This morning we received email from firstname.lastname@example.org. The email’s title was “sent this to you using Google Maps: If your receied this letter, it means”. I know based on the misspelled words it more than likely was not sent from Google, but was it sent through their mail server, or just spoofed? It will be interesting to see how many others received similar spam emails from Google. The email only contained a spam link in it, but thinking it was from Google tricked me into opening the email and the fact that the link appeared to be to the website imageshack, we followed it to see what would happen (we have some serious antivirus, you can get it here) it went to a spam pharmacy website . Is there a flaw in Google maps that is being exploited? We will update you when we get additional information. If you have additional information, please feel free to leave it in our comments section.
Let’s scam the scammers, the same scammers that have scammed people out of over nine billion dollars in the last year? This is how we are going to scam the scammers. We have several email addresses that we are now replying to scams with. We are going to play along with their scams and see how long we can keep them going. If you would like to assist us, do the same and send us all their and your replies in the comment section so we can post them for everyone to read. We did this a few years ago and we really had some hilarious reading. I remember a friend of mine that had someone trying to pull an overpayment scam on him for a vacation rental. He kept giving the scammer reasons why he couldn’t rent out his rental after he received the cashiers check (it was fake check) for the rent. The scammer went to extreme lengths to try and convince him that his client didn’t mind that they would have to use a bucket on the porch as a toilet for their week stay since the water was shut off due to repairs. There were probably ten email exchanges before the scammer gave up, but it was funny. Think you can come up with funnier email exchanges? Give it a try.
A reports that shows 419 theft statistics for 2009 shows that the 419 Advanced Fee Fraud resulted in losses of over 9 Billion Dollars in 2009 alone. Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations put together the report and they say that the number is double what is was the previous year. So what is fueling the increase? Well it is being fueled by all the new email users from around the world that are new to the internet, like in countries like China. You can read the entire 225 page report here.
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his office is investigating 22 popular online businesses that deceptively link unsuspecting consumers to fee-based membership programs that charge unauthorized fees under the guise of discount offers. His office has also reached an agreement with online movie ticket retailer Fandango to end similar practices.
Cuomo’s investigation has found that when consumers shop online from familiar retailers, they are often presented with a discount or cash-back incentive offer as they complete their purchase. When consumers click on the discount or incentive banner, they are unknowingly directed to a membership program seller’s Web page that is separate from the online retailer’s site. The consumer is then instructed through large, colorful print and voice prompts to accept the discount or incentive. Information about joining the membership program and its ramifications, including the fact that the consumer is agreeing to transfer his or her credit or debit card account information, is buried in fine print and cluttered text. Small and recurring charges then begin to appear on consumers’ credit or debit card bills from unfamiliar companies. Because of the low dollar amount, the charges may go unnoticed for some time.
“This online scheme has impacted the finances and tried the patience of tens of millions of consumers nationwide. Well-known companies are tricking customers into accepting offers from third party vendors, which then siphon money from consumers’ accounts,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “I commend Fandango for doing the right thing by ending the practice of sharing consumers’ financial information with these discount club sellers. I expect the other businesses to follow Fandango’s lead and adopt these reforms to protect consumers who shop online.”
Cuomo has sent subpoenas to 22 well-known merchants that have deals with the three major companies that offer these discount programs: Webloyalty, Affinion/Trilegiant and Vertrue. The subpoenas seek information about retailers’ practices of sharing consumers’ account information with membership program companies; their knowledge of any deceptive solicitations; and compensation from the membership companies. The merchants being investigated include: Barnes & Noble, Orbitz.com, Buy.com, Ticketmaster.com, MovieTickets.com, FTD.com, Shutterfly.com, 1-800Flowers.com, Avon.com, Budget, Staples.com, Priceline.com, GMAC Mortgage, Classmates.com, Travelocity, Vistaprint, Intelius, Hotwire.com, Expedia/Hotels.com, Columbia House, Pizza Hut and Gamestop/EB Games.
Membership program companies enter into highly lucrative deals with the retailers and banks, which bring in millions of dollars in revenue when their customers click on deceptive incentives or become unknowingly enrolled. The three program sellers being investigated bring in revenues of more than $1 billion per year, much of which is amassed through fraud.
The scheme also takes place via postal mail: membership program sellers mail checks to consumers accompanied by solicitations branded with the name of the business or bank with which the consumer has transacted. Consumers frequently do not realize that by cashing these checks, they are enrolling in a membership program with a monthly fee because the solicitations often create the false impression that consumers are being provided with the check as a rebate or reward for their past business. The fact that consumers are enrolling in a fee-based program for which they will incur monthly charges is only inconspicuously disclosed above the endorsement line on the check.
The Attorney General’s Office has received numerous complaints from New Yorkers who have incurred unauthorized charges under these circumstances. Many consumers have reported that the companies offering membership programs make it difficult for consumers to cancel memberships and obtain full refunds of the unauthorized charges. At least one membership program company tries to limit refunds to a single month’s charges, even if a consumer has been subjected to months’ or even years’ worth of unauthorized charges.
Recently, Attorney General Cuomo’s Office intervened in a class-action lawsuit against Webloyalty to ensure that a settlement included full refunds to eligible customers who were scammed. Prior to the Attorney General’s intervention, the settlement limited refunds to only two months.
As part of an agreement with Attorney General Cuomo’s Office, online movie ticket retailer Fandango has agreed to permanently end the practice of sharing customers’ credit and debit card information to discount program sellers. It will also implement reforms to protect online shoppers from being deceived by discount and cash-back advertisements that appear on the company’s Web site. Fandango will suspend contracts with any discount program sellers while it implements these changes, and the company will pay $400,000 into a consumer redress fund. Fandango will also adopt the following reforms:
- Review and approve all Fandango incentive offers made in connection with online purchases and require any contracted discount club seller to provide the numbers of New York customers enrolled and complaints received from those customers
- Explicitly warn consumers that the incentive is offered for joining a separate company’s membership club
- Explicitly notify consumers when they are redirected to a discount club seller’s site that they are leaving Fandango’s Web site
- Ensure that all cash-back or rebate offers made by contracted membership club sellers comply with New York state rebate laws by providing redemption forms and information at the time of the offer
Stacey Olliff, Senior Vice President for Legal and Business Affairs for Fandango said, “Fandango is pleased to play a leadership role with the New York Attorney General to promote responsible marketing practices for the e-commerce industry related to online membership programs. We share the desire of Attorney General Cuomo to ensure that all consumers, and in particular Fandango customers, are fully informed and supported in their evaluation of and enrollment in online membership programs.”
Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said, “I applaud Attorney General Cuomo and his investigators for holding e-commerce companies accountable for their conduct. Tricking online shoppers into signing up for worthless membership clubs is not right, and it is not ethical. With my Committee’s investigation in Washington and Attorney General Cuomo’s settlement, I hope that this type of Internet scam will soon be a thing of the past. I am pleased that our efforts are improving the consumer shopping experience on the Internet, but there is more work to be done to combat the misleading tactics companies are using online – and I have every intention of making sure further changes are made moving forward.”
Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO from the Better Business Bureau of Metro NY said, “We applaud Attorney General Cuomo’s proactive steps to protect consumers. We stand behind efforts that improve the consumer and business relationship through transparency and disclosure. Consumer protections on the Internet, where identity theft and fraud has dramatically increased over the past two decades are critical. Building trust in the marketplace is key and the Attorney General’s investigation into these programs is a move in the right direction and we look forward to continuing our partnership with his office.”
University of Minnesota Law Professor Prentiss Cox said, “Retailers that sell their customers’ account information so that the customer can be charged for a membership club by stealth should know that they are participating in a marketplace scam. Data from public enforcement actions over the last ten years and from the recent U.S. Senate Commerce Committee investigation suggest that the number of consumers who know they are club members and know they are paying for this purported privilege range between about 0 percent and 5 percent. Every retailer and bank should be held responsible for selling their customers’ account information to other companies, especially when the deceptive results of this arrangement are so obvious.”
Consumers can minimize the chances of being victimized by carefully reading the fine print in connection with any discount or service offers, particularly when shopping online. Consumers also should not cash any unsolicited checks that they receive in the mail without reading any fine print that appears on the front or back of the check, as well as any materials that accompany the check. The Attorney General urges consumers to carefully review credit and debit account statements each month. Consumers who discover unauthorized charges on a credit or debit card account are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-771-7755 or visit www.ag.ny.gov.
The investigation is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Schallop, Special Counsel Carolyn Fast, Assistant Attorneys General Jennifer Huber, Brian Montgomery and Harkiranjit Chahal of the Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection under the supervision of Bureau Chief Joy Feigenbaum
Did you get this Returned Wal-mart Card Email? If so you had better read this first. Seriously, it is a scam. We have gotten several fraud reports, and here is a copy of the email that is being circulated.
We have been notified that your Wal-Mart card has been returned to our offices.
There must be an address discrepancy in the information we have on file.
Please go to the link and verify that we have your correct address.
Once you’ve confirmed, we expect your card to be sent out shortly.
Want to be removed?
Carlos Pellegrini 587
Buenos Aires 1009ABK, Argentina
Is RadioRNR also known as Rawk Media Network a scam? Well there have been several reports that it is a scam. Conflict in The Sky has a great blog post about it here. But the alleged scam targets recording artists by offering to add their songs to a compilation CD. But requires a $295 fee. Several musicians have paid the fee and never had their music released on a compilation CD to date. The solicitation is done via email and can be very convincing. Be careful if doing business with RadioRNR.
Is This A Scam? Here is a video which talks about scams. Take a moment to watch this video and make sure to share it with your friends because it is usually our friends or family members who get scammed.
Is this a scam quick checklist.
IF YOU ANSWER “YES” TO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS, YOU MAY BE GETTING SCAMMED!
– Are you getting money for assisting someone with depositing money?
– Does the email mention a sum of money with a lot of zeros?
– Are you required to transfer money via Western Union due to overpayment?
– Are you required to pay a deposit prior to viewing the inside of a rental property?
– Are you required to send personal information to a company which should already have that information?
– Did you win a lotto which you don’t remember entering?
– Are you validating an email account by supplying your email password due to an email request?
More will be added soon.
Here is a report about a Hazel Peppergood scam reported to use from a consumer. This is what the consumer had to say:
paid Hazel Peppergood $59.95 for her report on envelope stuffing programs, she sent me her report and included 3 mailing programs that she recommended. I sent $79.00 to her top pick-Worldwide Publications. When I received from Worldwide Publications it said I had to pay for the names on labels, envelopes and the 2 page circulars, which was very expensive. I then emailed Hazel Peppergood that I was mislead and I couldn’t afford that. She emailed me back saying go ahead and said alot of other people were very happy with it. She also said something I was under contract. The next day I got on my email and noticed that every email that I had sent and every email that she had sent to me were gone. Hazel Peppergood had hacked into my email and deleted them all. Isn’t this illegal!
2009 brought a lot of ponzi schemes to an end. Often people ask ” What is a Ponzi scheme? ” Well, Ponzi schemes, were named for the infamous swindler Charles Ponzi. Charles Ponzi was an Italian immigrant who concocted the scheme in 1919. It involved bogus investments in postal currency. He ripped off thousands of people out of over $10 million, and ended up going to jail for wire fraud and was deported in 1934. Ponzi schemes are extremely simple: Investors are attracted by promises of high profits and are then paid with money from new investors. The scammers skim off the top. Some of the investments are partially legitimate but most are completely fictional. There’s often no reserve fund for lean times, or for when many investors start demanding their money at once, which is why in 2009 a large number of them failed.