Category: Buying scam

Are House Lotteries Scams

Sometimes and perhaps due to an unusual location, unconventional build or architecture or just a downturn in the market, selling a house can be difficult.

So, why not auction the house or better still hold a lottery and the winner gets the house (as long as enough tickets have been sold)?

You might even make more money than through a direct sale.

This has been done on quite a few occasions – the lucky ticket holder gets a house for the price of a lottery ticket – maybe £2 or £10 or £250 or whatever and the seller gets rid of a difficult property and possibly gets a lot more money than through a normal sale.

BUT, of the times this has been tried, there have been unsatisfactory endings to the lottery and some people consider these to be scams.

Example 1. The East wing of a Grade II listed Manor in Lancashire was raffled by Dunstan Low who managed to sell all the 250,000 tickets at £2 each.  His reason for the lottery was to stop the bank grabbing the property and he was honest about that motivation.

Marie Segar, an office worker from Warrington won the house, having bought £40 worth of tickets, and subsequently sold it for £305,000.  This is how it is supposed to work.

Example 2. one-bedroom flat in Brixton was raffled in 2018 and the winner was due to be announced in June 2018 then the closure date was moved to November 2018 then it was moved again to 2019 to give the company “a bit more time to sell the 150,000 tickets required to cover the property and its associated costs”.

Perhaps this is reasonable but it’s pretty poor for the people already with tickets.

In some of these cases, when insufficient tickets are sold, a winner is chosen and gets a cash prize instead. Then the original owner still has the property and has likely made a lot of money.

If you do buy tickets in a house raffle, better read the small print to see what happens if insufficient tickets can be sold in time.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know, by email.

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Shopify Fake Websites

Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company. It is also the name of its e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems.

Shopify is used by over 600,000 businesses worldwide and is very easy to use and cheap so anyone, including scammers, can quickly setup an online shop.

But Shopify is attractive to scammers. e.g. My Pillow, which makes pillows, sheets and mattresses noticed that an unidentified scammer had used Shopify tools to set up a copy of mypillow.com called mypillowstore.com, which claimed to sell My Pillow products. My Pillow sued Shopify, alleging it supported trademark infringement. Shopify took down the site, but My Pillow demanded damages plus any money Shopify made running the bogus store.

Shopify says it has a team focused on identifying and taking down sites like the fake pillow store.

It’s very simple for a criminal to set up a fake online shop using Shopify software. Designing a store and uploading products is a very quick process and the payments and order processing are all handled by Shopify.

The Triangulation Scheme (exposed by Paul Bjerke of LexisNexis Risk Solutions.)

Scammers use Shopify or a similar service to quickly create sites selling mainstream products such as vacuum cleaners, then the fraudsters use details from previously stolen credit cards to buy the item from a real retail website and have it shipped to shoppers’ homes. Later on, the card payment networks reject the stolen credit card transaction and the real retailer gets what’s known as a chargeback, leaving it with no money for the product it sold. But the scammer still has the original consumers’ money, Bjerke explained.

Shopify say that market forces will weed out merchants using unsavoury tactics but that doesn’t help good companies such as MyPillow from being exploited by the scammers.

Shopify claims it has increased the team focused on merchant misbehaviour and responds to clear cases of copyright and trademark infringement. The company has also modified its software to highlight possible fraud and help shoppers and brands flag improprieties.

But there is a better answer. Rival BigCommerce says it stops fraudsters from starting to use its service. New merchants must pay upfront and prove they have real inventory before they can start selling.

“On other platforms, you can sign up for a free trial and you’re ready to go without paying effectively,” says the company’s chief product officer, Jimmy Duval. “Our approach provides a natural barrier for fraudsters.”

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Crypto Currency Scams

Crypto Currencies are the new Internet currencies. They aren’t created by governments or banks but by new organisations seeking to develop (or benefit from) new possibilities in currency transactions and investments.

There are lots of these new currencies but the biggest and most famous by far is Bitcoin.

 

You can see that the value of Bitcoin started at near zero and reached over $2,000 in 2017.

The first ever Bitcoin transaction was the purchase of 2 pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins.

The price has always been extremely volatile and having reached an all-time high of over $20,000 it crashed to less than $4,000 by the end of 2018.

Scammers usually offer one of the following:-

  1. A guaranteed way to make money betting on the Bitcoin price
  2. Automated “scientific” methods for gambling on Bitcoins e.g. using artificial intelligence
  3. A way to invest in Bitcoin that guarantees you will make lots of money
  4. Bitcoin vending machines
  5. Fake Bitcoin accounts opened in your name

These deals are also offered for other crypto currencies but most people have only heard of Bitcoin so the scammers focus on that one. Plus, there are lots of stories of people who invested a little in Bitcoins and are now millionaires. Some of these are true but as with any form of gambling or investing – past results do not tell you what will happen in the future.

Anyone who invested in Bitcoin in early January 2018 had lost 85% of their money by that Christmas.

The scammers don’t care of course as they only care about themselves and how much money they can steal from people.

Most of the scams are entirely fake – there is no Bitcoin investment or anything else of value and the ones that do actually lead to investment in Bitcoins are usually so highly leveraged as to make it impossible for anyone to benefit except for the scammers.

If you want to invest or deal in Bitcoins or any other cyber currency – take professional advice and be aware that you could easily lose everything.

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ZDOROV Creams

Every so often, a new wonder product appears and suddenly there are huge volumes of emails advertising it, dozens of review sites extolling its virtues and there appears to be an unstoppable band-wagon in progress.

Occasionally these are valid products, but most times they are either complete scams or rubbish products dressed up.

The latest, suddenly everywhere product is ZDOROV cream (although it has been available for some time)

Floods of spam emails proclaim its the simple way to prevent ageing and get rid of wrinkles. A pretty picture in the advert does a good job on the Marketing and the price is marked as reduced from £130 to £39 or from 130 Euros down to £39 Euros.

However, the emails come from intersport.biz.ua and alihost.co.ua and gazlife.biz.ua which are not what you would expect for a genuine pharmaceutical or cosmetic product. Plus the email addresses are rubbish such as imfivpd, obfyqip, ibhulpy, onyoplr etc.

There are numerous reviews on-line about ZDOROV but these seem to be written as sales pitches rather than an attempt at a genuine review.

The same product is sometimes advertised as a joint pain wax cream and sometimes as an arthritis cure.

Maybe the product works and maybe it doesn’t but always beware these magic new products as they tend to take a lot of money then disappear only to reappear in another guise some time later.

If you do wish to buy ZDOROV through a safe method – a local shop-or safe website. It used to be sold on Amazon but is out of stock indefinitely though it is still available on some health websites and on eBAY at about half the price of the email offers.

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The Solar Panels Scam

Solar panels make a lot of sense as a way to reduce your electricity bills – if you live in a climate suitable for generating electricity from the sun all year round.

But in the UK, it is hard for anyone to benefit from solar panels as the upfront cost will almost always outweigh any savings.

In the UK, you see adverts for solar panels for your home – “never pay an electricity bill again”. “The power companies will pay you” and so on.

Emails, text messages and worst of all – doorstep sales men and women to convince you that installing solar panels on your roof will can save you a fortune and end the need to pay electricity bills.

They realise that most people cannot afford the upfront costs of £8,000 – £12,000 for purchase and installation of the solar panels, so they work with loan companies and offer you loans to cover that.

BUT, the loans are not cheap and although the solar panels can reduce your electricity bills during the summer months, the cost of the loan outweighs that.

People find they are trapped in probably a 10 year loan and rather than benefitting financially from the installation, are having to pay more than ever.

If you live in the UK and want to consider installing solar panels, then do check the figures very closely and factor in loan costs.

Have you fallen for the sales pitch or know someone who has? Let me know.

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