Photo by Hilary Kinyua,wikicommons
I wanted to know what the ingredients were in the widely promoted “new” miracle anti-aging products. Since I have written seven editions of A Consumers’ Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients (Crown Publishers), I wanted to find out about the ingredients. I sent for various “free” samples of the products. I filled out my address and foolishly gave them my credit card number for the $4.95 “delivery fee”. A few days later, I looked at my monthly credit card bill and there were numerous debits for $89-$95 for my “Free samples” (To be automatically taken out every month).
While searching for “creams” I found another “free” site I was unknowingly paying $39 for each month for nearly a year. The site provided “free” access to very fine illustrations for use on the web.
I am not the only one who has fallen for the “Free Sample” pitch and find surprising charges later your credit site. I should have known better but I admit I am a prime target for scammers. I am widow over 65 years and a curious journalist.
The first big scam I became involved with is “The Grandma Scam.” I received a phone call from a deep-voiced, authoritative man who said I would have to bail my grandson out of jail in Peru. My grandson happened to be visiting ports aboard his maritime school ship.
A teenaged-sounding young male voice came on the phone asking for help pleading: “Please don’t tell my mother.”
I sent $1900 by Western Union. The deep voice man then called again and asked for more money. By then my daughter was at my house, grabbed the phone and told Deep-Voice to” get lost”. She reminded me my grandson doesn’t drink or get into trouble.
The next scam which took advantage of me: “You need your computer serviced.” It looked exactly like my computer maker’s site.
Since I am a writer and depend on my computer, I quickly agreed to their offer. The scammers got into my computer and fouled it up so it was unusable.
I had to go to The Geek Squad at Best Buy®. It took a week to fix. The Squad Tech said it was Chinese hackers who caused the problem but the original caller, I thought the man had an Indian Accent. He has called several times afterwards to ensnare me.
I ignore him but I don’t know if he or someone scammer tried to fool me again. Two days ago, I received a message from an American voice saying “Don’t Turn Off your computer or your hard drive will be wiped clean.” My screen was frozen but I immediate turned off the computer. When I turned it back on the same message was on the screen. I again turned off the computer and waited a half hour to restart it. Then it was fine.
I did not fall for the scam in which a middle-aged widower photographed with a young boy offered to be “my friend” on FACEBOOK. I did notice that the next would-be suitor, a few days later, was a different man but with the same boy.
I am wiser now. As my youngest son advised me:” Mom, there is no free lunch!” I will try, henceforth, to avoid “free offers.”.
If you get scammed, please, for the sake of the targets like me, report it on FACEBOOK or some site such as Consumer Reports (consumerreports.org) or Yelp (https://www.yelp.com).
I reported the anti-aging scam to the FTC which handles false advertising. Complaints help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies to bring scam artists to justice and put an end to unfair and misleading business practices. If you have a complaint, file it online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
Disputes that relate to marketplace issues experienced with the services or products a business provides contact The Better Business Bureau. (BBB.org).
If you have been bilked in a telemarketing scheme in which the U.S. Mail was used, or if you know about a scheme that should be investigated, inform your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector.
PS: I will report the about the chemical ingredients in anti-aging products in a forthcoming blog. The subject requires a lot of research. Hopefully, I won’t be delayed by another scam.