SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska




January 06, 2010

Anchorage, Alaska ­ 2009 will be remembered as a year when consumer finance, employment and pop-culture trends were at the forefront of everyone's minds-especially scammers, who preyed heavily on emotions. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington reports on the top 10 scams of 2009:

1. Lottery checks - Consumers receive phoney letters in the mail from supposed lotteries like "Publisher's Clearing House" telling them they've won millions, and must wire hundreds of dollars back to the scammers to cover taxes or some other bogus fee. The letter is accompanied by a check for as much as $5,900 with instructions to call the Publishers Clearing House representative listed in the letter. Over the phone, the victims are told that, in order to receive their prize, they must cash the check and then wire approximately $4,000 to Publishers Clearing House and then the rest of the winnings will be sent to them. The check, however, is fraudulent and any money wired to the scammers cannot be recovered.

While this scam predominantly takes advantage of individuals, business owners also need to be aware that their company's name could potentially be used by fraudsters to pull off this con. The fraudulent checks sent to the supposed prize winners with the letter are copies of checks from legitimate businesses which have been stolen by the scammers.

2. Mortgage foreclosure rescue /debt assistance - Unethical companies target families struggling in the current economy by offering to help save their home or reduce debt; victims pay hundreds of dollars up-front for assistance they never receive.

3. Robocalls - Phone numbers - some of which are on the do-not-call list - receive harassing automated telemarketing calls, which often falsely claim that the consumer's auto warranty is about to expire or offer to help reduce debt and credit card interest rates. The issue prompted the FTC's ban on robocalls.

4. Job hunter scams - As unemployment in the U.S. hit double digits for the first time in over 25 years, scammers had a large pool of out-of-work individuals to target, taking advantage of job hunters: False work-at-home opportunities and rebate processing schemes abound.

BBB offers the following advice to help job hunters avoid being taken advantage of by a work-at-home scam:

  • Beware of offers that sound too good to be true, including the promise of big bucks for little work or no experience.
  • Always check out the company's BBB Reliability Report for free at to see if the company has received a passing grade from BBB.
  • Never give your credit card or checking account information to an individual or business that promises employment. Legitimate employers never charge fees to prospective employees. Period.

5. Mystery shopping - The job asks consumers to secret shop a few stores, evaluate customer service and then transfer money back to their employer via Western Union or MoneyGram. The scam company sends an authentic-looking check to cover the costs. After wiring funds, victims discover it's a fake check and are out hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Your Better Business Bureau serving Alaska identifies 10 signs of a secret shopper job opportunity scheme:

1. While they advertise in a newspaper's 'help wanted' section or e-mail solicitation; instead, they are charging for: a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping companies, or a guarantee of a mystery shopping job.
2. You receive a solicitation or e-mail from a sender you do not know. Usually e-mails come from a free account, like yahoo or hotmail.
3. The e-mail or mail contains an offer for a job that you did not apply for.
4. The work begins before a formal job offer has been made: The quality of your work will determine whether you get the job.
5. An up-front monetary investment is required.
6. You must open a new bank account through a specific bank. This is presented as a requirement to do the job.
7. Your bank account or credit card information is needed to participate.
8. Commission or pay is deducted from a check they send you, which is probably counterfeit. For example: They send you a check for $5,000, and then tell you to reserve $100 as your commission and use the remaining $4,900 according to instruction.
9. There are instructions to wire money or transfer funds. Most likely, internationally.
10. They falsely advertise affiliation with BBB; however, the business is not a BBB Accredited Business.

6. Google work-from-home scams - Countless Web sites claim "you can learn how to make money from home using Google or Twitter." Schemers lure in consumers-who think they're getting a job with Google or Twitter-with misleading trial offers, starter kits and software.

7. Phishing emails/H1N1 spam - Fake Web sites and phishing or spam e-mails promising to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus were rampant in 2009.

8. Weight loss pill free trial offers - Online ads for acai berry or resveratrol weight loss pills use false endorsements from trusted national news organizations, Oprah, Rachel Ray or Doctor Oz in order to sell a "free product trial" with a small shipping charge; allegedly, credit cards are automatically charged month after month, without permission.

9. Memorabilia - With the election of the first African American President and the death of Michael Jackson, 2009 provided great opportunities for scammers to sell memorabilia, collectibles and commemorative items at inflated prices, which may have only sentimental value.

10. Friend/family in distress ­ Also known as the "Grandparent Scam," the victim receives a call or online message from a "friend" or "family member" claiming to be stuck in an emergency, car accident or false arrest. The victim wires the money, discovering later it was a scam artist impersonating a friend or relative.


Source of News:

Better Business Bureau

Sbout your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. The BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska