Year after year, there are promises of weight-loss cures in a bottle. Companies that sell these schemes are the modern age "snake oil" salesmen. They give promises of "Lose weight without changing your diet" or "Lose weight without exercise". Many times, they offer both. Millions of dollars from innocent people are spent every year. Do not waste your money! Do you need to lose weight? Do it the old-fashioned way... eat right and exercise!
Leo De Watts, 27, has come up with a new business in England called "air farming". He collects pure, unpolluted British air in bottles and ships them, mainly to wealthy Chinese customers. His website states that the air is "filtered organically by nature as it flows between the leaves of woodland trees" and is "lovingly caressed as it rolls over and between mineral-rich rock formations"... what a bunch of crock!
Since the air is so polluted in China, many who have money are desperate to do whatever they can. Watts charges over $100 a jar and has already made thousands of dollars since he began "air farming" this year! You can order fresh British air from Dorset, Wales, Wiltshire, Somerset, or Yorkshire for 80 pounds or roughly $113! No kidding! It's called Aethaer. Watts even has a Chinese New Year Special - 25% off a 15-jar gift set. How much? "Now only" 888 pounds or roughly $1250! But that is not all... the "price excludes shipping"! That's right, you have to pay extra for that. It's all legal! Are people being scammed when they know it's a scam? No, this is what happens when people have too much money!
A friend of mine received a call at his restaurant from Com-Ed, saying that he needed to pay his bill or the electricity would be turned off. The Com-Ed representative told my friend exactly what he owed and said that he was behind in his payments - which he was, by only a week or so. The friendly and professional voice reassured him that there was nothing to worry about as long as he sent a money order within a few hours.
My friend was very concerned,
since he had a lot to lose if the power was turned off. He sent his payment right away to the account number that was given him. But then he got a call later that day from the same people, claiming that they had never received the payment. My friend explained to the rep that he had sent the payment of over $1000. The rep said that the payment had not gone through, and told him to send it again. He did. And that is how he was robbed of over $2000!
It was all a scam! It hadn't been Com-Ed at all! This was a high-level scam that sounded like a genuine call from Com-Ed. The scammer told my friend the exact amount he owed. When my friend called the phone number back, it went through a series of options like a real Com-Ed call. The phone number started with 844, a toll-free area code linked to other scams. The number was traced to a hotel in California. That is where they had set up "shop". After a few days in one location, the scammers move to another, to avoid getting caught.
My friend called the police, but will he ever get his money back? Probably not. What should he have done to begin with? The same thing you need to do if you get a similar call... HANG UP!! DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY! DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR CREDIT CARD INFO! WAIT! Look up the number for Com-Ed in the directory or on Com-Ed's website, and call that number. This goes for the gas company, AT&T, Comcast, etc. Once you know that it was a scam, call the police (non-emergency line, not 911). If you are still unsure, call somebody you trust and they will get to the bottom of it. Above all, do not send any money... hang up!
Debbie Hill, a postal worker in Florence, South Carolina, has worked at the post office for over 29 years and has seen it all. So when one of her "stamps-only" customers, an elderly woman, started sending out packages to random locations several days in a row this December, Debbie was suspicious. Debbie contacted Thomas Gasser, a U.S. Postal Service inspector, who looked into it. He found that the addresses the elderly woman was sending the packages to were directly tied to a Jamaican lottery scam. With the help of the police, all the money that would have been lost was recovered and returned to the woman. How much? $45,000!
It was very fortunate that Debbie, who received a letter of commendation from the postmaster general, spotted the scam but how many letters and packages are not caught?! It is estimated that several thousands of people are scammed out of many millions of dollars every year. In 2014 alone, postal inspectors saved people a lot of money by seizing and destroying nearly two million letters and packages sent to lottery scammers. But too many get through the cracks.
What else can be done? If you receive a letter or phone call about winning a lottery, DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY! It is most likely a scam! Report it to the post office, FTC (Federal Trade Commission) or someone you know who can help determine if it is a scam! Many times an older son or daughter can be very helpful. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true... it probably is! The chances of your "winnings" being a scam is way over 99%!
If you are a concerned loved one, keep a lookout for "You're a Winner" letters or packages and for any odd behavior. Also ask about any odd phone calls that your loved one might have received. You could, potentially, be saving them a lot of money... and a lot of heartache!
A friend of mine was recently tricked in a computer scam, just like many people before him. A pop-up says that there is a virus attacking your computer and you need to take immediate action! Just press the help button or "stop the virus" button right away! Once you do, you open the floodgates of "germs" which enter your computer. It does the opposite of what it tells you. Once infested, it's a nightmare to try to fix. If this ever happens to you, DO NOT click anything! Don't be tricked into "taking immediate action!" Just calm down and call somebody you know.
The Click4Support button is another scam to "help you out". Do not tap on that button unless you are positive about the site you are on. Instead of causing havoc, these scammers pretend your computer is in need of repair or immediate attention, when in actuality it isn't. The scammers want you to pay them money to fix your computer, when there is no need of repair. In some cases, people pay hundreds of dollars for nothing.
Sometimes these scammers put you on a monthly plan that does nothing for you. Other times, small fees are removed from your bank account without your consent or knowledge. I recently saw a charge of $7.95 for Archives.com and when I looked further into it, I saw I'd been charged $7.95 every month for over a year! What did I get in return? Nothing. Check your bank accounts regularly for any suspicious behavior. Ask somebody you trust about it. You can always report any issues to the Federal Trade Commission. We live in a new age. Things are not as simple as they used to be. That is good in some cases, but seems bad in most cases!
In October, there was a reported sham taking place in Dane County, Wisconsin. Many people received a call from a shammer pretending to be from the sheriff's office. The caller tells the would-be victim that they have a warrant for their arrest or that they have dodged jury duty and they need to pay some money to make it right. The victims are told to send money to avoid arrest. Don't do it! It's a sham! The sheriff's department DOES NOT collect fees over the phone! Nor do any law enforcement agencies.
There is one nationwide scam that is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year. Bobby Harris, who worked at Arlington National Cemetery, was issued 2 fuel cards to maintain all the vehicles. He did that and more! He was caught using those cards for his own personal vehicles in excess of $5,000. He agreed to a plea deal in September, but lost his job and had to pay over $10,000 in fines and restitution. He also is on 2 years of supervised probation.
In the past 5 years, the Office of the Inspector General at GSA (General Services Administration) has recovered over $2 million in taxpayer money from gas scammers. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many government "card holders" steal small amounts which can't be detected and others manage to steal greater amounts without it being noticed. The loss is in the tens of millions and perhaps over $100 million in these gas scams alone! That is how much we as taxpayers have to pay these scammers. And how do we pay for those thefts? Just like the way we pay for all government waste... out of our wages and savings in the form of numerous taxes, fees, tolls, licenses, etc.
A senior and avid reader of The Town Sound was sorry to say that she had recently been scammed. My daughter and I sat down with her and heard the details. To protect her (the homeowner) I will not be using her name. In this article, the words "she" or "her" are referring to the homeowner.
A man rang this lady's door bell and she answered the door. He was nicely - but not overly - dressed and was very personable when he talked. He said he had a small crew working in the neighborhood and wondered if she needed any work done. She did not want them to have access inside the house BUT she thought of some work that needed to be done outside. (Someone local had come over last year and given her a price to fix the driveway. She mistakenly gave him a hefty deposit. He never did the work and only returned some of the money. He is not returning her calls, and it looks like she is out the rest - $500.)
Okay, back to the professional scammer. He looked at the work and told her how much it would cost. It was less than the local man quoted her, but not so low as to cause suspicion. She thought that it was a good price, but wasn't sure about the situation. To calm any fears she might have, the scammer said that she would not have to pay him anything until the work was finished - and done to her complete satisfaction. She could not resist this seemingly great offer. But she still tried to be cautious.
The scammer got her involved in helping him and his crew, and had her remove her diamond ring so it "wouldn't get ruined." The scammer knew where she had placed the ring, and distracted her with work-related stuff. When she next looked to check on the work progress, there was no one there. They were long gone. She looked for her ring, but it was gone too. The "crew" never intended on doing any work, only on scamming her. It could have been worse if she had been more trusting but, still, she got scammed. She called the police but there wasn't much that they could do at that point. The officer told her that his own grandmother had been scammed in a similar fashion.
Be aware of this scam! Do not let anyone do any work at your house unless you know them or you have contacted them first. Ask for their ID to verify information. If you have ANY suspicion at all, call someone you trust or call the police. The police know what questions to ask and they want to stop these scammers also!
And remember: Most scammers are pleasant individuals and nice talkers!
An elderly woman from Round Lake Park fell victim to a sweepstakes scam that left her with nothing in her bank account this August. It all started about a year ago when she received a seemingly non-threatening mailing offering her a chance at winning some big money in a sweepstakes contest. Why not try? What would it cost her? Just some time - which she had plenty of - filling out the entry form. Wrong! How about nearly $100,000! And this same scam could happen to you or someone you love.
The woman filled out the form last summer, mailed it, and did not hear anything until one day this past January. She didn't win the first prize worth over a million dollars, but the scammer told her that she had won second place, winning $550,000. It's more believable this way. And sure enough, she believed it. The scammer told her not to tell anyone because "her safety was a concern." Another mailing came shortly afterwards recommending a confidentiality agreement to protect her. All she would have to do is send a little money. These scammers do not care about anyone's safety but rather how much money they can steal from them.
Once the woman sent money, she was told to keep sending money for one reason or another. Not wanting to forfeit her initial investments and/or for fear of what her family might say, she continued until it was all gone! At the end, the scammer sent her a check and told her to keep some of it and send the rest back to them. But it was a bogus check and now she was out the money and had to pay additional bank fees. The chances of her getting any of her money back is close to zero, according to police. What can someone do to prevent this from happening? If you do fill out any sweepstakes forms, remember these two rules: #1 - Do not send any personal information other than your name, address, or phone number and #2 - NEVER send them any money! The best way to avoid all sweepstakes scams is by depositing all offers in the trash!
TRENTON, NJ - Telebrands Inc., an "As Seen on TV" company, which sells products like the Pocket Hose, Wow Cup, and PediPaws pet nail trimmer, was sued by New Jersey. The lawsuit states that the company scammed customers by aggressively pushing more expensive products. It also states that the company was shipping - and billing for - products not ordered, and using misleading advertising. Telebrands, not able to really counter any of those accusations, settled out of court. NJ Attorney General John Hoffman said, “No longer will consumers find themselves subjected to an onslaught of solicitations for products that they have no interest in." Now the company has to obey the rules... imagine that. Oh, and they have to pay the state of New Jersey $550,000! If you do buy any "As Seen on TV" products, remember that you're probably getting something half as good as what they're saying - at twice the cost!
DES MOINES, IOWA - Eddie Tipton, 52, was promoted to Information Security Director for the Multi-State Lottery Association in 2013. As an employee, he was prohibited from playing the lottery in Iowa. Rules are set up against people playing in their own company's raffles, sweepstakes, and other games. It's a conflict of interest. But that didn't stop Tipton. He rigged the winning numbers in the multi-state lottery called Hot Lotto, then deleted them so it couldn't be detected. Tipton bought the winning ticket, wearing a hood, and gave it to a friend. He told his friend to cash it without revealing Tipton's name. But Iowa demands the name of the original buyer of the ticket. Tipton was all set to collect $14 million, but he never did get his hands on the money. The only thing he collected was a pink slip and a guilty verdict for two counts of fraud.
It's a sad fact that tens of thousands of people are struggling to pay off their student loans to the government. Now, many scammers are taking advantage of the situation by tricking these prior students into paying a "fee" to reduce their student loan debt drastically, sometimes by half. These scammer sites say that they will renegotiate the loans if you will pay a one-time "renegotiating" fee, somewhat hefty, but much less than the loan. It sounds legit. It sounds wonderful. It sounds too good to be true. It is. It's a scam!
The government wants to go after these scammers, but it needs help. On June 22, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asked Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Bing, Yahoo, and other online companies to help them in this cause. Since the scammers use these sites to find potential victims, these online companies can target would-be scammers much better than the government could.
There is a student-loan renegotiation program out there (Department of Education renegotiation program), but there is no fee... it's actually free. If you see an offer to reduce your debt of any kind, communicate directly with the bank, organization or other company. Do not communicate with a potential scammer. Find out first if it is a scam, then proceed. If there is a "hurry and do it now" instruction, don't! By now, you should know not to believe everything you see online! If you're still unsure, talk to a knowledgeable friend or family member before you give any money away. Better to be safe than sorry!
It's bad enough when your tax dollars are used wastefully or corruptly; you feel a sense of helplessness. And I hate to say it, but I have come to expect a great deal of corruption in politics - you know, business as usual. But what if your charitable contributions were misused? Money you gave out of your own resources. Money you thought went to people in need, but instead went to people in greed. Fake charities are constantly springing up, but they usually operate on a small scale. However, the one I am about to expose was on a grand scale. This sham is of the worst sort! Read on.
On May 19, the Federal Trade Commission charged one organization with one of the largest acts of charity fraud in history. This organization split up into 4 separate "charities" so it could fly under the radar unnoticed for years. Since there are over 1 million charities registered in the U.S., it was easy. (The IRS approved over 94,000 new charities last year alone.) And the names of the 4 sham charities sounded very real: Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, the Children's Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society. Maybe you or someone you know gave to them.
This sham was run by James Reynolds Sr., his ex-wife, Rose Perkins, and his son, James Reynolds Jr. Nearly $200 million was raked in from donors who thought they gave to cancer research and/or patients. Less than 3% of the money actually went towards cancer causes! Some went towards running the sham, but the vast majority went to the three criminals and other key fraudsters. They bought fancy cars, houses... pretty much whatever they wanted, they got. They ate out in the best restaurants and went on grand vacations. They spent over $150 million in just a few years!
Experts agree that there are many worthy charities that are doing a lot of good, but they also warn that there are plenty of shams out there, ready to take your money. Many telemarketers can solicit donations on behalf of well-known charities and keep up to 85% for themselves legally! You have heard of the saying "buyer beware"... well now it's "donor beware"!