A deaf and dumb scam

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Sue McConnell, a crack sleuth at the Cleveland Better Business Bureau, figured she'd seen every low-rent scam imaginable. But she never thought she'd see the day when deaf people were doing the scheming. Lester Sukenik, who owns Colony Lumber in Painesville, got a call from a service for the speech and hearing impaired. An operator talked while the man on the other end of the line typed what he wanted her to say. The man wanted to order $1,500 in lumber on a credit card and have it picked up and shipped to Ghana, a country whose construction industry is rivaled only by a bunch of guys sending e-mails asking you to wire them a million bucks. "It was just suspicious from the beginning," says Sukenik. Two days later he got another call, this time from a man with a heavy Middle-Eastern accent, wanting to know if the deal was on. Sukenik called the Better Business Bureau instead. He later found out that the man was using a stolen credit card. McConnell says that, although the deaf thing may be a creative new angle, it's just another play on an age old scam. "Maybe they feel someone would be compassionate," she says. "They might get some sympathy factor out of somebody." --Jared Klaus

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