'Housewarming gift' for Oklahoma residents turns out to be a scam

MOORE, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma man has a warning about something showing up in many mailboxes lately. It appears to be an offer for a free gift to those who just moved into the neighborhood, but it’s really more of a trick instead. 

People living in a new neighborhood in Moore recently received a small postcard welcoming them into the neighborhood, saying to call a number and use a code to receive a housewarming gift – but it was too good to be true.

“I first Googled the number. And the number was actually associated with a news article from 2016 saying that it was a scam,” said Skyler Tuter, who received the note.  

Tuter decided to give the number a call to make sure.  

“I called the number just out of morbid curiosity, and it rerouted – I saw it on my phone and rerouted away from the 405 number that it gave to a different area code and a person that was different than the name answered. And so, it very much seemed more of a call center or some sort of sale,” said Tuter.

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Tuter said he received the letter in the mail which read, “Welcome to the neighborhood. I have been unable to reach you by phone to present you with a housewarming gift. Please give me a call at your earliest convenience. If you are unable to reach me, leave your name and phone number and I will return your call. Ask for Michelle.”

Image courtesy: Skyler Tuter

Tuter also happens to be a senior cybersecurity consultant for Trusted Security and told News 4 this is a long-standing data collection tactic.

He said by calling the number and using the code, you give consent for companies to start collecting data about you.

“The code is actually an authorization for that person saying you can collect my data without the person knowing that that’s what it is. You might have seen or heard of a scam phone calls where they say it’s an automated voice message and it just says ‘Hello, hello.’ And that person, it’s ads trying to get the victim to give verbal cues to say yes or no. And that can legally be an authorization to collect data off of you,” said Tuter.  

Kitt Letcher with Oklahoma’s Better Business Bureau said the scam is more common than you think. 

“It was like, ‘here’s a housewarming gift for you since you’re moving into a new home’ – that lingo is very familiar and something that we have definitely seen before,” said Kitt Letcher, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central Oklahoma.

Tuter said several people in his neighborhood and in surrounding neighborhoods have received the same note.

“I immediately posted on our Nextdoor Neighborhood app and got a ton of responses saying that a bunch of people in other neighborhoods as well were getting things like this. And luckily, a lot of them said they were throwing it away and the rest of them were just, you know, thankful that somebody called it out,” said Tuter.

So, as the old adage says, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

The BBB Serving Central Oklahoma said you can always check for a scam or report a scam on their website here.  

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