Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Stories from scam victims

The More You Lose The Better
No Tom, Dick or Harry Wanted

Making Life Miserable

From: Gilbert Guaderrama
Subject: MLM Inquiry
Date: 02 Apr 2001

I think your website is very informative. I've been interested in MLM's for quite sometime, but I get really confused with so many so called opportunities available today.

With so many companies on the web today, it's hard to tell which are legit. There is one company I'm interested in and I would appreciate your comments on it if you have some time. It's called "Retire Quickly".

The website address is:   www. It's supposedly chaired by a Mr. Steve Reese, a financial planner out of Florida. If you believe it's a good plan, please let me know.

Thanks, Gilbert G.

As it is up to the authorities to charge and convict pyramid schemes I can not voice an opinion on this "opportunity". You should determine whether it meets all of the standard requirements under the definition of such things.

I use for finding background info on different topics and sites. Do a search for pyramid schemes on my site and check out the internet pyramid scheme section for details. I don't cover current operations but does.

You will soon see a similar vein in all such operations, though once again I do not endorse or condemn such concerns and leave it up to authorities to finally get around to it. Do not waste your money before doing some more research.


Your Search Is Over

Hi - I did a quick search of your site and since I didn't find this particular outfit, thought you'd be interested in adding it to your site.

Please see letter below I sent to

Hi - Just letting you know I received a call last night from First Financial Network claiming to offer an unsecured Visa card with a lifetime 0% APR and no late charges for a fee of $219.95 from my checking account.

When I asked for them to mail something to me so I could look it over, I was informed, "We don't do that".  When I asked them to e-mail me instead, again I was told, "We don't do that", whereupon I told them that if I could not have written confirmation of their offer, I wasn't interested, and ended the call.

At the beginning of this dialog, I was told that they had found out on-line that I had applied for a Visa card and wouldn't I like to have a Visa card that reported to all major credit bureaus.  Then they asked if I was interested, if I was over 18, and if I had over $800.00 a month in income.   Then they wanted my checking account number to withdraw the funds, with a promise of an unlimited line of credit for all time.

Since this is obviously a scam, I am reporting this to you and asking you to remove my telephone number from your lists.  I would like to receive e-mail offers but not telemarketing calls.

Jessica Smithson

For more info on such Credit Card Offers.

The More You Lose The Better

24 May 2001

I love your site.  I haven't had a chance yet to thoroughly digest it, but your writing is great.

I'm a CPA who, for the last eleven years, has worked with several hundred people of the possibly 3,000 victims who were defrauded by Walter J. Hoyt, III, using cattle partnerships as investments. The brilliance of his scheme, however, was that the investors used their tax money to fund his operations.

Continued at Partnerships.

No Tom, Dick or Harry Wanted

30 May 2001

I thought you might like to add this to your archive of scams and fraudulent sweepstakes files. Man your site is great!  I actually did call when I saw the email below but when I heard the girl on the other end I got a little sketchy so I bailed.... researched and found your site.

Thanks to your site... I still well, have almost no savings... but that's not your fault.... but it does make me feel better that I have close to nothing when I read that these scams can rob you of your life savings.

Thank you for creating this site, I am going to definitely add it to my favorites. To think people try to get away with the most unbelievable stuff... and most of the time they do.


From: "Important Phone Call"
Subject: Do you know these people?
To Whom it may concern:We're trying to reach Jeffrey, Chad, and Suzanne. If you know them, tell them to call us immediately at the toll free number listed below.


The private code for the three people is CD2001. Make sure they call us quickly. Thanks.

Call 10:00 am to 10:00 pm EST Monday through Friday 10:30 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday

This offer is brought to you by Consolidated Media Services in association with GroupLotto.

Hi Chad,

Love to hear from readers, especially when they are complimentary.

I have yet to hear of the example you sent me though I do tend to avoid current stuff because they like to sue detractors and have a lot of victims' money to pay their lawyers. I have to wait until they are charged before I can comment on them. I will post your example though. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter and tell your friends.


Cramming is Scamming

20 Apr 2001

I really need your help to report fraud to the proper government office. This company,

Access Resource Services Inc.
1007 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 272, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 33304

is sending me collection letters for a phone call I never made.  I don't know how they did this.  I call AT&T and they said there was just background noise on the line.

I don't understand how they could make this happen.  I have sent them a certified letter and just received a demand for payment letter. The date they committed the fraud was on 2/07/01 at 01:15. Cost $34.93,  duration 7 minutes.

AT&T took the charge off my bill and I also called my local phone company to alert them and Ameritech told me they are receiving many complaints. I need your help, please.

Thanks in Advance!

Nick Fragola

Hi Nick,

I really can't give qualified legal advice but if it was me I would look through the list at and likely contact the FTC, the FCC and the state attorney.  I would ignore the demand after I had contacted my phone company to dispute the charge.

This type of scam, if it is indeed one, is called "cramming".  Hit this link or do a search for that word at the bottom of any page for more info on how they trick people into paying for unwanted or unmade charges.

Best of luck.  Let me know what happens please.  Sorry I couldn't possibly be of more assistance.


I want to thank you again for the information you sent me.  I contacted the proper source and I just received information that the fraud problem has been cleared up and they will not pursue it or attempt to collect any moneys.


I am glad it worked out for you.  I wonder if you might let the viewers know which agency actually helped you out for this particular problem so we can give credit where it is due.  Many agencies just document the complaint and you never hear from them again.


I reported the problem to the

Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,
Division of Consumer Services, Mayo Building,
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800.

I filled out a report on-line and sent it to them.  On the last collection letter I received, I forwarded a copy of the Department's letter I received to the agency that was committing the fraud. I hope this helps.

Nick Fragola

Getting the Bum's Rush

14 May 2001

I shared this web site with another gal that I work with and she just got scammed by a magazine operation. She got a bill for $999.00 for magazines that she can't remember ordering, not to mention the magazines are not what she would call a women's magazine as they are Golf mag, Sports Ill, etc.

She had to have her account changed and is still having problems as they keep getting into her account. This, in the early stages of buying her new home, has caused her a lot of grief. I too was scammed by the magazine scam in days gone by.

I want to thank you so very much for creating this web sight. I cannot even begin to tell you how many of these scams that I have gotten caught up in. The most recent one was for Ameriplan which claims to be an insurance company.

I had called the representative several times with questions before putting out that kind of money ($250.00) and after I sent the money I found out that they are NOT an insurance company.  When I asked if I wasn't happy with it, may I get my money back?   "Oh sure" the rep answered.

In fact, I had point-blank asked them if they are an MLM and this guy professing to be a Pastor straight up lied to me saying that it was not an MLM. I truly thought that I was asking all the right questions. I'm beginning to think that they will say anything they want to get your money.

Then he wouldn't send me any information until I sent money.  As soon as he got my money he began emailing me the dirty little scams to get people under you, use deception, contact friends, try to get friends to give their family members' phone numbers, etc.  Well, as soon as I received that email I have to say I saw red.

I contacted them and was given the name of their customer service rep but when I would call and ask for him he was either on another line or not available to speak. I was told to hold onto the kit and not to open it as the value drops to $60.00 if you keep it for 6 weeks or open it.

Of course I didn't even open it though he would never return my calls and on the off chance that I did get him on the line, all that he told me was that it was in the hands of the CEO or owner or whatever.

Now this would have been a  whole lot worse but I was writing the web site where I found the advertisement for them and told them that this company is a fraud.

Anyway, to make a long story short they defended the company, saying that they have never had any complaints. (I had also called the better business bureau prior to sending them money.)  Well, she knew a broker who promptly sent me the $250 for the kit that I had to order. Anyway, I wish there was a  better way of policing this kind of activity.

Thanks for listening
Victoria Rush.

Hi Victoria,

Thanks for the kind words.  I too have been scammed several times over the years so don't feel too bad.  Or maybe I should feel worse.  I am really surprised you got any money back, what a victory.  Enclosed is the link for Reporting concerns.


Multitudes of Mailers

Several years ago I discovered that my mother's retirement funds were being seriously depleted at an alarming rate. She didn't have enough money to replace a faulty gas heating unit, for example Then I began to monitor her mail.

She was getting solicitations from all sorts of charities and from conservative causes (and politicians) that amounted to 35 to 45 pounds of mail per month. She was writing between $700 and $1000 worth of checks to these organizations monthly.

Message continues here.

Sweepstakes Swindle

From Jackie H. Mon, 28 Aug 2000

I am writing this with the hope that you can help me. My elderly parents reside in Greenville, S.C.   I reside in Bryan, Ohio. Anyhow, my father lives in an assisted living facility and my mother lives alone in their condo.

Several months ago my mother started receiving phone calls from a man in Montreal, Quebec who lead her to believe that she had won $2 million. Several days and several conversations later,  he told her that she needed to wire him $18,000 to receive her prize.

She did this, without telling anyone, just as he instructed her to do.


For more detailed info on this type of scam Click Here.

No Greens Eaten at Dinner Party

7 May 2001

Dear Les,

My name is Laura Green and I just found your website tonight.  I rarely ever use the internet for anything else than e-mail, but for some reason I decided to play around a little bit and see if I could find any information on the "Original Dinner Party".

I went to a meeting last week and putting my logic and gut feelings aside talked myself into doing it. A friend and I were going to split a "plate" together.  Thank God I'm poor because I had to take the time to try and figure out how I'd get the money.  And in that time I found your invaluable information.

Message continues here.

Dinner Party Pooper

From: Kelly B.

I was just introduced to you web page where you refer to the Original Dinner Party as a scam. I know hundreds of women who are successfully involved in this women's gifting group. Gifting clubs are legal in many states and I'm curious to know if you have any data to support the fact that you refer these women's groups as a scam. Thank you for you time, Kelly

Messages continue here.

For more info on the Dinner Party process Click Here.

Identity Fraud through a Sweetheart Scam

From: "Glenda K."

The section on victims hit home. I have been through so very much of what you described. I am a 48 year old woman with Parkinson disease. Two years ago my husband of 17 years divorced me saying he was too young to care for a disabled wife.

A man named Carmen F. studied me, checked my credit, and won my confidence by saying all the right things. I never lived with him. He got into my mail, returned credit card offers, changed all the beneficiaries on my accounts, 401k, medical etc, and bought a truck in my name. The DA in Araphaho county Colorado refused to prosecute saying it was my word against his.

I lost almost everything. I was forced to file bankruptcy. This man has a history of fraud and scams committed on disabled women and he is still out there free. This took place in 1998 and there is probably not much that can be done. I felt it important that others know that he and others who prey on the disabled are out there!!!! Continued


My name is Brielle and I work at a new true crime show called Aphrodite Jones.  It is being produced by Buena Vista (Disney) and USA network.  Aphrodite Jones is the woman who wrote the book that the movie Boys Don't Cry was based on.  

We are currently working on a story about con-artists/bigamists.  I was wondering if there are any cases you are currently working on where a man has taken a lot of different women or wives for money. (sweetheart scams)

Is there any way you could pass on my information to your clients?  We are interested in profiling their case and using the resources we have to catch the man.

Please e-mail me and let me know.

Best Wishes,

Brielle Lebsack
Associate Producer

Lottery and Sweepstakes Victim

From Jess H.   9 Aug 2000 

Dear Les

I am in a real quandary here. An elderly man who has been like a father to me is getting BILKED, and I MEAN BILKED BAD!  He is completely hooked on this whole telemarketer/sweepstakes thing and the whole family is at a loss for what to do.

He has boxes of replies paper-clipped to envelopes waiting to be sent out. His check registers are full of entries for $12.99 here, $18.99 there, $24.99 and so on, going back two years.


What do we do. He is 85 years old and has precious little left. Continued

Please feel free to post my plea on your board and THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR WORK!


For more info on Foreign Lottery Scams click here.

Trained in Transit

Hi Les,

Here's our story. This guy in Michigan has a website which appears to be full of specially trained dogs for sale but come to find out, he has no dogs.  When someone approaches him to buy a dog, he shows them pictures of dogs he has found for sale on the internet, jacks up the price saying that he has trained them, and then sends an untrained dog, only purchasing it once he has your money in hand.

It's a really great racket.  We sent him $4900 for our dog that we find he paid $1500 for, and the dog is not even trained though he told us great stories of its masterful skills.

I hope somehow he can be stopped.  I am trying to pursue this with every agency I can find and tell my story to whoever will listen.  If you have any tips, please let me know.  Thanks for any help you can give us.

Cara Huffman  11/01

Reply:  Though I can't get embroiled in this type of consumer complaint by naming names I will post your experience as a warning to others and in fairness to the dogs who are being shipped around the country needlessly just so that this person can profit from the alleged deception.