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Rip-off Alert: Beware of charity phone calls asking for money

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 8/16/2013 8:32 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- The next time you get a phone call from a charity or a company claiming you owe them money, do some research first.

In this Rip-Off Alert -- one woman did just that and avoided being the victim of a scam.

“I had the proof and they knew it,” said Janet Leimenstoll, a target of a scammer.

Leimenstoll is serious and determined about not being a victim of scam artists.

“I had purchased years ago some products through the Disadvantaged Handicapped Workers, and I hadn’t bought anything from them in years and years,” Leimenstoll said.

Out of the blue, Leimenstoll got a call from someone who said they were from that charity saying she owed them money.

“I argued with him for a little while and he said it’s going to collections today if you don’t pay today,” Leimenstoll said.

Leimenstoll knew she didn’t owe any money, but she did feel pressured.

“They threaten you with sending you to court and they say it will cost you thousands of dollars in court fees so you start hearing thousands of dollars,” Leimenstoll said.

“People were told, 'You owe this money ... We are going to send it to a collection agency, and your credit will be ruined,' ” Leimenstoll said.

Leimenstoll paid them $150 – three times the cost of the original purchase because of late fees and fines.

“I was truly furious when I realized they were scamming me, but I didn’t quite know what to do at first,” Leimenstoll said.

She decided to do some investigating about the date she was told she bought the item. She ordered her phone records for the day.

“They sent me the entire month from that year, and I had no incoming or outgoing calls on that day,” Leimenstoll said.

Once she confirmed she never purchased any items, she called the company to get a refund.

“The lady was very mad. I said I have proof that I did not buy this. I have my phone records,” Leimenstoll said.

Leimenstoll got a full refund. Not everyone was so lucky. Postal inspectors say 150 to 200 victims lost tens of thousands of dollars.

“If someone calls you asking you to donate to a cause, have them send you some documentation through the mail so you can check it out,”  said U.S. Postal Inspector Kim Gordon.

Postal inspectors also have some advice.

“Never be pressured to make this decision on the phone right now. Any reputable company would be glad to send you documentation and let you take your time,” Gordon said.


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