The Better Business Bureau released a report Wednesday about a scam that is impacting thousands of people. Nebraska President and CEO Jim Hegarty says this one involves products that appear to be celebrity endorsed. He says people shopping online for the holidays are likely to encounter a pop-up ad from a celebrity endorsing some type of skin care product, lose weight, wrinkle cream, boost memory, solve sexual dysfunction and the list goes on and on.
Hegarty says, “People don’t read the fine print, even if the fine print is there and they think they are getting a week trial, a month’s trial and all they have to do is pay for shipping. When they pay for that shipping they are agreeing to have that product shipped to them month after month after month and have those charges reoccur on their cards. Once they get engaged in those deals it is super hard to get it stopped.”
Hegarty says stopping these companies is like “whack a mole”. Many are located in Florida. There has been some FTC action and a couple of these operations may be shut down. Most individuals are out a few hundred dollars so the threshold for government action is limited.
Even the celebrities are having a difficult time disassociating themselves from these scams. They have taken to social media to get let people know they are not endorsing the products.
Hegarty says anyone who is a victim to these scams should contact the BBB. He says they can compile that data and when local and state losses reach a certain point the government then can take action.
The number of calls to the BBB regarding these fake celebrity endorsed scams has doubled over the last two years. Hegarty says losses to consumers are estimated at $1.3 billion over the ten years.