay System. IP Relay is available to anyone who has access to the internet. By using the IP Relay, these scam artists are contacting local businesses with the intent to buy items with stolen credit cards.

These scam artists pretend to be individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing so that they can use the service to their advantage and at no cost to them.

"We received complaints that fraudulent calls are being placed through the relay service," Grady Kickul, Director of Rehabilitation Services said. "Unfortunately, due to the FCC regulations the relay operator’s hands are tied and they must complete the call even if they suspect it is a scam."

Attorney General Larry Long alerted South Dakota businesses of this same telephone scam last year. At that time Long advised that scam artists were using stolen credit cards to purchase items through the use of relay operators. Once the cards were reported stolen, the local businesses were stuck with the charge back plus the loss of the merchandise that had already been shipped.

"If you receive a phone call via an IP Relay operator for a large quantity order, request the caller call back on the State Relay System," Long said. "Our State Relay System requires a TTY phone and the foreign callers do not have these phones nor will they pay for a long distance call."

To ensure that you do not become a victim of this scam be cautious of any relay phone call that might include the following:

  • The caller wants products fast ("can you ship it today?")   
  • Multiple units ordered and asked for in "pieces" (1000 t-shirts is "1000 pieces")   
  • Lack of knowledge of the product   
  • Lack of questions about the product   
  • Not concerned about price   
  • Poor grammar or spelling is used   
  • Uses American names in reverse (last name as first, first as last)   
  • Repeatedly calls via Relay to rush the order   
  • Refuses to wire money directly to you   
  • Often poses as a religious or charitable organization 

The South Dakota Telecommunication Relay Service is a service that provides equal telecommunication access to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing through a relay operator. The relay operator must be completely transparent and is forbidden by FCC regulation to interject their personal thoughts, opinions, or advice.


South Dakota businesses with questions or concerns about this scam should contact the Division of Consumer Protection at or 1-800-300-1986.