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I got contacted by someone on Telegram with the user name "." with the following message:

I am a citizen of Uzbekistan, my child is sick with gout, so can you put 10 dollars on my card

Followed by a 16 digit number 86000609... (seems to be a credit card number).

The user keeps sending me messages and stickers.

I don't even know how I could put money on a credit card.

Is that a known type of scam?

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5 Answers 5

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Well, this is a pretty old type of fraud. Usually, registered funds are collected to help children, and even they are often questionable. Don't fall for something like this.

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    Definitely old. In the pre-Internet age these solicitations were sent out on postcards. Once email became a thing, they were some of the earliest spams.
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 15:23
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    My work has a letter from the 1930s with this exact scam on it signed "Pablo Picasso."
    – Yorik
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 18:40
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I don't even know how I could put money on a credit card.

This is possible. There are types of prepaid cards by major credit card companies that can be replenished and can be used like credit cards, though they are much closer to being debit cards. You can find examples of them by in a search engine, searching for prepaid credit cards.

Is that a known type of scam?

This is a standard way that scams or phishing attempts start. By using a clearly obvious scam it filters out a lot of people who will not fall for it.

If you were to express interest in helping you will then be guided through a series of steps that would result in you being fleeced for far more than $10 or you will be asked to click on a link that will attempt to compromise your device.

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  • I know about prepaid cards that can be upped, but the ones I saw require to go either through a portal where you use another card, or through an IBAN, or through some phone transaction. I have no idea how I would put money on a card by just having its number (as a generic person)
    – WoJ
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 12:46
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    In some countries and/or card networks, sending money to a card number is, in fact, the most common way of transferring money. For example, I think I encountered it a few years ago in Ukraine, and people were confused when I asked for an account number. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were indeed common in Uzbekistan, too.
    – Chortos-2
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 15:09
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    @WoJ From your local Internet/app banking. I don’t know the technical details, but I assume that either a countrywide system maps card numbers to accounts or the transfer actually goes via Visa/Mastercard. It seems that in Ukraine, people see their “card” as the main thing they have at a bank, rather than an “account”, and make no distinction between these concepts, so “Does the money go from your card or from your account?” becomes a meaningless question: e. g. the fees here are given for “card” rather than “account” types.
    – Chortos-2
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 22:25
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    You can (also) transfer money from card to card. Visa and MasterCard have services for this, and some banks have public Web services for this. Services like Wise let you mix and match methods (e. g. UK/EU fast payment to Ukraine card) using country-specific networks bridged by the service provider.
    – Chortos-2
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 22:31
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    And then some places let you specify the recipient by their phone number, using country-wide (not to mention bank-internal) databases to look them up. I think some of these additional methods are slowly spreading. I’m in the EU, so we usually send to IBAN, but my country recently (?) introduced a send-to-phone-number system (which I haven’t seen anyone use yet). It’s opt-in, though, so you can only send to someone who’s explicitly added their phone number to the country’s payment exchange. I’m thinking card numbers elsewhere might be the same but without the opt-in.
    – Chortos-2
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 22:42
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Basic principle: if you have to ask, it's probably a scam. And there are very few which are genuinely new; they just get decorated differently as communications and technology evolve.

In this case, if you respond I bet the next request will be $50 to see a doctor, then $100 for the special medicines needed, then $1000 because the kid is in the hospital, then $5000 for lifesaving treatment... with heavy guilt tripping attempts if you ever so much as hesitate.

"It's only $10"... and showing that you are a sucker.

If you want to support strangers there are huge numbers of legitimate aid organizations. Pick one or more.

(Afterthought: this may also be someone who just wants to annoy the card's actual owner. Or the card may not exist and the next suggestion will be crypto, or through some mechanism that looks legit but steals your credentials, or... There are many directions this could go; we can't tell what they had planned.)

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  • Key takeaway: "If you want to support strangers there are huge numbers of legitimate aid organizations. Pick one or more." OTOH, under the concept that you can't out give God, feel free to give $10 then block the number...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 14:29
  • @FreeMan No. Don't use God as an excuse to support ungodly people. These people you want to give money to are using that "investment" to steal thousands of dollars from unsuspecting victims.
    – jpaugh
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 19:28
  • That's their problem, @jpaugh, not mine.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 19:58
  • @FreeMan: I question your judgement but respect your determination to risk it
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 20:07
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I wouldn't really call that a "scam", I would call it an electronic version of good, old begging. Just that the beggar in this case is probably a professional who obtained a list of Telegram addresses and now spams everyone on them with a bot.

What the beggar is probably going to do if someone actually gives them money is to see how much more money they can get out of them. They will then contact the donor with further sob stories asking for larger and larger financial favors.

By the way: gout is a disease that usually only affects older people. So "my child is sick with gout" isn't a very believable story. Which is a hint that they are trying to fish for particularly gullible marks.

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8600 is the bank prefix of UzCard. UzCard accounts can receive payments from third parties. So that bit tallies.

As another poster says they may just be straight out begging for money (with a dubious excuse), rather than a more elaborate scam. There may also be some detail of the UzCard system that turns this into a bigger scam - we wouldn't know without local knowledge.

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