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Scambook is the leading consumer platform that helps consumers get their money back. Have a complaint? Did you get scammed?
Scambook is the leading consumer platform that helps consumers get their money back. Have a complaint? Did you get scammed?

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In today's Scambook weekly update, Kevan reviews more online dating dangers. In our last video, he talked about con artists who take advantage of users by creating fake profiles on popular internet dating websites like, eHarmony, Christian Mingle, Senior People Meet, OK Cupid and more. Now, Kevan describes another online dating danger: websites with misleading or even fraudulent membership services. Scambook members have reported over 470 complaints against one site,, with over $29,000 in reported damages. Kevan explains that users are allowed to join for free and see their matches. Then, users begin to receive flirty messages from lots of men or women in their area, but in order to reply and start a conversation, these sites require you to pay for a full subscription. On, Scambook members say that they stop receiving messages as soon as they start paying. On other websites, like and, our members say that the subscription fees were buried in the fine print, so they didn't realize they were signing up for a premium paid membership. When they decide to cancel, they can't reach customer service and the monthly fees keep adding up. Kevan reveals that some of our members have actually had to call their bank to dispute the charges or even cancel their credit card entirely.

Everyone wants companionship. Whether you're ready to settle down for the first time, meet someone new after a bad relationship or just looking for a romantic fling, online dating can be fun and convenient. These days, thousands of people find love online. Unfortunately, there are also thousands of people who fall victim to fraud schemes and identity theft. At Scambook, we've identified two main types of online dating fraud. We discussed the first type of fraud in last week's video, where Kevan highlighted how con artists create fake profiles, lure victims over time and then convince them to send money via Western Union or MoneyGram wire transfer.

The second type of online dating fraud reported by Scambook members refers to the dating websites themselves. We've received over 470 complaints against, 85 complaints against and 44 complaints against These three websites have accrued over $775,000 in total reported damages combined!

Although many of these complaints are directed at the con artists who use these websites as a platform to run their wire transfer schemes, a majority of Scambook members who complain against sites like are crying foul play against the companies themselves. These online dating sites allow you to sign up for a free profile to see your matches, upload personal photos and receive flirty messages. When you want to reply to these messages, however, you have to pay for a premium membership. That's when the trouble starts, according to our users.

On, Scambook users report that they stop receiving all messages as soon as they buy the paid account, or the messages they do receive simply redirect them to adult-content subscription sites. Our members suspect that actually matches you with automated accounts (also known as "bots") rather than real people. The messages you receive on are generated by computer code to entice you to buy the premium membership, according to our members' complaints.

On other sites like Christian Mingle and Senior People Meet, you may be reaching other members who are real, but the costs of the membership are often buried in the fine print when you sign up. Scambook members report that their free trial or special offer quickly switches into a paid subscription and unexpected monthly charges on their credit card.

In most Scambook complaints against online dating sites, whether our users are upset about misleading fees or accusing the website of fraudulent bot accounts, no one has success reaching customer service for a refund. Many Scambook members report extreme difficulty simply canceling their accounts to prevent future recurring charges. Sometimes, our members must resort to disputing the charges with their bank or even canceling their credit card.

Based on our member's complaints and evidence we've gathered in our own investigations, we recommend that you avoid entirely. As for legitimate online dating websites like Senior People Meet and Christian Mingle, we suggest that you read the fine print very carefully before you sign up -- especially if you're offered a special deal or a free trial. 

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Online dating is the subject of today's Scambook news. Kevan talks about fraud on dating websites like,, Christian Mingle, JDate,,, eHarmony, Craigslist Personals, OK Cupid and more. Our users report some of these sites bait-and-switch you and you end up paying for a subscription membership. You may receive unauthorized credit card charges and have difficulty cancelling your account. But Kevan explains that the worst schemes are executed by criminals who create fake profiles. If you're single and looking to meet that special someone online, be careful. The fraudsters might email you love letters, tell you stories about their fake job overseas, send you photos of their fake family and romance you until you agree to meet in person or even get married. Then, when it's time to meet, something goes wrong and your soul mate needs you to wire money via Western Union or Money Gram. They promise to pay you back, but they're lying about everything -- including their love for you — and you'll only get ripped off. Kevan tells us about Scambook members who have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in online dating fraud, or even taken out a second mortgage to help their fake long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend. Finally, he offers safety tips about how to protect yourself and avoid the awful crooks who will break your heart and empty your bank account.

Here's how this type of fraud works. You create a profile on an online dating site, and one day you receive a message from a guy or girl who seems really great. You start chatting, exchange pictures and tell each other about your families. According to Scambook members, fraudsters pulling this scheme usually claim to be divorced or widowed, often express devout religious beliefs and often say they have a child. By constructing this well-rounded persona, they know their fake identity becomes easier to believe. Then, sooner or later, they wave the biggest red flag of all: they're living or working overseas and they can't meet you in person. Unfortunately, by this point, they're also writing you love letters and maybe sending you romantic gifts. So when they propose that you both spend the rest of your lives together after their work contract ends, it's easy to say yes. You may even make plans for a specific date to finally meet.

That's when everything starts to unravel. Your long-distance boyfriend or girlfriend tells you that there's a problem -- their Visa expired, someone stole their Passport, their child has a medical emergency -- and they need you to send money. It may be a relatively small amount, at first, and they assure you that they'll pay you back as soon as they're home in the United States. However, sending money only makes the situation worse. They give you excuses about why they never received it, and they need more. The cycle goes on forever! One Scambook member lost over $140,000 to someone who claimed to be a Norwegian working in Ghana. Another member was conned out of $300,000 by someone claiming to be an American in Nigeria, whose son was gravely ill. Both of these schemes played out over the course of several months or years. These cases may sound extreme, but sadly, they're not uncommon.

The best way to protect yourself from this type of online dating fraud is to learn the warning signs. Online dating can be a great way to meet new people, but you need to stay safe. When you're looking for love on the internet, follow these rules:

1. Never give your personal information or send money to someone you haven't met in person. It doesn't matter how sincere they seem, or how much they say they love you. Even if they send you photos, you can't be sure the person you're talking to is really who they say they are.

2. If your e-date refuses to meet you, they might be an e-dud. It's a huge warning sign if someone you meet online refuses to meet you, or if you make plans to meet but the other person keeps making excuses.

3. Stay local. Most online dating sites will allow you to limit your matches to your city or region. If you hit it off with someone who says they're in the military or temporarily working in another country or another state, put the brakes on your conversation and tell them to email you again when they're back home.

4. Once you learn someone's real name, look them up on Scambook and other sites. Often, fraudsters use the same online persona on different dating sites to exploit multiple people.

5. If you do meet someone in person, use common sense. Always meet someone for the first time in a busy public place, such as a restaurant or a city plaza.

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How to Dispute an Unauthorized Charge & Get Your Money Back

In today's Scambook Weekly Update, Kevan tells us how to dispute an unauthorized credit card charge with your bank or credit card company. He explains how a mysterious charge might show up on your monthly credit card bill as a result of identity theft, fraud or poor business practices and how your consumer rights allow you to dispute the charge. Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act, your credit card company can't hold you accountable for more than $50 for an unauthorized charge or any charges made when your Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Capital One credit card has been lost or stolen. In addition to unauthorized mystery charges, Kevan reviews some of the circumstances when you can legally dispute a credit card charge: if you didn't receive an item, if you received the wrong item, if you were charged multiple times for one item, if you were charged the wrong amount or if you returned an item but never received a refund from the merchant. Kevan also gives us important tips about how to contact your bank or financial lending institution, including why it's important to check your bank account and your bills every day, how long you have to report the charge and how to write a letter to your credit card company to properly resolve the issue.

In addition to the reasons mentioned by Kevan, there may be other circumstances when you can dispute a credit card charge. These reasons will vary depending on your state and the terms of service of your credit card. In accordance with the Fair Credit Billing Act, all monthly credit card statements are required to include a section called the billing rights summary. This is usually in the fine print on the back of your statement. The billing rights summary will explain when, why and how to dispute an unauthorized charge. It will include a mailing address for the credit card company as well as a customer service phone hotline. If you don't have your bill on hand, you can also find this information on the website you use to manage your account and the hotline number will be printed on the back of your card. It's the same number you need to call when your credit card becomes lost or stolen.

As Kevan states in the video, here are 3 Important Tips about how to dispute an unauthorized credit card charge:

Tip #1: Check your credit card account every day or as often as possible. If you do online banking, make this a daily habit. Many of us have a morning or evening internet routine -- check your email, check Facebook, check Scambook, read CNN, log into eBay to watch your online auctions, etc. Include your financial accounts in this routine. If you need help organizing your online credit card accounts, checking accounts and online bills, try the free site

If you don't want to pay unauthorized credit card charges, it's VERY important that you keep your eye on your online accounts and read the fine print on your monthly bill very closely. You only have 60 days to dispute an unauthorized credit card charge or your credit card company isn't legally required to cover the damages. This 60 day window begins from the first day that the charge appears, NOT from the first day you notice it. Some credit card companies may have a longer deadline, but the sooner you notice an unauthorized charge, the sooner you can dispute it and preserve your credit.

Tip #2: Write a letter to your credit card company describing the charge. If you use online banking to manage your credit card account, you may be able to dispute the charge by clicking a link on the bank's website, but the traditional way to dispute a charge is by writing a letter. The billing rights summary on the back of your monthly credit card bill will include a mailing address to write to. In your letter, include the precise amount of the charge that you're disputing and why you're disputing it. Be very detailed. If you have any documents to support your case, such as receipts or invoices, make copies and attach them to your letter as enclosures.

Tip #3: Submit a complaint on Scambook. We may be able to contact the company or individual that's charging you and get the issue resolved faster than your credit card company. Either way, once you open a dispute with your credit card company, you don't have to pay the amount you're disputing or any fees specifically associated with that amount until your dispute is resolved. But you are responsible for all other, legitimate charges, so make sure you pay the rest of your bill.

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Are you worried about being hacked? In this Scambook video, Kevan offers some quick easy tips on how to create a secure, unique online password that even your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend will never figure out. We know it can be difficult to remember a complex password with lots of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols and numbers, but we promise that it's worth the effort. You don't want a password that's too easy to guess or else someone may hack into your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Youtube, online bank or other internet accounts. Easy passwords can also lead to serious identity theft and other dangers. Surveys have shown that one of the most popular passwords is "password" -- don't be that guy or girl! 

This is Kevan's special trick for creating a secure, unique password. Instead of trying to remember a long combination of random characters, just think of a pass phrase like "please love me." Kevan uses upper and lowercase letters, substitutes numbers for letters and adds symbols for spaces. So "please love me" becomes "P!3a53*L0v3*M3." Whether you use Kevan's method or develop your own, it's vital that you follow these rules for creating a password:

1. Make your passphrase 8 characters or more. The longer, the better.

2. Don't use private personal info, dictionary words, addresses, pet names or other unique information like your favorite food. 

3. Don't use numbers that have meaning to you. NEVER use your birthday, Social Security Number, phone number, address, ATM PIN or your Driver's License number. Don't use numbers associated with your family or close friends, either, like your parents' wedding anniversary or your daughter's birthday. Someone else may know this info or be able to get it from your Facebook page. And don't use 12345678.

4. Don't ever use a password that's related to your screen name or user login. If your username is LennonFan, don't make your password Yoko Ono.

You should also use a different password for every website you join. That way, if someone DOES hack one of your passwords, they won't be able to access all your other accounts. We also recommend that you change your passwords every 3 months to stay extra safe.

For more online tips, fraud reports and other consumer issues that you need to know about, visit the Scambook blog:

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In this week's Scambook news video, Kevan discusses pet fraud. He points out that cute puppies and adorable kittens are at the center of fraud schemes targeting animal lovers on classified ad websites like Craigslist and PetFinder. He reviews how con artists exploit people looking for a specific breed, usually a pedigree American Kennel Club breed such as a bull dog, by offering puppies for a ridiculously low price. The crooks claim to be selling the puppy because they're moving. They also insist on shipping it -- and they need you to wire money upfront to cover the costs. Kevan explains that the victims of this scheme never see their money again, and they never receive their pet because the dog (or cat) doesn't exist. Finally, Kevan offers some tips to avoid these pet hoaxes, such as going to a local breeder in your area, researching the breeder, asking to see the puppy or kitten's papers or just adopting a rescue from your local animal shelter.

On Scambook, we've received hundreds of complaints against the different individuals running these schemes, with reported damages in the thousands. Members report that they see ads on Craigslist, Petfinder or other classified ads with pet sections. They find an ad for the exact animal they're looking for, and the seller is offering the puppy or kitten for a fraction of the official breeder price. Our members report that the seller explains this in their email; they have to sell the animal immediately because they're moving for a new job, being deployed or the puppy belonged to a recently deceased loved one and they don't have time to look after it. In fact, they're so pressed for time that they can't let you visit the animal in person before you buy it, or even pick it up from their home. They have to ship it to you. Be careful when looking for a pet online. You may be buying a puppy that doesn't exist!

While there are many legitimate pet shipping services, this fake pet seller will likely use one that you've never heard of. They'll also insist that you pay the shipping cost upfront, via Western Union or Money Gram wire transfer. Sometimes, they also need you to pay for pet travel taxes, vaccinations or other fees -- some of our members report that they were assured these fees would be refunded to them. Unfortunately, once our members wire the money, it's gone for good. They arrive at the airport to pick up their new pal and there's no purring kitty or tail-wagging dog to meet them. The pet they "bought" doesn't exist.

If you're thinking about buying a dog, cat or other pet on the internet, use extreme caution. We recommend the following safety tips:

1. Go local. If possible, get your pet from a seller or breeder in your area. Visit the pet and inspect it before you hand over any cash. Legitimate breeders will be happy to let you play with your puppy or kitten first, and they'll be helpful about answering any questions or concerns. In fact, many real breeders prefer to screen potential buyers to make sure their animals will go to a loving, responsible home. It's a huge red flag if someone selling a pet won't let you meet it first.

2. Research the seller or breeder.If he or she claims to be certified by the American When you're looking for a new four-legged addition to your family, it's always safer to go local. Meet the puppy or kitten in person before you buy it.

Kennel Club or another breed organization, verify it by contacting the group. You can also ask about the seller or breeder's reputation on online forums. And as always, look them up on Scambook.

3. Ask to see documents for the pet. If the seller or breeder claims that the puppy or kitten has show papers, or that it's had all its shots, get proof. If anything seems fishy, contact the breeder's organization and get in touch with their veterinarian.

And finally, don't forget about your local animal shelters! There are thousands of abandoned animals who need loving homes and are just waiting for the right person to adopt them. Mixed-breed animals are often healthier than purebreds, too. For more information, visit your local Humane Society or find an ASPCA chapter near you.

But until you find your purrfect pet, let Scambook be your watchdog! We'll help you out when things get ruff.

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Today, Kevan talks about diet product fraud. He explains that Americans spend over $40 billion a year on weight loss products and services, and the bad guys are trying to exploit this. Kevan tells us that shady diet pill companies often conduct their own studies, claiming consumers can lose unwanted pounds without diets or exercise. Then, Kevan mentions some of the keywords these fake products use: Acai Berry, Probiotic, Antioxidant, Organic and African Mango. He reviews some of the complaints Scambook has received about Lean Slim Ultra, Sensa Weight Loss, NutraScience and Organa Slim. Finally, Kevan talks about how Scambook users have been hit with unwanted monthly charges after ordering free trials of diet products and how some of these users have had to cancel their credit cards to make the charges stop. Kevan advises everyone to research products before ordering and check their bank account every day.

No one likes dieting. Whether you're trying to completely change your lifestyle or just drop a few inches to fit into your old vintage jeans, losing weight can be a difficult goal to accomplish. You may be too busy to exercise regularly or prepare healthy meals. Or maybe you've tried to get in shape, succeeded in losing a few pounds but your progress reached a plateau. You see a product that claims to boost your metabolism, target belly fat and help you lose weight -- without additional diet or exercise. Best of all, it's a free 30 day trial!

But according to Scambook members, the only thing that will get any skinnier is your wallet. And you'll get some exercise, after all -- an exercise in frustration. We've received hundreds of complaints about diet products since Scambook started, with reported damage totaling in the millions of dollars. 

As with fake free credit report sites, these diet pill offers frequently ask for your credit card information in order to process the "free" order. Then, users begin to see unwanted monthly charges on their bill. As it turns out, that "free trial" automatically signed you up for a paid subscription if you didn't cancel within a very short time period.

Our members missed this information because the companies peddling these pills or products are experts at false advertising and deception. When you see a television commercial for a diet pill, powder, bar or shake, it usually features customer testimony and claims backed by some sort of study. These "facts" are greatly manipulated. Customer testimonies are either falsified or exaggerated, and those studies are usually funded by the companies themselves.

Although a few of our members have reported feeling sick after taking diet pills, most of the complaints we receive on Scambook don't discuss whether the pills actually work. Sometimes, our members don't even receive their product. These companies usually don't have very good customer service, too. In extreme cases, our members have had to cancel their credit cards to get these charges to stop.

So don't let this happen to you! If you're thinking about ordering a diet product, follow these helpful tips:

1. Remember the old adage: if it's too good to be true, it probably is. That's one of our mantras here at Scambook. Make it yours, too. Research the product or company on Scambook, and check out its claims on health and fitness websites. You'll find that many of these magic pills promise the impossible. For example, weight loss occurs all over the body -- you can't target specific areas like belly fat.

2. If it's a free trial, READ THE FINE PRINT before you place an order. These days, many companies interpret the word "free" very loosely. Even if you're not automatically signed up for a paid monthly subscription, you may still discover that you've been charged an unexpected shipping and processing fee.

3. Make it a habit to check your bank account online every day, and read your credit card statement very carefully. Contact your financial institution as soon as you notice any suspicious activity.

4. If you need to lose weight, talk to your doctor first. Everyone's body is different and your doctor will be able to help you find a weight loss solution that's healthy, safe and effective based on your specific needs. You can also work with your doctor or another medical professional to design a plan that fits your lifestyle.

Getting in shape requires a lot of time and hard work. If you don't think you have time to exercise, you certainly don't have time to suffer through a customer service nightmare. We recommend that you avoid diet pills, special cleanses and other "miraculous" weight loss products.

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Kevan jumps into this week's video by talking about penny auctions. He discusses the difference between an auction site like eBay and penny auction sites by pointing out that you only pay for what you win on eBay. Kevan breaks down how the use of bid tokens and a refreshing timer by penny auction sites can often lead users to buy tons of bids but still lose an auction. He then reports that Scambook users have experienced not receiving items they won but still getting hit with all the fees and charges. Kevan advises everyone to stay away from penny auction sites and always do their research if they still want to try.

There's hardly any debate that so many consumers are always looking for the next hot deal or bargain. This is even more so as so many people in our country are still fighting through tough economic times. So, it should come as no surprise that penny auction sites have really burst through the gates over the last year.

Unfortunately, Scambook users have reported alarming experiences with penny auction websites. Users have filed over 600 complaints with over $65,000 in damages against and over 1000 complaints with roughly over $150,000 in damages against - just to name a couple of the more prevalent sites.

According to our user reports, some penny auction sites don't deliver items that are won fair and square in an auction. Sometimes, customer service even gives the excuse that there was a glitch in the system so the item in question was not actually won, but still charges the user for all of the bids that were used along the way.

Other Scambook users have reported signing up for what they thought were free trial accounts, but ended up getting charged up to $100 for bids without any way to opt out or be refunded. Some of these penny auction sites are indeed complete shams and will have no real customer service department, making it virtually impossible to find a live person to speak with, according to user reports.

"Virtually impossible" is an appropriate theme when it comes to taking a good hard look at penny auctions operate. Are there legitimate sites where you really can indeed win big-time items like a new 55-inch Samsung flat panel TV or a brand new Macbook Pro for pennies on the dollar?

Yes, there are.

Be that as it may, it still does not change the fact that these sites make money because people spend a ton of money on bids, refreshing the countdown clock for a penny at a time and virtually turning each auction into a game of roulette. It also does not mean in any way that you will be one of the lucky ones to nab big ticket items.

Don't forget, even if you appear to have won an item, you might not receive it due to a "glitch in the system."

We understand if you really can't resist the idea of potentially winning that new TV or laptop for next to nothing. We just hope you will remain diligent in doing your research first on Scambook and seeing what kind of experiences other people had before you engage any penny auction site.

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