Consumer Watch: Bad economy leads to increase in scam artists


Posted on April 22, 2009 at 6:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 15 at 1:25 PM

(WHAS11) - From social networking sites like Facebook, to sweepstakes claiming to be tied to the Indiana Gaming Commission, scam artists are getting very creative trying to steal money. And local police say in most cases the bad guys get away because prosecuting overseas is impossible. WHAS11 features just a few of those scams in this Consumer Watch.

Scam artists are amping up their efforts in a bad economy. Unless someone shows up on a door step with a check in hand, Indiana State Police Sergeant Jerry Goodin says don't believe them.

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"If you would have really won these things, they really happened, there's going to be somebody at your door knocking and they're going to have the balloons and the flyers and the big paper check with TV, cameras in your face saying congratulations you've won this big amount of money," said Goodin.

Gooden warned about a telephone scam in the Hoosier state using the name of the Indiana Gaming Commission. A caller says you've won a sweepstakes and asks for your money to cover processing and insurance costs. And all police can do is inform the public because the bad guys are overseas.

"Unfortunately what's going on is a lot of these scams are from overseas. They're coming from Canada, Europe, or somewhere and we don't have jurisdiction in these places so a lot of times people fall for these scams they're out of luck they lose their money," said Goodin.

Kentucky's Attorney General, Jack Conway, is also warning about fraud. In the Bluegrass, scam artists are targeting economic stimulus payments, due in May, to people who receive social security and disability payments.

Another scam is trying to cash in, using the popularity of social networking sites. Over 108-million people are now on Facebook and Reanna Smith-Hamblin from the Better Business Bureau says to beware.

"That's right; it's such a popular social networking site the scam artists know where to go. Facebook, MySpace, other social sites are all over the place so the scam artists obviously take advantage of that," says Hamblin.

The advertisements are what to look out for. Just because an ad is on a website you trust, doesn't mean you can trust the advertisers.

"A lot of those are offering free trials. If you don't unsubscribe within a certain amount of time your checkbook or your credit card can really be hit big time," said Smith-Hamblin.

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