No one is immune from scams

An Ashcroft resident who was taken in by scammers wants to make sure no one else is fooled.

Ashcroft resident Donald Cram wants to go on the record as someone who’s been scammed, in the hope that he can prevent others from suffering the same fate.

He’s fallen victim twice in recent months, to the tune of a few hundred dollars. Once was through an online game challenge called Luxquiz which offered an iPhone 6 as a prize, while the other was through a company called Tru Belleza, which offers skincare products.

“I’ve never been scammed before this; I always thought I was pretty careful,” he says. “But the pitches were very well done, and I believed them.”

In the case of Luxquiz, people are invited to take part in a series of trivia quiz challenges which start out as free, then cost $1 a time. By giving your e-mail address you have “opted-in” to their mailing list, and to play the $1 games you need to give a credit card number. Once the company has this information you are considered part of the club, and will be charged around $130 a month until you opt out; a process they make as difficult as possible.

Tru Belleza is one of many skincare scams doing the rounds, and falls under the “Free Trial” trap, one of the Better Business Bureau’s top ten scams of 2015. Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for the BBB serving Mainland BC, says that all the skincare products advertised under various company names could well come from the same pot. Whether it’s a scam or not comes down to the terms of the agreement, and he says that scammers make the conditions very murky.

“People need to be very clear about what the terms are,” he notes. “They should be upfront, with a clear process to get out of the agreement.” Scammers are vague about the conditions, and make it difficult to get out of contracts. They can become belligerent when customers try to cancel agreements: “They try to bully you, push you around.” Cram says this was his experience when he tried to cancel the contract with Tru Belleza.

He initially agreed to pay a small fee for trial samples, which took 12 days to arrive. He later found out that he had only 14 days from the time of purchase to cancel the order, otherwise he would be charged the full amount. “Many people may not have their order by the time the 14 days are up. It sounds like a good deal to get a $4 sample, but I ended up paying more than $250.”

Cram says that when he reported the scams, he was advised that in future he should Google the name of the company plus the word “scam”, which would show if the company was legitimate. Kelly agrees that’s an excellent idea.

“Do your research. If you’re after good-quality skin care products, go to well-known names.” He doesn’t think that any one demographic is being targeted. “They’re trying to get as many people as they can.”