FRAUD ALERT – INTERNET SCAMS
July 31, 2008
I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this but let me try to help anyone else on the verge of being taken advantage of.
The other day I logged on to the Internet and Yahoo’s Home Page came up.
An article put out by ARA Lifestyle turned out to be an ad about computers that were running slow.
It directed me to a website called Sammsoft offering Advanced Registry Optimizer 5 or ARO 5. They stated that you could try the program for free in the hopes that you would buy it. They also claimed that CNET had awarded four stars in 2007 for their software.
I downloaded the free version. It “found” over 1100 “errors” on my computer. Using DSL, it took 4 1/2 hours to scan my entire PC.
It turns out to be that that scan captured all of my personal information including all of my bank accounts, the bank with whom I do business, credit and debit card numbers used for prior history on supposedly secure servers, back up and emergency support numbers for my company, all of my address information, access to my email account and more.
All company and personal information about me had been captured or in my words, stolen.
My email this morning came from Sonic Solutions. It contained information about me that only two people have access to – my bank and myself. But it is on my computer and in my files.
I was asked to pay an invoice for software called Photo Show 5. I am in advertising and have a lot of creative software. This was not something I ordered. I clicked on a link to find out more information about this “order” I placed and was directed to a site asking for my reference number and my credit card number.
Red flags went up every where.
And today, the results came crashing in when I got an email from a company called Sonic Solutions also listed as Digital River and Sonic Solutions CS. They asked me to pay a third party, Global Collect BV with offices in San Francisco.
I called Global Collect and they immediately said, “obviously sir, you are a victim of internet fraud but we need more information about you”. I realized that they were phishing for more information to try and do further damage.
I asked to be transferred to their corporate offices or legal division. I was told that those offices are in the Netherlands and don’t handle US Affairs.
It turns out to be that they billed my credit cards under the following name:
Zoombli aka Xeriton
and those charges are all tied to the following companies and or names, all of whom have my personal information (this doesn’t mean they are all guilty of fraud but they are all tied to one another for information retrieval and billing and all can be found by searching their name and the word fraud (to see what they have done to others):
ARA Lifestyle dot com
Advanced System Optimizer
Advanced Registry Optimizer
Yahoo (they placed their advertising link there – it looked like a Yahoo article)
Global Collect BV
(Global Collect advertises that they help prevent fraud – do not be fooled – they will gain access to all of your information, play dumb and ask you to provide more personal information to “resolve” the problem.)
Sonic Store CS
Digital River Customer Service
Additionally beware of Wilco Publishing and Voice Buddy – I was taken for a financial ride by both of them and since they are not US based, have had no luck recovering my money. I had purchased Tower Simulator which never properly worked after six download attempts then sent a letter telling me I was not entitled to recover my money as they have an “all sales are final” statement and their billing company doesn’t issue refunds. They also refused to send me the software on CD and told me to write to the publisher for a solution. The publisher to whom they told me to write was Wilco Publishing – the same people that sent me the letter.
I will add this statement:
Not all of these companies are fraudulent but they do claim affiliations with trusted and reputable companies like CNET, The Better Business Bureau, Yahoo, etc.
I will tell you that I have spent FOUR HOURS dealing with all the damage done to my account and private information. And no one at any of these companies cares. Either they claim International offices with no phone numbers, play dumb or just refuse to hand out information until you give more information about yourself.
I have never been asked to give a credit card number in order to discuss an account unless it was with the company that issued the credit card to me.
This was hastily written to warn others – as the more I googled these named and the word fraud, the more people I found out had been ripped off.
As for me, so far my total lost exceeds $2,000.00. About $65.00 of that amount can be recovered. And I have had to cancel all bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, change phone numbers, etc as they can take all of this information and sell it to third parties who will begin soliciting to you via the phone.
I now have to pay rush fees, purchase new checks, pay for phone number changes, deal with excessive phone calls on lines reserved for priority calls, etc. I one morning, my financial and functional life has become a nightmare.
And yes, they have all of my non published back up phone numbers and I have been slammed with phone solicitors on phone lines that are restricted to important calls, not published in any manner.
What legal recourse do I have? NONE.
Beware – It is sad to say that some of these companies have apparently illegally used the names of other reputable companies in order to take advantage of comsumers.
Again, I want to make it clear that not all of these companies are out to take advantage of people but they are all linked together in either billing, advertising, or alleged “fraudulent debt resolution”.
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