Examples of Mail Order Scams

After spending the last few months investigating certain types of mail order businesses, it was obvious that some of them were borderline questionable, if not a verifiable scam.

Example 1

Collect names for us. We pay $20 each. Guaranteed!

The truth is, this company WILL pay you $20 for each name you collect for them. What they DON'T tell you is that each person has to spend $100 or more by placing an order before you get your $20.

The customer is led to believe that all they have to do is get out their phone books and start sending the company names and addresses. In return, the company will send them $20 for each name and address they send them. When they send away for the details they discover the scam and think everybody in mail order is operating this way. Result: Mail order is labeled as a scam and illegal business activity.

Example 2

How to get 100,000 people to send you $10 each. Send $10 to...

This is cute advertising, but you have to put a legitimate product behind claims like this. One of the materials I found was a book with this title. And you get the book for sending $10 to the publisher. Some so-called seasoned pros will abruptly judge this as a scam. To some extent, these people are not pros. They're just jaded. For mail order neophytes, this is very intriguing. Besides, it only costs $1 to find out. What the beginner finds out is that they are expected to run the same ad in newspapers and tabloids. Other people will send $1 for information and their mailbox is "supposedly" flooded with $1 bills. This ad is NOT illegal. It asks you to send $1 for information and you DO get the information.

These types of ads are all a bunch of paper-passing, and I classify them under the heading of a "Legitimate Scam." You can't complain that your order was not filled. You can't complain the idea is not possible. You can't complain the ad promised something it didn't deliver.

Likewise, do not confuse scam-sounding ads with legitimate lead-generation ads." A mail order buddie of mine will run an ad that states: "Want to make a lot of money? Call (his telephone number.)" This is NOT necessarily a scam or rip-off. Since there is no cost involved, it might be worth your time and effort to call the number and see what this dealer has to offer.

Also, some dealers run ads that don't tell you what the product is because they have an entire package of information they want to send you. It would be too costly to advertise the complete information in a small 1" or 2" ad, so they run "Lead-Generating Ads" to bring them inquiries. This is also not illegal and is common business practice. You'll also find that real "Lead-Generating Ads" DON'T ask you for a lot of money up front. They only tell you enough about the product to entice you to send in a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) or $1 for more information. They are unlike the "Example 2" at the left that basically tell you the scam before you order it! (It may take a little time for you to make the distinction between these fine lines.)

Many people overlook the power of the printed word. Instead of complaining, people should be writing their mail order publishers when they are ripped-off, providing them with documentation and a summary of these mail order scams.

Use wisdom. Get your facts straight. Have documentation to back-up your findings and submit them! Wouldn't it be great if everybody in the world were honest? What a wonderful world this would be!

Related Articles

A Short Course in Mail Order Fraud

When the mail is used to intentionally misrepresent a product or service it constitutes Mail Fraud. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is charged with investigating violations of the law, usually in response to consumer complaints.

The Free Credit Card Trap

They arrive in your mail - a conspicuous looking mail piece from some "official looking" bank claiming that you have been Pre-Approved for a MasterCard or VISA credit card.

What to Do when You're a Crime Victim

The 911 telephone system is standard nationwide to enable callers to reach emergency services by phone with a minimum of difficulty. If you have an emergency involving the safety of life or property, you are encouraged to make use of the system.

Envelope Stuffing Scams

It seems like every mail order publication has at least one ad in it promising hundreds of dollars a week, just for stuffing envelopes. Some even promise to pay $4 or $5 per envelope stuffed!

Swindlers are Calling

But wherever honest firms search for new customers, so do swindlers. Phone fraud is a multi-billion dollar business that involves selling everything from bad or non-existent investments to the peddling of misrepresented products and services.

Big Mail Order Scams Explained

No matter how hard anyone tries, mail order scams existed in the past, they exist now and they will continue to exist into the future.

Chain Letters and Pyramid Schemes - Why They Don't Work

If you are active in mail order, you've no doubt seen tons of chain letters and pyramid programs. In case you're not familiar with them, here's an overview, so you know what to watch out for.

Hidden Truths about Legitimate Scams

What's a legitimate scam? It's a scam that delivers the product or service it claims to but the customer is still left with nothing!

Popular Con Games and How to Recognize Them

The object of any con game is to cause you to part with your money or other thing of value. Most con games are initiated by people who approach you on the street or call on you at your home.

Beginners Take Notice

Would you send Sears $20 and expect them to know you were ordering without you specifying it in your order form? Would you send your electric company a check for $15 and expect them to know what account you were making a payment on?