Looking For Scam Victims

Have you been the victim of a scam? Or had someone try to scam you? I’m working on a Reader’s Digest article scams and am looking for some anecdotes about specific “ripped from the headline” type scams. The scams and national trends I’m looking at are posted inside. If your story fits the trend but not necessarily the exact scam, I want to hear from you too. If you have a good story and are willing to have your picture published, please send a note with your contact info to ben@consumerist.com, subject: Scam Tales.

ESCOS (energy service companies) promise savings over your default provider, but they use questionable sales tactics targeting and manipulating elderly and non-native English speakers. Bills can skyrocket as the rates are now variable and subject to the volatility of the spot energy market.

The ad promises extremely low moving rates. Foreclosed, strapped-for-cash, short on time, you hire the moving company. Everything is going great until you reach your new home. Claiming that the items actual weight is much greater than the estimate, the delivery price has suddenly spiked. Pay up, or everything you own gets sold at auction.

Scammers spam out fake charitable donation requests, luring the generous into phishing websites.

Patients can find even pre-approved insurance claims denied and in-network providers are all of a sudden somehow no longer in the network.

ONLINE AUCTION SITES (advance fee fraud)
You sell an item on ebay or craigslist and the buyer wants to pay you with a check or money order in excess of the value of the item. The buyer tells you that a “shipping agent” is going to pick up the item and send it to them, but they need you to mail the shipping agent his fee, which is what the extra money is for. The original check ends up being fake, and you lose your sale item and the money you paid out.

An automated phone messages says jobs are available if you call this number. While you wait on hold, you’re actually racking up a $9/minute phone bill.

Some gas stations are intentionally shorting customers at the pump.

“Annuity funds,” actually insurance in disguise, are being aggressively marketed towards seniors using deceptive tactics. Payouts don’t start for years, many of the elders may not live to see the benefit, and there’s incredibly stiff penalties for early withdrawals. Very bad news for people who put their entire life savings in them.

After completing one purchase, people are told that they can earn a $10 gift card just by completing a survey or providing their email address. Tiny print informs them that, just kidding, they’re actually agreeing to get charged $10-$20/month on their credit card for a “service” of no discernible value.

(Illustration: Getty)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.