Con artists targeting shoppers of seen on TV products - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Con artists targeting shoppers of seen on TV products

Consumer Investigator, Danielle Serino warns viewers all the time about ordering as-seen-on-TV products over the phone. A lot of them don't work, and good luck getting a refund. 

But now thieves are stealing your information from those companies and calling with some pretty scary threats. 

“It's scary when somebody calls you and says they are going to take all of your property,” says Dinorah Sargavo.

That's what happened to her after she bought products being sold on television. Con artists stole a list of customers and then called them, claiming that the consumers had failed to pay for their purchases and were now facing lawsuits and thousands of dollars in fines. 

They were given an option to travel to Washington to court, be arrested or pay money. 

For $200 or $300 dollars the whole problem could go away. 

All of the calls were made to Spanish speaking Hispanic consumers. Many of them hadn't been in the country for very long, and they didn't know their rights. 

“How do I feel? Very mad. I feel angry,” exclaims Dinorah. "It's not fair. I work very hard for everything that I have,” says Dinorah. 

She was not alone. There were more that 1000 victims and two million dollars in losses. Postal inspectors say there is one major warning sign for a scam like this one: the caller's sense of urgency. 

"They scare them and force them to make the payment right away,” says Bryan Masmela, US Postal Inspector 

"If somebody called me and said I had to spend money, I would just call police and customer affairs to see if it were true. I need to be sure before I pay anything," says Dinorah. 

Postal inspectors say the two suspects in Dinorah's case were charged with mail fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and attempted extortion. They are awaiting sentencing. 

Some companies will get you to buy one product, and then continue to send shipments or packages that you've never ordered. Before those packages arrive, you'll get a call telling you a new shipment is on its way and the telemarketer will demand a money order be ready for the COD payment.

There are more examples of telemarketing fraud and tips to avoid.

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