Special Telemarketing Scams Issue Internet ScamBusters
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright (c) Audri and Jim Lanford
Issue #64, July 16, 2003
This Special Issue of ScamBusters (which is short) includes info on the Do Not Call Registry, a new Telemarketing scam and an important update to the last issue.
Special Telemarketing Issue
Do Not Call Registry
It's become very clear that US consumers are completely fed up with telemarketers.
More than 3.4 million people visited the new DoNotCall.Gov Web site on the day it launched, June 27, 2003. Twenty-three million people had signed up by July 11!
The new National Do Not Call Registry was created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to allow consumers to register their phone numbers in a national database with the goal of limiting telemarketing calls.
There are two ways to register: online or by phone.
Online is easier. Simply Click Here
You will need to provide an email address so you can get a confirmation email when you register.
To register by phone, you must call from the phone you wish to register in the directory. Call 888-382-1222.
You must register by August 31, 2003, to be included when the program goes into effect on October 1, 2003. Thereafter, you will be included in the Registry three months after you register.
Registration lasts for five years or until your phone number is disconnected. You may also un-register a number if you wish (although we don't know why you'd want to).
Unfortunately, the Do Not Call Registry won't stop all telemarketing calls. The loopholes include:
- Political organizations.
- Telephone survey calls.
- Companies with whom you have a "prior business relationship."
There are stiff penalties for companies that do not comply. You can get more information, including how to file a complaint, at:
We signed up right away and recommend you do the same if you want to eliminate many of the telemarketing calls you receive. We predict one downside: some companies that can no longer telemarket will increase their use of spam.
New Nigerian Fee Telemarketing Scam
It was bound to happen: A new variant of the Nigerian fee scam is being spread via telemarketing. Last week someone called and said they were trying to send us a fax. They asked for our fax number.
When Audri asked who was calling, the caller said, "It's about a payment."
When she asked, "What kind of payment?"
He responded: "A payment to you." Then he asked her, "Who is this?"
She asked again, "Who is this?" without answering. After a bit of going back and forth, he finally said, "It's a fax from the Office of the President of Nigeria." At that point, Audri hung up.
So, be very careful about giving out your fax number when someone calls and says they are trying to send a fax. Otherwise, you may well be giving your fax number to scammers.
As we were getting ready to send this Special Issue, we heard about another new variant to this scam:
Apparently, scammers are now visiting business and financial chat rooms. After some interaction, they tell you they want to deposit millions of dollars into your bank account (this time from a bank in Iraq).
It doesn't matter how scammers find you (spam, phone, fax, chat room, etc.). Or what country they're from (Nigeria, Congo, Iraq, etc.). Or why they want to give you the money (contract issues, they prayed and found your church was the answer, someone died, etc.).
Here's the important point: If a stranger wants to deposit millions of dollars into your bank account, it's almost certainly a scam.
Another Identity Theft and/or Credit Card Scam:
The Massachusetts Lottery Scam
Here's another spam scam similar to those we described in the last issue:
Imagine getting an email saying you've won $30,000 from the Massachusetts Lottery. You are directed to the "official" Web site of the Massachusetts Lottery at mass-lottery.org. (This site has been taken down.)
The real official Massachusetts Lottery site is at:
What is different and somewhat convincing is that this email includes a user name and password that supposedly allows you to claim your prize.
The home page of the fake site did look authentic.
However, the page you went to when you logged in to collect your prize was very different. This page contained many spelling and grammatical errors.
Even worse though, is that this page includes the scam. You're told, "If you are a US resident, not a resident of the State of Massachusetts, you'll br (sic) required to pay the US$500.00 gaming tax. If you are receiving from outside the united states (sic), you will have to pay US$100.00 foreign gaming tax."
Naturally, they ask for your credit card number, social security number and other personal information.
What to do if you get this kind of email: First, realize it is probably a scam. It's unlikely that you will be notified by email if you win the lottery. More important, lottery organizations never ask you for credit card information. Lottery tickets are purchased via cash.
Most important: Do not give your credit card number, social security number and other personal information to any Web site that you visit from spam.
Finally, you might be interested in Les Christie of CNN/Money's excellent article called "Burden of spoof," which is more about how scammers use fake Web sites to steal your credit card number and your identity:
Enjoy the rest of the month -- scam-free.