by Mark A. Krohn, Partner
Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP

Bridget explained that she got a telephone call from someone identifying himself as a representative of the Canadian Lottery. The man explained that she had won $850,000. and all she had to do was to pay for the Canadian income tax due in advance. We contacted the United States Secret Service and they agreed to investigate. Well, as it turns out, the telephone call made to Bridget concerning the Canadian Lottery turned out to be a fraud. Bridget was happy she had investigated the scam before parting with her hard-earned cash.

Is there any way of knowing whether a sales call is legitimate? The answer is “No.” Follow Bridget’s advice:You should always check out calls from persons or organizations that are unknown to you before sending them any money.

Dick wants to know what he can do to protect himself from telemarketing fraud.

I suggested that he refrain from making a quick decision when he is tempted to buy. Another tactic would be to ask the telemarketer what recourse a buyer has if they decide to make a purchase and are thereafter unsatisfied with the product.

Chickie Baby hesitated. Finally, she explained that she purchased some earrings recently through a telemarketer. “Such a deal! I only paid $460 for them!” Upon her inspection of the earrings they turned out to be junk. Chickie claims that the quality of the earrings were misrepresented to her and that the telemarketer had to have “some kinda Chutzpah” and he now refuses to refund her money. Chickie wants to know whether I will agree to sue the telemarketer for the purpose of obtaining a full refund. Unfortunately, victims of phone fraud rarely get their money back or, if they do, they receive no more than a few cents on the dollar.

Because of the amount of money involved. Chickie may not want to sue. The fraud should nevertheless be reported to the authorities because consumer advocate groups and law enforcement can do much to stop swindlers if there is evidence of a sufficient number of complaints. Furthermore. if the sum involved were more, civil action to recoup Chickie’s money may make economic sense and a proper and careful investigation would be in order.

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” …. Quotation by an unknown author.