Scam Emails Archive : Generic

Subject: Scamdex, Internet Scambusters Newsletter #310, 11-19-08

From: "Scambusters Editors" <>

This email with the subject "Scamdex, Internet Scambusters Newsletter #310, 11-19-08" was received in one of Scamdex's honeypot email accounts on Wed, 19 Nov 2008 01:01:44 -0800 and has been classified as a Generic Scam.

The sender was "Scambusters Editors" <>, although it may have been spoofed.


Internet Scambusters (tm)
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Scambusters Audri, Jim and Keith
Issue #310  November 19, 2008


Note 1: Easily change your subscription information by
clicking the link at the very bottom of this newsletter.

Note 2: Please share this newsletter with 3 or 4 of your
friends or colleagues who you think will benefit from it.

Hi Scamdex,

Today we focus on rebate scams. They come in a variety of

- Manufacturers and retailers who make it incredibly difficult
(or impossible) to claim the refunds they offer.

- Phony work-at-home projects labeled "rebate processor."

- Con artists who try to fool you into handing over your tax

We've previously covered tax rebate scams in depth. This week,
we look at the first two sorts of tricks and show you how to
avoid them.

First, we're so excited to tell you that we've just launched a
brand new guide on how to create unique, memorable photo
Christmas cards -- quickly and easily...

If you'd like your friends and family to say "WOW" when they
receive your Christmas card this holiday season, this is for
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our new guide here:

Remember, it's our products that keep Scambusters free. :)

Next, we urge you to take a look at these top articles from
our other websites:

Answers to 7 of the Biggest Questions About Food Photography:
An Interview With Ron Goldman

Deconstructing Four Classic Thanksgiving Myths

Photo Editing is a Snap!

Balance Transfer Credit Card Mistakes To Avoid

And now for the main feature...

Inside the Murky World of Rebate Scams

The business of refunding money to customers -- whether it's a
check from the IRS, a payback for something you bought or a
job processing the payments themselves -- is a magnet for the
criminal or disreputable practices we call rebate scams.

We've dealt extensively with tax rebate scams (and more
general IRS tax scams) in past articles, so this week we're
concentrating on the other two types of rebate scams --
refunds for purchases and phony work-at-home processing jobs.

By now, we're all familiar with both of these "come-ons":

* It's rare to see a store advertisement -- especially in the
electronics field -- that doesn't offer super bargain prices,
provided you successfully claim a rebate, often mentioned only
in the small print.

* And the Internet -- both through online ads and spam emails
-- is teeming with supposed lucrative opportunities to earn
thousands of dollars a week processing rebate claims. They
imply these are the very same rebates the stores are offering.
But it's a lie...

Rebate scam #1: A maze of tricks and hurdles to fool you

Wow, what a bargain! You see that computer program or piece of
equipment you want for just a fraction of the price you
thought you'd have to pay.

But, hold on. On closer inspection, the ad says something like
"after rebate." So you have to pay the full price, complete a
rebate form and only then will you make your savings -- if
you're lucky.

In fact, manufacturers and retailers offer to pay back an
estimated $4 billion a year to customers this way. But what
they don't tell you is that hundreds of millions of that
amount -- perhaps up to 40% of it -- is never paid.


Because some of them have used every trick in the book, from
simply ignoring the rebate claims to making it darn near
impossible to qualify. Several big names on Main Street and
the Internet have been scolded or even punished by the Federal
Trade Commission for doing this.

But rebates are such a clever marketing tool that they're too
attractive a deal for manufacturers, retailers and even
buyers to ignore. That's why they've quadrupled in notional
value in the past 8 years.

Of course, it's true to say that most rebate schemes are
legitimate. And in many cases (more so with manufacturers than
with retailers) they operate fairly and do pay out.

But, when you think about, the underlying idea is to avoid
paying at least some of the purchasers.

Here's a simple case: You must have seen ads advertising a
product as "free after rebate." Well, if everyone got their
rebate, there'd be nothing for the manufacturer or the store,
would there? They'd lose out -- and that's not usually the plan.

They count on customers either not claiming or disqualifying
themselves from getting the rebate. There are lots of ways
this happens. For example:

- The rebate form is not easily accessible -- it may be posted
separately or obscurely online for just a few days -- or you
may lose it.

- You simply forget to complete it and/or mail it.

- You make a mistake when completing it. Some tricksters have
been known to insist a certain color ink or block capitals
must be used. Others insist you circle the price on the
accompanying receipt. Miss these and you could be sunk.

- You have to provide a bar code from the box -- but you
already threw it in the trash. Even worse, they ask you to
provide a bar code from a previous product you bought years

- You miss the deadline for submitting your claim. Sometimes
rebate offers seem to be open for months but the small print
says you must submit your claim within a very tight time frame.

- The check they send you must be banked by a certain date.
Miss that date and the check is void. You have no comeback.

- The offer may involve filling in multiple rebate forms --
three is not unusual -- all requiring different bits of
evidence. A tiresome process aimed at putting you off.

- The offer imposes some sort of restriction on who can claim
-- such as insisting that you must have bought the product
from a particular retailer and have not claimed a previous

- The rebate processor simply doesn't pay unless and until you
chase them for payment. Sometimes they don't pay at all,
saying they didn't receive your claim and refusing to accept
copies as evidence.

These obstacles vary in terms of whether or not they are truly
scams. Some are clearly perfectly lawful. And we recognize
that companies need to put limits on rebates. However, when
companies offer rebates as lure with no intention of paying
out, then they are rebate scams.

With all these pitfalls, many people may think it's not worth
buying on the basis of getting a rebate. And they may be
right. But there are plenty of people who do use them and do
get their money.

Here are 8 simple tips to follow to reduce the risk of falling
victim to rebate scams:

- Make sure you get the rebate form. At a store, it should
come with the receipt or be in the box; otherwise, ask for it.
If you're purchasing online, make sure you download and print
the rebate when you buy.

- Read the small print to make sure you qualify. If the deal
is online, you can often download and print the form before

- Make a note of any dates: When the form must be submitted,
how long the claim takes to process (note this on your
calendar), the date you mail it.

- Don't throw away any packaging until you've completed the
form and ensure you follow all the rules, including enclosing
requested items. Copy and file each one.

- If the rebate is substantial, consider buying delivery
confirmation with your mailing.

- You may be able to track your claim online. You can find out
who is processing the rebate here.

- If payment doesn't arrive, contact the rebate processor
(usually a separate company from the manufacturer or people
you bought from). Their number will be on your copy of the
claim form.

- If payment still doesn't arrive, file a complaint with the
FTC and your state Attorney General.

Rebate scam #2: Become a claim processor. Or not.

You've seen the ads. Now learn the lie. We believe
work-at-home rebate processing jobs are scams. Period.

It's true that manufacturers and retailers who offer rebates
to their customers use third party firms to process the

Here's how it works: You make the claim and send it to the
processor; the processor approves it or not and notifies the
original rebate offerer, who then either sends you the money
direct or sends it to the processor to forward to you.

But we can find no example of any of the major processors
employing people at home to do this work for them. In the
main, they are huge operations staffed by full-time, trained
and experienced clerks (the ones who know how, when necessary,
to disqualify your claim!).

The ads you see offering rebate processing work-at-home jobs
imply this is what you'll be doing and they often charge a
hefty fee (usually about $200) for "training." But what
they're really selling is, well, selling.

When you've paid, you get a guide telling you how to set
yourself up as an affiliate or agent for products being sold
on the Internet. Then, you're supposed to offer a rebate for
these products to encourage people to buy through you.

Here's the first catch:

The purchase payment goes to the actual retailer, not you, but
you have to pay the rebate and then wait for your commission.

For example, you offer a product for $40 with a $10 rebate
using a certain code. The customer goes to the actual seller's
site, pays $40 but keys in your code to get the rebate. The
seller sends the information to you and you send the customer
their 10 bucks.

So far, you're $10 out. The seller than pays you a commission,
which, hopefully, is more than that $10!

This all might work in theory except for one expensive
problem: How do you let people know about you and your rebate
offer? Answer: advertise it. And that usually costs money.

At the end of this process, it's easy to see how most people
who fall for these rebate scams finish up out of pocket. In
truth, very few manage to sell anything.

The Internet is full of blogs and other websites full of tales
of woe from people who've fallen for the trick.

To make things worse, some of these very same sites, while
purporting to highlight rebate scams, then go on to offer
their readers a technique that "really works." But it's just a
variation of the same trick.

Strictly speaking, these scheme promoters are usually not
breaking the law. If you do what they say and if it works
(highly unlikely!) you will actually be processing rebates!
But, it's highly misleading.

There are many more work-at-home scams. We highlighted the
biggest ones in these articles.

There are also plenty of legitimate programs -- things that
really work. But the bottom line, even for the legit programs,
is that none of them will make an easy fortune for you. So
stay clear of the ones that make promises that are too good to
be true.

That's all we have for today, but we'll be back next week with
another issue. See you then!

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