Scam of the day – May 20, 2017 – FTC sending refunds to victims of phony Yellow Pages scam

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took legal action against CPU Service, Inc and its principal owner, Robert Ray Law shutting down a scam operated by Law and his company by which phony invoices for what appear to be “Yellow Pages” advertising was sent to thousands of small businesses, doctor’s offices, retirement homes and religious schools that had never ordered the ads.  The invoices carried the familiar walking fingers logo of AT&T, but was not affiliated with AT&T in any manner. Many people fell for this scam with many victims sending as much as $487 to the scammers.

TIPS

The FTC is now sending out refund checks to victims of the scam.  If you were one of the victims, you can get more information by going to the tab at the top of this page entitled “FTC Scam Refunds” and click on CPU Service Incorporated.

As for the rest of us, whether you are an individual consumer or a business, you should never pay a bill even if it appears legitimate unless you have verified that the bill is indeed owed.  Scammers will often send out bills that appear to be legitimate in the hope that their victims will not notice the difference between the scam invoice and a legitimate invoice.

Scam of the day – December 10, 2015 – FTC refunding money to victims of online Yellow Pages scam

The FTC, through its refund administrator for this case, Gilardi & Co. LLC is sending checks to victims of  a scam involving Your Yellow Book which sent out invoices bearing a logo like the famous walking fingers logo used by the legitimate Yellow Pages to various companies.  The invoices indicated that they were only verifying or updating an already existing business relationship when in fact there was no prior business relationship and no prior contract for a listing in the Your Yellow Book’s online business directory, which had no relationship with the legitimate Yellow Pages.  Many people paid the invoices that ranged up to $487 not realizing that the bill was a total misrepresentation.   Victims that initially refused to pay the phony invoices were harassed by phony debt collectors.  Many small businesses, doctor’s offices, retirement homes and charitable organizations were victimized by this scam.

TIPS

If you were a victim of this scam and have not yet received your check, click on the tab at the top of this page marked “FTC Scam Refunds” for information as to how to claim your refund.   Refund checks must be cashed by February 2, 2016. However, everyone else should take a lesson from this common scam and never pay an invoice merely because you get what appears to be a legitimate looking bill until you have confirmed that the bill is indeed legitimate and that you or your company actually received the services for which you are billed.  This particular scam is both simple and effective so it is up to you to be on the lookout for it.

Scam of the day – July 29, 2015 – FTC refunds money to victims of Yellow Pages scam

The FTC has settled a claim against a company known as Your Yellow Book which sent out invoices to companies bearing a logo like the famous walking fingers logo used by the legitimate Yellow Pages.  The invoices indicated that they were only verifying or updating an already existing business relationship when in fact there was no prior business relationship and no prior contract for a listing in the Your Yellow Book’s online business directory, which had no relationship with the legitimate Yellow Pages.  Many people paid the invoices that ranged up to $487 not realizing that the bill was a total misrepresentation.  Two of the people involved in Your Yellow Book, Brandie Law and Robert Law had previously been involved with similar actions in 2011 and 2012.  The FTC is now, through a claims administrator mailing more than 3,133 checks to victims of this scam.  For more information about these refunds go to the tab at the top of the page marked “FTC Scam Refunds.”

TIPS

If you were a victim of this scam and have not yet received your check, click on the tab at the top of this page marked “FTC Scam Refunds” for information as to how to claim your refund.  However, everyone else should take a lesson from this common scam and never pay an invoice merely because you get what appears to be a legitimate looking bill until you have confirmed that the bill is indeed legitimate and that you or your company actually received the services for which you are billed.  This particular scam is both simple and effective so it is up to you to be on the lookout for it.

Scam of the day – November 24, 2013 – Phony Yellow Pages scam

The Federal Trade Commission recently got an injunction stopping the operation of a scam based in Montreal, Canada, but aimed at American businesses and churches involving phony online business directory listings.  At the time that the FTC acted, the scammers, Mohamad Khaled Kaddoura, Derek Cessford and Aaron Kirby as well as the fifteen companies under which they operated had stolen more than fourteen million dollars from unsuspecting victims.  The scam would start with a phone call in which the scammers said that they were verifying contact information to update or confirm existing directory listings.  Other times they said that they were calling to verify information for cancellation of a listing.  In every instance, these were total misrepresentations because the businesses and churches called had no previous relationship with the callers.  The calls were then followed up with bills averaging about $500.  When the victims complained, the scammers played back portions of the initial telephone calls that made it sound like they actually did purchase the listing services.  If the victims still refused to pay, the then received calls purporting to be from collection agencies threatening legal action.

TIPS

Never provide information to anyone over the phone or in response to an email or text message unless you are absolutely sure that the person contacting you is legitimate and they have a legitimate need for the information you are providing.   In this case,  people receiving the original call should have refused to provide any information until they had verified that their company or church actually had an account with the caller, which, of course they did not.  Had they taken this simple step rather than provide information to someone they did not know, they could have avoided much trouble.  This is a valuable lesson for all of us.  Scammers will often sound legitimate, but being aware of that, you should always decline to provide information to anyone who contacts you until you have absolutely verified that the call is legitimate and the need for the information is legitimate.