Anatomy of a Scam Investigation, Chapter Thirteen

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15 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    "conduct yourself accordingly hereabouts"

    Don't you mean, "govern yourselves accordingly?"

    Also, since I'm a (well, a few months anyway) long-time reader and first-time poster, I also want to say that I have found this blog to be thought-provoking, educational, and hilarious. My thanks to those who provide it.

  2. piperTom says:

    Not quite on topic, but Ken asked, "what kind of solicitation has no information about the [thing offered] or their [abilities] to convince you …?" That would be most political ads.

    Oh, by the way: Vote for Gary Johnson!

    /works?

  3. Joe Pullen says:

    Good work. Glad to see this guy is finally starting to get cornered. I suspect Steven Hamilton from Pacific Telecom and Fred Accuardi from Telephone Management Corp. (the guys responsible for all the annoying "Card Services" illegal telemarketing calls) are about to go down as well.

    http://telemarketerspam.wordpress.com/

  4. tsrblke says:

    Heh, I Just bought a house, got a thing in the mail that said "Deed Transfer Notice" on it, and looked a lot like a bill (It said "Due: $88 By 9/13" or some such.)
    At first I assumed that my city (hard up for cash that it is) decided to institute new record keeping fees, luckily I read the whole thing through, and noticed that it's some company that wants to charge $88 to mail me a copy of the deed to my house.
    In the boilerplate mouseprint on the back it even noted: "Deeds can be obtained from your city records often for as litte as $5"
    At first I was really really angry. Middle of a freaken economic turmoil period, housing is just picking up and along comes this california company trying to bilk new homebuyers out of $88. I had intended to mail it to my State AG, but got busy and it sat on the counter, until my wife picked it up and said "Do we need to pay this bill, is it past due?"
    Sadly, I don't have the time Ken has and just had to pitch it all.

  5. Gavin says:

    Taking advantage of the ignorant, old, naive, and sometime just plain dumb has never been easier.

  6. Josh M. says:

    @tsrblke Next time just scan it and send it to Ken. I'm sure he'll be looking for some new scheme to break once the UST thing wraps up.

    And Ken? Keep up the damn good work. I've been wondering recently what had become of these chuckleheads, and you've satisfied my curiosity. Now to make up some popcorn and watch the shenanigans that will undoubtedly ensue next week after Mr. Bell's next court appearance.

  7. perlhaqr says:

    As I said in the first chapter of this series, solicitations designed to look like bills are prohibited by federal law, which requires multiple specific elements that UST has been ignoring for more than a year now:

    Hunh. I'm sure I read that in the first chapter, but didn't click until just now that this probably applies to those domain registrars that send out those: "Your domain is expiring, send us $whatever to renew now!*"

    "*And transfer from your current registrar to us."

    The next time I get one of those, perhaps I will report it to the appropriate authority.

  8. Dan Weber says:

    I don't know if this is new or I'm just massively out of the loop, but their website at us-telecom.com has a section for how to handle warranties and "be removed from their mailing list."

    They use vague nouns for whatever it is they send out. "Received a Maintenance Warranty?"

  9. EH says:

    perlhaqr: That is likely the Domain Registry of America, who has already been busted and is still in business.

    http://www.the-name-i-wanted-was-already-taken-so-i-used-a-lot-of-dashes.com/the-domain-registry-of-america-scam/

  10. Dan Weber says:

    Wow, I would have thought the Domain Registry offer was clearly not a bill. Maybe I've just been primed by the UST stuff to have really low standards.

    But if that is bad enough to warrant a slap from the FTC, there is no way that UST isn't way way way over the line.

  11. perlhaqr says:

    Dan: That's one of the new and improved "offers". The old ones were really quite deceptive. IIRC (it's been a long while since I looked at one, since I can tell what they are from just the outside of the envelope now) they didn't even have the name of the company on the front. It just looked, well, like a bill, with your name and address and domain name on it, with a set of ticky boxes to select how long you wanted to renew for, and an address to send the check to.

  12. Andrew K says:

    Wow…

    So I caught up on this series today and I have to say I have been completly floored by it. By the scope of this scam, by how long they have been able to get away with it and by the sheer gall these people seem to posess.

    I know you mentioned in your first article about how it's never the scammer's first rodeo. I do have to ask though, did you believe that it was this extensive when you started looking into it? Or am I that nieve and that this is nothing compared to most other scams?

    Growing up with the internet has made me left me a cynical shell of a real man. Even so this has opened my eyes to just how brazen these scam artists can be. I just can't understand how these people can just push on with their scam. I mean they have to know that the walls are closing in on them by now?

    Anyway, thanks for this.

  13. bandersnatch says:

    When this showed up in my Google Reader feed, I went back and started reading the whole series from the beginning – so impressed by your diligence and what you've accomplished so far here, and I wanted to say thank you for doing it, and for demonstrating how ordinary random people on the internet can also chip away at the problems these scum cause.

    But you've heard all that from lots of people, mostly I wanted to comment to remind you to add Chapter 13 to the index. ;)

  14. Gavin says:

    I wonder what you'd recommend we do if we stumble across organizations like this or other scams? I ran across a scam when I was in college. It was one of those scam jobs where they send you a check for you to deposit (because they're on the road so very much selling products and they don't have time to go to the bank) and allow you to keep a percentage while you send them a check/cash of your own. The check then bounces in a few days but you've already forwarded the money to the other guys. I'd heard of these so my ears perked up when I saw it listed in my college's job website (where jobs have to be approved to be added, so other students would have thought it was legitimate).

    I reported it immediately to my college and also applied for the job out of curiosity. Once I got the check I mailed it and all correspondence to the office of the attorney general as I was instructed to do by my school (they subsequently removed the job from our website).

    Are there additional steps, something more we can do to ding these people and help them actually get caught?

  15. Denise Scherer says:

    Ken, as you probably already know, David Bell's next pre-trial has been rescheduled to 11/30/12.
    Also, just to let you know an FBI agent and a USPS Inspector/Investigator showed up at my home – guess what they wanted? – Information on David Bell! They are hot on his heels now!