Scam of the day – June 28, 2017 – FTC paying victims of timeshare resale scam

Timeshares are a legitimate vacation option for many people, but resales have sometimes been difficult for timeshare owners and scammers have been  preying upon timeshare owners trying to sell their interests with promises of buyers that never materialize after charging the timeshare owners upfront fees of sometimes thousands of dollars.

The FTC took action recently against one of these timeshare resale scammers, Information Management Forum, Inc which did business as Vacation Property Marketing as well as its owner Edward Lee Windsor.  In this scam, victims were lured by telemarketing calls into paying registration fees for a service that the scammers promised would provide renters or buyers for the victims’ timeshare units.  Unfortunately, it was all a scam.  Fortunately, the FTC was able to recover funds that are now being returned to the victims of this particular timeshare scam.

TIP

If you were a victim of this particular scam, go to the top of the page and click on “FTC Scam Refunds” for more specific information about the refund program.

As for anyone who is considering selling their timeshare unit, always check out the legitimacy of anyone proposing to help you sell your timeshare.  You can check with your state’s attorney general at and your local consumer protection agencies.  Make sure you have a lawyer review any contract before you sign it and it is a good idea not to pay in advance for the services of someone purporting to assist you in reselling your timeshare unit.

Scam of the day – October 16, 2016 – FTC shuts down telemarketing scam

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a temporary restraining order has been issued by a judge in the Federal District Court for Arizona temporarily shutting down the operation of a telemarketing scam in which three people, utilizing numerous corporations,  lured people into investing thousands of dollars in purported  e-commerce websites.  The scammers targeted older people and veterans from whom they stole millions of dollars with promises of huge profits and fraudulent misrepresentations that the investments were “risk free” and totally guaranteed,   The scammers charged by the FTC are Susan Rodriguez, Matthew Rodriguez and William “Matt” Whitley who did business under the names “Titan Income, ” “Wyze Money,” “Prime Cash,” and “Building Money.”  As alleged by the FTC, the entire operation was a scam and the victims received neither profits nor their investments back when they requested refunds.  The next step in the case against these defendants will be a hearing to replace the temporary restraining order with a more permanent preliminary injunction to stay in affect during the litigation.

Many of the victims of this scam were on the Do Not Call List, which should have been an initial indication to the victims that the “business opportunity” was a scam because calling them to offer a business opportunity was already a violation of the law.

TIPS

Never invest in anything until you have had a chance to do diligent research into the particular investment.  You should be particularly wary of investment “opportunities” that come your way through unsolicited telemarketers.  Also, the federal Business Opportunity Rule, which was ignored by  the defendants in this case, requires that before you invest in any business opportunity you are provided with a one-page disclosure that provides important facts about the business.  In addition  if, as in this case, you are told how much money you can make, you are required to be given another document with greater details.  For more information about the Business Opportunity Rule, the disclosures you should receive and claims that may not be made by people soliciting investments you can go to this link from the FTC.   https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0172-bogus-business-opportunities

Scam of the day – September 19, 2015 – Syrian refugee charity scams

The civil war in Syria has been going on for almost five years and during that time millions of people have been displaced with many fleeing the conflict to other countries.    The needs of these people for basic human necessities are great.  Mankind indeed can be quite kind and giving at times such as this when our fellow man is in need and the generosity of people here in the United States and around the world is a wonderful thing.  However, scammers are always present at times like this, eager to take your charitable impulse and turn it into an opportunity to steal money you intend to help those in need.  While there are many legitimate charities working hard to help these people, many scammers are setting up phony charities or using the names of legitimate charities to steal charitable donations that should be going to help our fellow man.  In addition, there are some “legitimate” charities that spend an inordinate amount of what they collect in donations on their own salaries and administrative costs rather than use the funds to meet the needs of the people the particular charity is supposed to be helping.

TIPS

Be very wary of telemarketers seeking charitable contributions.   Whenever you receive a telephone call that purports to be from a charity, you can never be sure that the caller is legitimate.  In addition, even if the caller is a legitimate solicitor on behalf of a charity, they work on commission and some of what you donate will be going to the telemarketer.  If a telemarketer arouses your interest in a particular charity, ask the telemarketer to send you written information that you can review before making a contribution directly to the charity that you know will go entirely to the charity.

As for email and text message solicitations from charities, be particularly careful because not only can you not be sure if they are legitimate or not, they may be even worse than that.  The email or text message may contain a link or attachment that has malware that can steal the information from your computer or smartphone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

Charitynavigator.org is a great resource.  It is a free website at which you can look up any charity to which you may be considering making a donation.  Not only will Charitynavigator.org tell you whether or not the charity is a scam or not, it also will tell you how much of the money given to the charity goes toward its charitable works and how much it pays in salary and administrative costs.

Some of the well established and highly rated charities presently working on the Syrian relief effort are the American Refugee Committee, the Convoy of Hope, GlobalGiving, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran World Relief, Medical Teams International, Mercy Corps and Save the Children.   You can get more information about these charities at Charitynavigator.org as well as find links to these and other good charities themselves where you can make a donation.

Scam of the day – April 6, 2014 – FTC shuts down telemarketing scam

The FTC has obtained injunctions closing down a major telemarketing scam that stole more than twenty million dollars from senior citizens.    The telemarketing used promises of various services including, ironically, fraud protection.  Other services being sold were legal services and prescription drugs.  In addition, in other instances, the scammers impersonated government officials and bank employees.  In those calls, the scammers tricked their victims into providing their bank account information which was then used by the scammers to access the victims’ bank accounts and steal their money.  The primary defendant is Ari Tietolman and various companies he operated including First Consumers, LLC, Standard American Marketing, Inc. and PowerPlay Industries, LLC, Patient Assistance Plus, Legal Eye and Fraud Watch.

TIPS

You can never be sure of who is calling you on the phone so you should never give personal information over the phone to anyone whom you have not called.  Even if your Caller ID appears to show that the caller is who he says he is, you cannot trust your Caller ID because it can be manipulated through a technique called spoofing to make it appear as if the call is legitimate when it is not.  If you are interested in a service or product about which you are informed in a telemarketing call, you should ask them to send you written material and then investigate the company and the product or service before considering committing.   If a call asking for personal information appears to you to possibly be legitimate, you should still not provide the information over the phone to the caller, but rather hang up and call the real company with which you do business to see if the original call was a scam.