Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Victims of scams recount their experiences

Sincerity Comes At A Price

From: Cathy Bacigalupi
Subject: Fundraising Marketer
Date: 21 May 2001

Have you heard of the "National Organizational Industries", based in Zephyr Hills Florida?  They squeezed $995 out of my son's bank by convincing him that the money was completely refundable and they only wanted it to prove that he could be "professional" and sincere in their training process.

Their premise is they pay commissions on "fundraisers" held by schools for products that the students sell to family and friends. I have demanded a refund but so far nothing.

Anyone with experiences with this company, please post on this site or e-mail experience to

This is a great site!  Keep up the good work.  We need more like you in this world.

Hi Cathy,

Just checking back even though I couldn't help much before.  Did you ever get your money back?  Did you find out more about the company or its methods of operation?  With a bit more background I can post this info to warn others but I need an idea of how it links to my site info.


Subject: Re: Fundraising Marketer
Date:  05 Sep 2001

Yes, I did get my money back.  It is a marketing company that asks for a $1000 "refundable" fee to prove that one is "sincere" about becoming a sales rep for them.

They state that they will refund the money once the rep has fulfilled all requirements of training which includes orchestrating several "fundraisers" for schools in which their catalog merchandise is sold by students with a percentage awarded to the schools.

I simply pointed out a little contract law to them and my funds were quickly refunded. Thanks for your interest. Once again, I have stressed to my son... if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck... it more than likely IS a duck!  I hope he finally gets it

Institutional Elder Fraud

To Someone who cares:

What can be done as far as a non-government-funded retirement residence (privately owned), where the owner has power of attorney over certain residents and the money is perhaps not being used to benefit the resident.

I've tried Revenue Canada, and the Regulatory Body for the elderly. No one seems to know what to do at this point, other than to contact the authorities. I find this a bit drastic, especially when you don't have concrete proof.

This establishment needs to be audited in detail from the very beginning for too many suspicious things have been going on for too long. If this can go on, how are we protected in the future from potentially fraudulent individuals such as these. I lost my job of almost three months there, likely  for asking too many questions. What can I do?  Where do I go?  How can I seek the truth?

Thank you.

Louise L.

Hi Louise,

Good questions on a topic I have yet to cover, institutional elder fraud.

Regardless of whether you have proof of fraud, I can think of no circumstances where a non-relative should have the POA for these people. As the Power of Attorney for a confused elder I understand the need to assume certain responsibilities to avoid problems, but your scenario has too great a potential for misuse, especially when no relatives are around to question discrepancies.

I would contact the police for their advice and also write to the agency responsible for retirement home licensing, if one exists. I will post this message in the hopes that someone has a better suggestion.


Hi again Louise,

I checked with the Attorney General of Ontario's Investigation Branch of the Public Trustee Section. While they only handle enquiries relating to abuse of trust, in cases where an individual is incapable of acting on their own and have no family, they did provide some info.

Apparently it is common for institutions to have a trustee relationship for payment processing of government cheques into a trust account for rent and such. This does not extend to their other finances unless they do have a Power of Attorney, which may or may not have restrictions on its use.  Lawyers and trust managers routinely have these so they may act on your behalf, even when you are mentally capable.

If this is the case they are responsible for keeping an accounting of transactions, all of which must be for the sole benefit of the grantor. Any abuse of this trust is deemed to be fraud or more accurately theft by a trustee and should be reported to police for investigation.

Further info on this abuse of trust, using Power of Attorney forms, can be found here.

The Ontario Residential Care Association has a complaint number for retirement home concerns at 800-361-7254. They may have the numbers for associations in other provinces as well.


Hi Les:

I'm in the process of getting some information and former staff together to discuss incidences that each of us have encountered. I have written, lets call it a petition of sort, a few pages discussing individual occurrences in which we have all witnessed or overheard at some point and time during our employment at the Residence. The intent is to have everyone sign the petition in hopes of an investigation. We will be meeting soon, and I will keep you informed.


Modeling School Mayhem

IMTA is over once again and the mail pours in. It continues to get worse. I got a letter from a kid this morning about his experiences including watching kids rip off their clothes at the dance and (my personal favorite), several agents holding a pot party with some "contestants" in the bathroom of his hotel room!!! 

He said he just invited some agents and kids up to his room for a final party and had no idea that the agents brought their own entertainment. He said he left until he thought they would be gone but when he got back to his room one of the agents asked him to be sure that one of the girls made her plane because she was too wasted to get there by herself!  

HELP!!!   Something has to be done and I don't know who else to contact. Do you have any ideas or know of any bulletin boards that I can post on? 

Thanks for your help.  Jeanne

Well Jeanne, apart from the Modeling Scams section on this site I am sort of relying on you and your site to document these problems in the world of modeling schools but will post an appeal for info from our viewers who may be aware of other bulletin boards and awareness sites.


Currency investment scam?

1/06/01   I am an attorney in Louisville, Kentucky.  Recently, two elderly people came to my office and gave me two checks, written to them by a company purporting to call itself "ITREX, Inc.. 

These two elderly people, a husband and a wife, had delivered $130,000 to ITREX, who had promised to invest it, for a good return, in the "currency exchange market."  

They began to suspect something was afoul, and demanded their money back. ITREX sent them two checks, totaling their total investment, but when they tried to deposit them, the checks came back.

They came to me, and I discovered that the account the checks were drawn on was closed. No one is returning messages at ITREX, and the internet page listed on the bottom of ITREX's letterhead ( definitely does not go to a currency exchange company. 

If anyone has any information on this company, or this type of operation generally, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Greg Butrum, Attorney at law. 502-581-6528

Dear Greg,

I tried a search of all the databases I have and came up empty on these people who use a real company's name for cover.  It certainly sounds like either, or both, a Prime Bank Scheme or Foreign Exchange Fraud, though it's hard to tell without more detail. I will post your message in the hope that a viewer will shed some more light on the company and the status of their convictions.


Dear Les,

I can use all the help I can get, but to be honest, I am afraid the people that came to me have simply been bilked out of a big part of their retirement. A friend of mine in the securities business also put out some feelers for this company, and like you came back with nothing.

He suggested I check the California secretary of state for corporate listings, and I will, but I doubt I get a hit and even if I do, it doesn't really mean anything. It costs about $100 to file an incorporation in most states, and an unscrupulous operator can do a lot of damage with that status. 

The FBI is working on this, I understand. My people were not the only one's who put money in and have lost. It's a very old scheme, generally. Get a lot of money out of people, send them a few hundred dollars now and again which you tell them is profit on the investment, all the while getting more and more people to put in, and when you've got a lot of money and people are getting suspicious, pull out and leave the corporate shell for everyone to sue.

The moral here is that at least with stocks you have a regulated industry with some oversight, and if you make sure the money goes into the right kind of bank, you can still have regular reporting on your funds, and insurance as well.

If I ever get anything good done on this, I'll let you know. By the way, if you ever need anything here in Louisville, Kentucky, don't hesitate to call.

Thanks, Greg.

Credit Card Cons


I just got finished looking at your website, and it was very educational.  I was scammed by a credit card company in North York, Ontario, Canada in October. They used the name U.S. Credit Services and ended up scamming me for $199 for a credit card that never came to me. 

Fortunately I contacted the BBB in Toronto and they put me in touch with PhoneBusters, I gave them my information and they informed me that it was indeed a scam.

Well, I was lucky and in one afternoon managed to get my money back. I tracked their bank account down through my bank and they credited it back to my account. I also had to change my bank account number, but at least I did get my money back on my own. Even though I got my money back, I'm still not satisfied. I want to see these people pay for what they did to me and thousands of other innocent people, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes.

Unfortunately, according to your website, it seems to be that this crime isn't considered to be very serious in Canada. I'm just curious as to why they can't be tried in the U.S. since they are dealing with U.S. citizens and their bank account is held in a U.S. bank. I don't know if you know anything about this, but if you do I would love to hear from you.

Thank you,


For info on Credit Card Offer Scams go here.

Hi Les,

I recently received a come-on from a company that advertised it's credit card insurance services that I believe was a scam, although I am not positive. Frankly, I didn't trust the offer though.

In large print they promised me a new credit card with a limit of up to $5,000 if I just signed up for their services.

The way it worked was they sent me a check for $3.75. My acceptance of the offer was conditional upon me signing and depositing the check and putting the number of the credit card I wished to insure on the back of the check.

The $3.75 represented the first month's payment for the credit card insurance and I would be billed on the credit card I specified for any additional month's insurance.

The price of the insurance after the first month was unspecified and in the fine print underneath it all, it said that they would send me an application for a credit card, not an actual credit card as it stated in the header.

They also promised me a credit report, as an additional come-on. My guess is that this offer is fraudulent, and is at the least dishonest by offering one thing in large print and another altogether in the fine print. I hope that you will publicize this scheme on your site so that others might not be suckered into it.

Thanks, Dan Hodges

For info on Credit Card Insurance Scams go here.

One of Five Prizes

Dear Les:

Eight and a half years ago in early 1992, I was a student a the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. (I now live in Honolulu, Hawaii.)  I could really have done much with some money, so I allowed a telemarketing firm that does businesses "promotions" to sucker me out of at least $400!

How this worked:  a telemarketer for the marketing firm called me along with several thousand other "suckers" and told me that I was guaranteed one of five supposedly valuable prizes. One was a car, a choice of his or her watch, a hi-fi stereo set, a trip to Hawaii (or some other exotic place), or $5,000 in cash. However, I had to try out one of their products. I had to choose one or the other: $500 of cosmetics, or $400 supply of vitamins. I chose the vitamins.

The "prizes" were chosen at random a month later. I was told that I had won the watch. However, when the watch arrived, I found out that it was worth about only $25 instead of $500 or whatever!

The marketing firm that pulled off this scam was called American Premier Marketing. The company they were doing the "promotion" for was Sierra Pacific and Legacy.

Four years later the people--including me--who were ripped off, were awarded compensation in cash. But only to the tune of 6% of what we originally lost!

Did anyone else who has written to you get conned by this scam?

Barbara Rainey
Honolulu, Hawaii
Oct 11/00

Hi Barbara,

Although no one has written about that particular incident the process is all too familiar. In fact, I fell for it myself as a retail store owner when I bought some promotional pens which looked like they were from the fifties, just so I could also pay a high price for shipping and handling and insurance for my valuable prizes.

The elegant watch, "as seen on Wheel of Fortune", faded from gold to tin within weeks of wearing it. I couldn't even tell my wife that it contained "diamonds" for she wouldn't have believed me without an electron microscope. The Magnavox stereo system ended up being a featherweight ghetto blaster that would be laughed out of any ghetto. It didn't even work beyond the tinny and crackly radio portion.

I can not divulge what I paid for this crap, as my wife might just read this and have my head even though it was years ago. But I was lucky. Seniors get taken for their life savings using the same techniques as shown in the Sweepstakes section of this site. One of Five Prizes


Nor A Lender Be

Readers have written in asking what to in cases where you get stiffed by someone you personally know and trusted, only to find that they are a deadbeat, a con, a fraudster. You lend them money and they never pay you back. They never intended paying you back. They dump you, then go on and do the same to the next trusting soul. They move around, you can’t find them. They never seem to have a job, yet always have money. Someone else's.

The police are far from interested, except to charge you for harassment if you try to locate them through their family members or if you accost them verbally at a chance encounter. You have documentation, such as bounced checks or promissory notes, to back up your claim, but how do you enforce it without even greater expense, only to find they have no tangible or recoverable assets?

They would never stoop to having wages from a steady job to garnishee. You want revenge, if not reimbursement. Not that they care about their good name, but can you ruin it? Can you affect their credit rating with a file notation?

Can you claim fraud and have them charged? Can you get a judgment in small claims court? How do you enforce it? Can you give your claim to a collection agency for satisfactory action? What does a skip tracer cost? Can you hire a bounty hunter to rough them up?

How do you seize assets? If collateral is assigned to you along with someone else afterwards, who has rightful claim to it? In one case a woman was given a promissory note with a van as collateral.

The fraudster then borrowed again from another person using the same collateral. That person, presumably after discovering his true nature, had her lawyer recover the van leaving the first person without anything to recover. Is this legal?  Who has rightful claim?  Is possession truly nine/tenths the law?

Answers to these questions should come from people like yourselves, people who have lived through this and had some measure of success, or professionals who deal with these matters daily. Your comments and suggestions will be of immense benefit to other viewers, so please write in.

Hi, my name is Jo.

I can't believe how stupid I was.  My husband passed away a year and a half ago. After his funeral,  a couple who lived in our complex befriended me and told me I was like family to them, a sister that they loved more than their own. 

Little did I know, what they were doing was softening me up for the big kill. I was and still am devastated by the love of my life not being here. They brought me food, got a key to my condo, got me a job, came with me to get a pet from the shelter (the only good thing that came from the relationship).

Then the hook.. I ended up giving him $50,000 for his company, a 5% interest in his company. I was to get a dividend check from this $5 million company on a quarterly basis. You can guess the rest. NADA.

So far I have contacted the Attorney General's Office,  and the District Attorney's Office,  both said it was not in their jurisdiction. They both told me to see an attorney. At the consultation I had with an Attorney he told me to see the Attorney General's and the District Attorney's office.

A Catch-22 if you ask me. I really don't know what to do at this point.

It's now Tuesday, his bankruptcy hearing is Thursday. I  really don't think anyone can help at this time. I just wanted to warn any other widows or widowers not to trust anyone with their retirement fund.

I know it will be hard. About two weeks after the funeral no one calls, no one cares. My phone did not ring once in three weeks. So like an idiot, I let them take me.

The price of kindness is sometimes steep.

Dear Les,

I was just on my way out the door to file a proof of claim against the bankruptcy. I also am filing a claim with the State Security Division today. Yesterday. I filed a claim with the SEC division of the Federal Government. I need some kind of closure, so I can get on with my life.

Thanks for your concern. Thanks for understanding what I am going through.


Dear Les.

Thank you for remembering. The bankruptcy was a no go for me. The scum owes the IRS $124,000.00 and a bank $530,000.00.

The bank loan was a secured loan, so that puts me out in left field. However, the bankruptcy trustee, told me in no uncertain terms to pursue the matter with the Securities Exchange Commission and with the Federal Government SEC.

The local SEC is making an inquiry into the matter, and the scum has 21 days to respond to the inquiry. As a matter of fact, while I was responding to your e-mail, I received a call from the Sec of States office as to his address, so I won't know for at least another 21 days, if, this inquiry will result in an investigation.

I'll keep you posted as to what happens. Any and all thoughts on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Jo