The Dirty Dozen: "Classic" Scams and Pitches
It’s Your Lucky Day! You Won the Foreign Lottery!
Lotteries in most countries are illegal unless conducted by a governmental entity or specific, exempt licensed charitable organization. It's against the law for a U.S. citizen to play a foreign lottery from within the United States, just as it is illegal for anyone living in another country to play a U.S. lottery unless they are visiting in the United States.
Foreign lottery scams typically notify their victims that they have won a prize, which can be claimed only after the victim pays some transfer fees or taxes, or provides some proof of identity or details of bank accounts or credit cards.
Some scammers even send a real-looking check as part of the "winnings," which the victim is told to deposit and return some amount to cover fees and taxes associated with winning the lottery prize.
No legitimate lottery will EVER send winnings and ask someone to send part of it back in fees. Victims who follow these bogus instructions lose twice: the winning “check” eventually proves to be a fake even if it doesn't bounce right away, and the portion of their "winnings' that they forwarded overseas ends up being taken from their own bank account.
Before responding to an "It's Your Lucky Day" appeal, remember:
If you receive a notice from what seems to be an illegal lottery, you may forward a copy to your local Post Office to possibly help prevent others from receiving the same scam.
Easy, Fast Weight Loss! Burn Fat -- While You Sleep!
*** Burn 3 to 15 Pounds of FAT While You Sleep! *** 100% Guaranteed!
Simply send your FULL name and a written request for information. What are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose except fat!!
Scams promising easy and fast weight loss have been around since at least the early 1900s. Not only does nobody lose as much weight or as easily as was promised, but many people never receive the ordered items, or keep receiving them –with invoices – long after they have stopped wanting the product. Think twice before wasting your money or taking a financial leap of faith on any of these false claims:
Free Cash Grants! Never Repay!
You Can Get The Money You Need...
These bogus offers have been around forever in one form or another. What you get for your $49.99 or $32.95 is a list of foundations, which you could get free from any public library.
However, these foundations do not "give money away." They make grants, usually to non-profit organizations, who write detailed plans that demonstrate how the funds will be used to advance whatever causes a particular foundation is interested in.
Are there some foundations that give money to individuals to help them start businesses, go to college or become a beautician? Maybe there are a few, but you’ll need to weed them out from hundreds of other foundations. And, you can be pretty certain that the demand far outpaces the supply.
Flip real estate for easy profits. Get a high-paying job. Start a successful online business. Find the best investments. Hundreds of seminars are offered every day across the country, promising fulfillment, success and wealth.
In many cases, the seminar will be mostly hype and selling the dream of success, rather than providing actual content to help you achieve success. Often, free or low-cost seminars are just teasers for much more expensive and extensive courses or seminars.
Many of these "seminars" are very controlled sales pitches. They look great, exciting and helpful on the surface, but are designed to extract money from participants before they walk out the door.
Some seminars give out "applications" to make participants think the seminar and training are very exclusive. However, in many cases, the application is really a cleverly disguised CONTRACT. Be sure to read everything before you sign, and don't provide a social security number, bank account number or credit card number on any form given to you at a "seminar." If you're pressured to provide information, this is a sign to cut the interaction short. It would be wise to leave. Beware if a seminar has an finance company on hand to give audience members instant financing. This can be used to entice participants to purchase high-priced materials or courses. The credit provided is often carries a high interest rate. But for many participants, the scam occurs after they purchase the extensive training, coaching, and matierals from one of these seminars. They never live up to the grand promises, and refunds are either impossible or nearly impossible to obtain.
Beware if a seminar has an finance company on hand to give audience members instant financing. This can be used to entice participants to purchase high-priced materials or courses. The credit provided is often carries a high interest rate.
But for many participants, the scam occurs after they purchase the extensive training, coaching, and matierals from one of these seminars. They never live up to the grand promises, and refunds are either impossible or nearly impossible to obtain.
Make Big $$ Working from Home!
There are far more people trying to make money from you than those who want to help you make a living. Fraudulent promoters use the classifieds, email, radio, and the Internet to tout all kinds of work-at-home offers, from medical billing and envelope stuffing to assembly and craft work.
Too often, these ads make promises about earnings, merchandise, or marketability that sound great, but aren’t truthful.
Dozens of scams are built around this theme, but most of them come down to one thing: you spend your own money to pay someone else; not the other way around. By responding to “work at home” offers, it is virtually certain that you will lose money by paying for a "kit" or software that supposedly trains you make big money at home.
A popular scheme involves sending out bills for doctors. Some companies have sold software packages for $3,000 while others are content to get $300 or even $30. They all do the same thing: nothing.
If you do follow up on a work-at-home offer, here are some questions to ask:
The answers to these questions may help you determine whether a work-at-home program is appropriate for you, and whether it’s legit.
THIS JUST IN: Fake News Site Promotes the Latest Scam!
Most people count on the news for accurate and truthful reporting. Scam artists are now exploiting the public’s trust in news organizations by setting up fake news websites to peddle their wares. The fake sites, which usually display logos of legitimate news organizations, promote everything from bogus weight loss products to work-at-home opportunities, anti-aging products and debt reduction plans.
When the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) examined “news” sites promoting acai berry products for weight loss, they found that nearly everything about these sites was fake. The websites – owned by marketers – were simply a tool to entice consumers to click on links to the sellers' sites to buy acai berry supplements. Sellers paid the marketers a commission based on the number of consumers they lured to their sites. There was no reporter, no “medical breakthrough,” dramatic weight loss, or satisfied consumers who left comments, There was no affiliation with a reputable news source. As a rule, legitimate news organizations do not endorse products.
In 2011, the FTC filed a complaint jointly with the State of Connecticut, seeking to permanently stop a Connecticut-based operation that allegedly used fake news websites to promote their products, made deceptive weight-loss claims, and told consumers they could receive free trials of acai berry and "colon cleanse" products, and only have to pay the nominal cost of shipping and handling. Many consumers paid $79.99 for the trial, and for recurring monthly shipments of products that were hard to cancel. The parties have agreed to a court order temporarily halting the illegal conduct of LeanSpa LLC and two other companies.
Enhance your love life / stamina / brain power!
Promises for a quick cure or solution for a medical problem may be hard to resist — but supplements claiming to cure impotency, treat Alzheimer's disease, or prevent severe memory loss aren't proven. Besides cheating you out of your money, they also may hurt your health.
Hundreds of unknown, untested nutritional aids are marketed every day. But while they might seem similar to drugs, and some even have drug-like effects, supplements don't undergo FDA review for safety and effectiveness; many aren’t tested for quality and consistency. Some have been found to be tainted. By law, diet supplements cannot be promoted for the treatment of a disease because they aren't proven to be safe and effective.
Even “all natural” remedies with a long history of use aren't guaranteed to be safe. Some substances that have raised safety concerns include:
Comfrey contains certain alkaloids that can cause serious liver damage, and aristolochia can cause kidney failure. Some consumers have had difficulty getting shipments of nutritionals to stop once they start.
For a list of the dietary supplement ingredients for which the FDA has issued alerts, visit www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/Alerts/default.htm.
90-Day Free Golf Club Test!
The names keep changing but the pitch is always the same -- try out a brand-new set of high-tech golf clubs free for 90 days. All you have to do is put the full price of the clubs on your credit card as a "deposit." Then, if at the end of the 90 days if you're not completely satisfied, you return the clubs, get your money back and owe nothing.
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Big senior discounts on prescription drugs!
Have you gotten spam email claiming that free or low-cost prescription drugs “are just a phone call away”? Have you visited a website offering to help you get "free" prescription drugs? If so, you may be looking at a scam.
Approximately one in three searches for online drug information redirects to websites that illegally sell prescription drugs.
Hackers insert code into legitimate websites, such as those from university or government sources. Once a person conducting the online search clicks on the link, they unknowingly visit a series of websites leading to a fake pharmacy.
What’s more, drugs purchased on these sites are dangerous. Independent testing has revealed that such products often include the active ingredient, but in incorrect and potentially dangerous dosages.
Avoid being led astray when purchasing medications online by purchasing only from pharmacy websites you know, and that are accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
Steer clear of any company that charges for information on free or low-cost prescription drug programs. The information is free — and publicly available — from your physician, pharmacists, and the government.
A “one stop” website, www.helpingpatients.org, provides information on patient assistance programs for consumers who don’t have prescription drug coverage.
Additionally, www.accesstobenefits.org offers information on many programs to help seniors and people with disabilities reduce prescription drug costs. Finally, you can access the federal government’s Medicare information at www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
If a deal seems too good to be true, that's because it’s usually not true.
Postcards, faxes, and emails that offer free air travel and hotel getaways have lured and stranded hundreds of people across the country in the past year alone.
Some of these "free travel" promotions include images of airplanes and feature in large type the names and identifiable logos of major airlines, yet they are from companies that have no relationship to the airlines.
Consumers are told they've been “selected” to receive some combination of air travel and hotel package for attending a unique, money-saving travel club seminar.
Persons who attend the seminars find they're subjected to a hard-sell pitch for pricey travel clubs costing thousands of dollars, and that if and when they finally receive their air travel voucher, they find out that they are subject to taxes and fees of $100 per person or more.
In addition, many travel dates were blocked, and travel “restrictions” included a requirement to fly out on a Monday or Tuesday and return that Thursday. Many persons reported that they never received their travel voucheers, and persons who tried to cancel their agreement found it difficult to accomplish.
Few, if any individuals who got involved in one of these offers report being satisfied with the experience.
You've won $2.5 million in the International Sweepstakes!
Nearly half of all American adults enter sweepstakes each year, mostly contests run by reputable marketers and non-profit organizations to promote their products and services. But some con artists also devise schemes that look like legitimate sweepstakes, and consumers regularly lose thousands of dollars to these unscrupulous promoters.
A sweepstakes is a promotion in which prizes are awarded to participating consumers by chance, with no purchase or entry fee required to win, and no fees or taxes to be paid before receiving the prize. Two common types of sweepstakes scams are:
1. A "winning" notification is sent from a real business, but the prize is either fake, or actually an offer for a multi-level marketing scheme, timeshare, travel club, or something similar.
2. A notice is sent by a scammer who is unaffiliated with any real organization. Claiming to represent a legitimate organization such as a national bank or the non-existent “National Sweepstakes Bureau,” they offer assurances that the sweepstakes is safe and legitimate. In truth, there are no prizes, it’s just a ploy to get your money.
Both scams require consumers to send or provide funds to claim a prize they’ve won. But, as many learn the hard way, those “free” prizes never materialize. If you’re tempted by a letter, email or telephone call telling you that you’ve been chosen to receive a great prize:
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Some warnings of a credit card / loan scam:
Just because you’ve received a slick promotion or an ad, don’t assume it’s a good deal — or even legitimate. It’s important to check out any potential lenders with the Department of Banking.