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Beware of Scammers Who Scam the Scammed

Picture this – you’re going about your day when you receive a phone call from a person who claims to be collecting donations for a local charity, or maybe it’s someone saying your name was picked in a drawing and you’ve won the big prize! Perhaps you post an online dating profile and the man of your dreams has shown up and is hoping you can lend him a little money so he can come see you. Against your gut instincts, you give someone your personal information, and you wait a few weeks only to realize that there is no charity, big prize, or dream date. In fact, your bank account is cleaned out or several credit cards have been opened in your name. That’s when you learn – you’ve been scammed.

People fall for scams every day. Most people want to trust others, and when they are promised a material gain, their ability to see red flags can be clouded. Unfortunately, scam artists are trained to recognize these traits and use them to their advantage – sometimes more than once. A person who has been the victim of a scam might be easily set up for yet another scam – only this time, it’s a scam built on the first scam. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) refers to these scams as refund and recovery scams, where a scammer will contact you and offer to get back the money you’ve lost to a con artist if you pay an upfront fee.

Per the Telemarketing Services Rule (TSR), a scam recovery service provider cannot ask for or collect money upfront. They must wait until seven business days after you’ve received the money or items they recover for you. Companies that recover lost money may sound legitimate, but more often than not, they aren’t. Although there are some governmental organizations that help people get back what they’ve been scammed out of, those entities do not charge fees.

Why Is This Happening To Me Again?

If you’re the victim of a scam, your name and personal information may be added to a list known as a sucker list. Scam artists who successfully steal from people keep a list of these people that they can sell to other scam artists. Victims on a sucker list may see an uptick in calls from people trying to collect money or information for fake companies or businesses. These businesses often seem like the real deal – they may send official-looking correspondence or throw out lots of statistics and knowledge when they’re talking with you. If you’re not sure that the company is real or another scam artist, here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  1. They guarantee they’ll get your money back – If the company guarantees they will recoup all your losses, it’s probably a fake. The agencies that legitimately try to help you will never make this kind of promise.

  2. They ask for a fee upfront – It’s illegal to accept an upfront fee. Recovery companies must wait seven business days after they’ve uncovered your stolen goods and returned them to you. Legitimate companies will not ask you to pay a fee prior to recovery. They will simply outline service fees that will occur if they are successful.

  3. They give you a mobile phone or Google account as their contact info – A government agency does not use a free email account. Their email addresses should end in “.gov”. Likewise, the agency should have an actual business phone line, not just a cell phone.

  4. They ask for your credit card or bank info – Remember, this is what got you in trouble in the first place! Don’t give out any personal financial information, even if they say they absolutely must have it in order to help you.

Contact the Ohio Consumer Law Attorneys

If you’ve been a victim of one or more scams, it’s understandable that you may feel as if you can’t trust anyone. The Ohio consumer law attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates are familiar with scams as well as refund and recovery schemes. They can explain what you should look for and how you can protect yourself against future fraudulent activity. For a free consultation of your situation, call (888) 726-3181 or send an email to advice@ohiodebthelp.com.