Many Consumers Caught In Messy Web Of Internet Scam Sites

[Wednesday, March 7th, 2012]

A recently-uncovered scam involving fraudulent health and self-help websites indicates that such crooks bank on the fact that the vast majority of consumers don’t go over their credit card bills carefully enough – or at all. These deceitful sties make money by issuing recurring monthly charges to the credit card accounts of victims and then shut the sites down when too many people notice something is amiss and the complaints start mounting.

This particular fraud involves some 350 sites and hundreds of thousands of consumers. It, and similar scams, dependupon consumers to distractedly pay their credit card bill each month without combing it over with a careful eye to make sure they can account for every single entry.

“Simply because they aren’t checking their bills diligently, they’re missing it,” said YaronSamid, the chief executive of personal finance security service BillGuard.com, according to The Boston Globe.

These way these sham sites usually work is whenever a visitor clicks to take advantage of a “free trail offer” of a beauty product, a self-help program regimen or a diet aid they are actually signing themselves up for a something that is called “negative option billing.” This shady business practice automatically provides services or goods at regular intervals and the customer winds up having to pay unless they manage to make a specific request to decline the items prior to billing. If the individual does not go out of their way to cancel the order, the charges start racking up each month – typically anywhere from $49 to $99. It is not an uncommon practice for scam site owners to arrange for their domain registration information to be obscured – an option that is available to any website owner for a fee – making it impossible to track down the owner.

Regarding the racket reported by The Boston Globe, analysts from BillGuard did some investigating and discovered many similarities amongst the sites, a few of which were named coredetox.com, bestdetoxplan.com, detoxingtoday.com, yourdetoxification.com and startmangotoday.com. There was a similarity among templates used for the sites, in addition to all of the computer serves being located overseas.

Consumers caught up in the swindle who attempted to call and discontinue the service would have an incredibly difficult time reaching someone at the number provided on the site. Most likely the line would just ring and ring or it may even be disconnected.

As a result, “The credit cards are continually being charged,”saidSamid, according to The Boston Globe.

Anyone finding themselves victimized of such a scam is encouraged to dispute the charge with their credit card issuer and contact the Federal Trade Commission or the FBI online and file a complaint site.

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