News and Tribune

April 22, 2009

Indiana State Police report: Scam artists pretend to be from Gaming Commission

BBB warns Facebook users to read fine print

By MATT THACKER

The latest agency name to be used in a growing number of telephone scams is the Indiana Gaming Commission.

The Indiana State Police reports that callers identifying themselves as representatives of the commission tell the targeted victim that they won a sweepstakes. The person is given a fake prize digit and told to call a number where they are instructed to send a $2,000 check for processing.

“The Indiana Gaming Commission is a regulatory agency and does not conduct sweepstakes or any other type of gambling,” Ernest Yelton, executive director of the commission, said in an ISP press release. “I want to ensure the public knows these calls are criminal hoaxes designed to steal their hard-earned money.”

ISP is not aware of anyone losing money in the scam, according to the press release. The scam has been attempted in Michigan and Indiana.



Ads on social networking sites can be misleading

The Better Business Bureau is warning Facebook’s about 200 million users to read the fine print when responding to ads.

A BBB press release sent out Monday stated that an estimated $1.3 billion will be spent on social networking advertising this year. The large print on ads featured on social networking sites, like Facebook and Myspace, do not always tell the entire story.

Many companies offer a free trial but will automatically sign people up for a monthly subscription. If they do not cancel before the free trial period ends, they will be billed.

The BBB listed some ad campaigns that drew the most complaints.

• Some consumers have complained that acai berry supplement companies continued to bill them despite repeated attempts to cancel their orders. Experts also question whether the acai berry helps with weight-loss, as its advertisers suggest.

• Last year, the BBB received more than 3,500 people who signed up for a work-at-home program and were disappointed. Oftentimes, the fine print states that there is no refund.

• Ads claiming to give away free items, like a MacBook Air, oftentimes require people to make expensive purchases. One offer required users to spend $1,500 on furniture to receive their MacBook.



SO YOU KNOW

• Social networking sites were more popular than e-mail in 2008.

• Facebook had 108.3 million people visit its site in December 2008.

• Facebook users spent 20.5 billion minutes on the site last year.

• eMarketer estimates $1.3 billion will be spent on social networking ads this year.

— Better Business Bureau