Better Business Bureau: Grandma Scam-New Version

Aug. 13, 2011 at 3:13 a.m.

By Alan Bligh

Now days you have to be careful, even when you file a complaint. We all know that customers who feel like they have been duped by a business or scammers are often desperate to get their money back. One website is using that desperation to victimize them a second time. The site charges consumers an upfront fee of $1,500 to $2,000 for assistance in collecting money owed from businesses. After receiving fees from consumers, tells consumers to provide the details of the dispute. Afterwards, consumers receive information packets that include envelops addressed to BBB. told consumers that it would recover their money within 90 days.

Grandparent scam

The BBB is issuing a RED ALERT regarding a new twist on the Grandparent telemarketing Scam. In this new variation the caller already knows detailed information regarding family members. Other differences - the calls are not targeted strictly at seniors and the money requested is to be wired to Mexico. The callers identify themselves by specific name as a particular family member. They say they are being held in jail in Mexico and they need bail money wired immediately. They lace their conversation with correct references by name to other family members, increasing their credibility. Law enforcement officials contacted by the BBB are not certain how perpetrators are obtaining the inside knowledge or phone numbers for victims.

Guests pay for newspaper

Maybe you don't read it, and no one you know reads it so how can USA Today be the No. 2 newspaper in the country? The answer is hotel copies - we are all familiar with the practice. We find a copy of the paper in the mornings at our hotel door. According to Forbes, these hotel papers make up about one half of the paper's 1.8 million daily circulation,. That means a lawsuit against Hilton Hotels could be big trouble for the USA Today, if the outcome convinces the hotel chain (or even the industry) to stop ordering the paper for its guests. A former hotel guest, Rodney Harmon, is suing the hotel chain in federal court over the 75 cent daily charge a Northern California Hilton passed along to him for a newspaper that he didn't want.

Inventors, beware

Every year, thousands of promising inventors attempt to patent and market their ideas to the public. Developing an invention can be challenging, costly and competitive; as a result, many inventors turn to invention promoters, but BBB warns that not all firms have the right intentions. Some companies offer to conduct research or market evaluations on invention ideas. Others promise to help with patenting, licensing or marketing. Beware if companies: 1. Insist on substantial upfront fees. 2. Won't disclose other clients' success and rejection rates. And 3. Guarantee profits without written documentation. Realistically, few patented inventions are successful and most reputable firms are highly selective. Check such firms out at

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at



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