Beware of holiday scams
Mary Ferring thought she bought an expensive set of cookware online for a cheap price, but all she got was cheap cookware.
December 8th, 2011
06:27 PM ET

Beware of holiday scams

'Tis the season for scams. Consumer protection advocates are again sending out warnings of scam artists preying on the gullible, greedy and hurried this holiday season.

"I couldn't believe the deal," said shopper Mary Ferring, recalling some cookware she saw on the Internet. “It looked like it was worth about $400 or $500 and the cost was $60."

Suffering through tight economic times, Ferring was searching the Web for good gifts and great prices when she found what appeared to be expensive set of cookware for an incredibly low price. What she got in the mail after she made the purchase, however, was cheaply made tin pots and pans that she equated to a camping mess kit.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Jim Roope)

"I wouldn't give this to anybody,” Ferring said. Though she wanted to return the set, she found no return address on the label and no contact information on the site from which she purchased it.

“Her story is all too common,” said Audri Lanford, who founded in 1994. "The fact that she actually got something in the mail is unusual. Most of the time, people don’t get anything when they send their money in."

Many scams operate during the holidays. Consumer protection people point to the "12 Scams of Christmas." Here are those scams, and some tips to avoid them:

Fake holiday jobs: Most of these are work-from-home jobs. If a bogus employer asks for money up front or your Social Security number, you could be a potential scam victim.

Fake charities: Never give money to any charity without checking them out first. Whether they come to your door or approach you in the mall parking lot, ask for credentials and information and tell them you’ll consider it later.

Check scams: This usually involves cashier’s checks. Someone who wants to buy your merchandise will offer to pay for more than your asking price, on the condition that you return the difference. Weeks later, you find out from your bank that the check was a fake, and you’re now without your money and your merchandise.

Counterfeit merchandise: Street vendors may sell fake watches, purses and other items that appear to be high-end, name-brand merchandise.

Fake vacation rentals: This involves advertising property that the advertiser doesn’t own.

Non-delivery of merchandise bought online: Self explanatory. Make sure you check out the website from which you are buying the merchandise or check out the company.

E-mail scams: These start with an e-mail that invites you to do something or looks like a directive from your bank. They also could tout fake lotteries or other fake contests, and fake charities.

Phishing scams: In these scams, e-mails that appear to come from a legit company contain a link that send you to a website where you're asked to enter personal information. The site, run by a scammer, is designed to look like that of a legitimate business.

Items-off-of-a-truck scams: explains this as a roving gang of scammers masquerading as delivery men. They pull a truck up in a parking lot, then say that they can sell you something cheap, like speakers or electronics, implying that it’s stolen. At best, the goods will be low-quality knockoffs. At worst, you could be receiving stolen goods.

Limited quantities: An online scam in which a merchant offers supposedly great products at unbeatable prices. But when you place your order, you’re told they have a limited number, and to get the deal, you have to buy several of the items.

Bait and switch: And old and still effective scam. You buy one thing but receive quite another.

Gift card scams: Gift cards can be tampered with, Landford said. Scammers, with special software, can find validated cards with money on them and then spend the money before the unsuspecting victim has a chance to try to spend it.

(Click the audio player to hear the complete story)

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Filed under: Consumer safety • Crime
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Thank you for your list of Christmas conspiracy theories.
    My favorite?
    Tinsel is edible, followed closely by the CIA engineered turkey..
    So *that's* why I get drowsy after dinner! And here I thought it was the boring football games on the telly.

    December 9, 2011 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. BOMBO

    Bad Santa. Yes. And Christmas Vacation. Throw in the season 2 and 3 Futurama Christmas episodes, the Sponge Bob Christmas, and the Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special, and I'm set for my Christmas viewing.

    December 9, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. BOMBO

    As long as coyote doesn't get anything delivered from Acme, I'd say he's all talk.

    December 9, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Yes. I've seen a couple posts from "coyote."

      December 9, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. gung hoe

    Ahhh whats wrong F 1 dont saida like you or are you to ignorant to have some fun Im sure the coyote might lift and dinkle all over you F1 or is it roadsniper

    December 9, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      The coyote will be banned if they keep it up.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    @ Fl yea we do have a right to feel safe on these blogs, unfortunately the lil punks sayin the rude, crude and socially unacceptable things still manage to have their say as was displayed yesterday. As was saw yesterday! Not much can be done with em tho!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    yea its hurtful, disheartening and mean, but nicole saidi is doing the best she can by deleteing those comments. Shes not a miracle worker, she cant prevent them. Best to report em if your able than ignore them!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    And for the record those of us that have been posting for along time can tell you, roadsniper was one of the worst offendors, so i for one feel no sympathy for him now!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. chrissy

    And i know just by having said this much im setting myself up for all the attacks about my mentally handicapped child. That may make it easier for cnn and nicole saidi to catch the jerk or jerks so guess it will be worth it in the end!

    December 9, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. David Fitzgerald

    It makes me sick to think of all these bad people out there willing to do things like this to good people. Too many bad people in this world. If we were more strict in our laws, we would get less of this. I say death to all scammers. I'm sure you'd see a few less if the penalty was death.

    December 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bobcat (in a hat)

    You actually don't have to do anything to set yourself up. These individuals go after anything and everything.

    December 9, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bobcat (in a hat)


    I just about have to agree with you on that altered turkey.
    Look at that multi-legged bird they bring out after the football game on thanksgiving.

    December 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. F1

    We need to keep pressure on coyote! This guys super creep!!! As for chrissy ive got a lot of time in the evening to chase this super creep down , and if hes going to attack you disabled child, will its all over for him on these blogs please keep in touch.all of the good people need to keep it tight and keep up pressure ,so talk to all soon ,keep it tuff!!!

    December 10, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. hamsta

    i wonder how many of the scammers are occupy protesters.they remind me of that guy in the parking lot trying to make me buy his bootleg movies.when they try that feel sorry for me routine and beg for change i give them a job funny how fast u can get rid of them then.out of a couple thousand ive handed out maybe 15 got turned back in.then theres the king of all scammers obama.hes hoping he can steal all my change out my pocket.

    December 10, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. hamsta

    @crissy im sorry to hear about ur disabled child.if someone where to pick on him i think i would have to throw them off a bridge so they know what its like.i got knocked off a container ship and fell 30 feet.i shattered my rib cage fractured my skull 2 vertebrae and my hip.for 6 months i had to have people do the simplest things for me cuz my arms just wouldnt work.all ur arm muscles attach to ur rib cage.i couldnt even twist a better now but i had to learn new ways of doing things.i wish him luck with overcoming his disability.

    December 10, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. equifax free credit report contact

    One more thing. I believe that there are lots of travel insurance web-sites of dependable companies that permit you to enter your vacation details and acquire you the insurance quotes. You can also purchase your international travel insurance policy on-line by using your credit card. Everything you should do is usually to enter all travel details and you can see the plans side-by-side. Merely find the package that suits your capacity to pay and needs after which it use your credit card to buy it. Travel insurance online is a good way to start looking for a trustworthy company to get international holiday insurance. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    November 11, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
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