Were You a Victim Of Consumer Fraud?

by on October 2, 2009


We get a LOT of visitors here at The Plumber who ran into one of those fake blogs and fake news sites that keep sprouting up all over the internet.   The Google Biz Kit and Google Adworks and Google Fortune sites all appear to be variations on the Google Treasure Chest scam that was investigated and settled with the FTC earlier this year.

Hopefully you had the luck to find a site or a post or a REAL news story exposing these types of products for what they really are.  False advertising, false promises, and false hope that you only need to pay $1.97 or $3.87 for a kit that lets you make money at home with Google.

However, many are taken in by these people.  What should you do about it? Call and cancel?  Call the police? Hire a fraud lawyer and start a class action lawsuit?  While we are not consumer lawyers here at the Electron Plumber nor do we claim to be, here are our suggestions:

  1. Don’t feel bad!  You have experienced the Internet equivalent of a mugging.  You want to work at home, make some money online, other people are doing it, why not you?  So you sign up, since it’s only $2 or $3 right?  Then BAM, you start getting hit with recurring charges over and over on your credit card or debit card, odd charges with funny names like Search Payday or Health Biz Online for $69.87 or $78.64. then Grant Searcher for $29.95, and a couple others.
  2. What do you do next?  Many people report that when they call to get a refund, they are told no, can’t get through, or worse yet, told they have canceled and still get charged anyway.  Some can “cancel” one of the charges at that number, but cannot get a refund since technically you received the “product” that you signed up for, despite the fact you were never told it was $79.87 + $29.47 + $9.95 A MONTH in the first place.  Typically the person you call will be a third party answering service.  Yell at them all you want, if they are not authorized to give refunds you aren’t going to get far.  You can dispute the charges but if you used a Debit Card you do not have much recourse here.  They took your money, they have proof that you went to their website and entered your card number, and with most debit cards it’s much harder to dispute charges.  The bank views the transaction as if you wrote the vendor a check.
  3. You can certainly report them to the authorities like the FTC, the ICCC, and your local Attorney Generals office, but so what?  They’re trying to catch killers and rapists and money launderers and mobsters and big time scammers.  They likely do not have the time or resources to go after someone who may or may not have tricked you out of $75 on your credit card number that you willingly gave them.  And if they do, these guys are slippery.  The names and address of the companies running these Google Money scams keep disappearing and reappearing with different names in different states every month or so.  This is how they operate.  They keep the amount they take from your account low, under $100 typically in the hopes that you will just give up and get on with your life rather than try to go after them.  They skirt the edge of the law and so far seem to be getting away with it for the most part.
  4. Protect your identity!  While we cannot lump every Google Biz Kit type scam into one basket, the possibility certainly exists that the information you gave to these people will not be safe and that your credit card and information might be used to steal your identity.  Report your card lost or stolen and use a ID Theft monitoring service to keep an eye on all your credit accounts, at least for a few months.  Check out our report on what makes Experian the Best ID Theft Protection services.
  5. Hire a fraud lawyer and try to start a class action lawsuit.  There are lawyers who specialize in consumer fraud cases who would love to take down one of these Google Money types.  They get lots in fees, the lead plaintiff gets a nice big cut, everyone else gets $5 and the Google Money scammers get bankrupt.  So you really want to be the lead plaintiff here and not just another person who gets $5.

And if you do go the fraud lawsuit route, please stop back and let us know how it goes.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lisa Hounsell January 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I was looking to make some money working from home as I had to quit my job due to illness 6 months ago. I was expecting to make a payment of £1.26 for postage and packing and have been mugged off for £1o1.12 in direct debits. I have yet to receive any information or starter pack. I am currently looking for work, but due to financial difficulties which affect my illness, and lack of funds for food I am finding it a strugle. I also have a 15yr old daughter. These unathourised payments have lead to my general household bills not being paid and an excess of additional bank charges due to this fraudulent action. I hope these people can sleep at nights. It seems that there is little that I can do, even my bank (barclays) did not appear interested as I had sanctioned the original payment for p&p probably the latest technical loophole to allow people to get away with these activities! I think it is a disgrace that these people can just continually do what they like whilst conning people that are trying to work to improve their general circumstances. I have just had to cancel my bank card as it seems to be the only way to prevent Internetbiz kit from further ripping me off. I shall now be put through the inconvenience of only being able to access my account in person, not that I have any money anyway lol! If anybody else has had this experience then they know how I feel. Good luck to you all with regards to getting any compensation, I guess we will be more careful with our details in future, and I thought Barclays had automatic internet protection for this sort of thing, you might want to check that one out first before any future use. Love and peace to the honest folks X

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