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 scambusters.org 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: Yahoo.com 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. Yeah Kids

    Don't believe all that "Santa elf reindeer" conspiracy theory. Your parents charged those presents to their card, not some phony "North Pole".

    December 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    Who ever falls for these scams probably deserves what they get. There is no free lunch or "Money for nothing and Chics for free"

    December 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. santas helper 1

    @yeah kids I am sorry that we never made anything for you that might have been because you wernt a nice person but you have interupted me from doing santas work to respond to your lie that theres no santa ,so you wouldnt ruin little kids christmas

    December 8, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Todd C

    She paid $60 and got a $60 set of pots and pans. Sounds like a reasonable deal.

    December 8, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. F1

    Heck i payed 125 for a set of mountaineering cookware and scored! Oh thats because i bought on site. Good idea

    December 8, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SANTA

    Your mom and dad got divorced because you were naughty. Thats why Im not bringing you anything. Your parents will have to pay for your toys because you were bad this year.

    December 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Herbie the Elf

    Uh, Yeah Kids, what difference does it make how those parents get their kids get their presents? You sound like the Grinch, trying to kill the Christmas Spirit. MYOB!

    December 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WAKE-UP

    WHEN ARE THE INTERNS GOING TO LEARN U HAVE TO CRAWL BEFORE YOU WALK!

    December 8, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Caveat Emptor.

    December 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. zelda

    That is if the buyer uses caution in the first place!

    December 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. hale

    Santa is fun

    December 8, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BOMBO

    One rule of thumb I've always had, is I don't buy from people who come to me. I go to them, hopefully after I've done some research if it is a big ticket item. But I don't buy from people who come to me unannounced, either in person or via e-mail. This applies to charities too.

    December 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BOMBO

    Christmas conspiracy theories:

    1- Santa, being German, was a Nazi.
    2- The elves are invariably gay.
    3- Christmas was invented by Jewish merchants to dupe Christians out of their hard earned money.
    4- Tinsel is edible.
    5- The turkey is not a real animal. It was engineered by the CIA and contains mind altering pharmaceuticals. Among the side effects are drowsiness and alcohol craving.
    6- They do not celebrate Christmas in Australia. The seasons are reversed, so they celebrate 4th of July. Also, they are upside down so they need to walk on their hands all winter.
    7- Santa is an alien. He can read your MIND.
    8- Reindeer are good to eat, and that is why it is illegal to shoot flying reindeer on Christmas eve. The rest of the year, it's open season. Go for it.
    9- It is bad luck to give knives as gifts, especially if the person you are giving them to has served time in prison.
    10- Santa is a robot. See Futurama.

    December 8, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Curious

    Bad Santa is my favorite movie because it more realistic than any yuletide movie ever made. Bah Humbug.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. F1

    Nicol SAIDĂ€ attention! We have a possible dangerous individual on these blogs the name is COYOTE he has been making threats towards an old blogger named roadsniper, his threats are disturbing at least, stating that the coyotes after you, if he catches you your thru! We all have a right to feel safe on these blogs. They are coming from back east, this guy needs to be stoped can you respond as before swiftly well be intouch please e mail me again thank you very much.i will be waiting for some action asap!!!!

    December 9, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
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