I-Team Telemarketers - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-Team Telemarketers

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Scam artists call at all hours of the day and night. They pose as telemarketers, and will pull any trick in the book to convince you to send them money for a chance at a new car, cash, or a dream vacation. In the end, their victims are left with nothing but empty promises. 

One man told us it started with junk mail.  Then, phone calls. Before he knew it, in just three short months, his bank account was drained to nothing. 

"I take people at their word. If they tell me something, I have the tendency to believe them," he said.

That trusting nature has put the man in a big bind. He got unbelievable offers and prizes on the phone and in the mail he hoped would help him in his retirement years.

"There were a few of them looked pretty good. So, I sent a few of them in and it grew from there," he said.

He said he got his checkbook out and started writing.

"They say if I send one more payment, they are going to do this and do that," he said.

According to his bank statements, between the three month period of July 1 to September 30, 2011 he sent off almost $13,500 to contest entries. That's when his son said he got a call from a concerned friend who works at the bank. He noticed the unusual activity. He said his father was also billed over $5,000 in reverse telephone charges.

"First I was angry and then I wanted answers why, and what was going on," his son said.

The shock still has not worn off. But he said he had to come to grips that his father was duped out of thousands and thousands of dollars, and convince him the deals were no good.

"I tried speaking to him. We had words. I just couldn't understand why my father was believing these people," he said.

We called one of the numbers he said he found on his father's phone bill. We asked her if she represented one of the companies the man identified as those that cheated him out of money.  She said she was.

When we started asking specific questions about the company, the woman referred us to her attorney.

"Even after his money was gone, he still wanted to believe they had something for him," the man's son said.

The man's son said he called local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, but got nowhere.

"They just told me they couldn't help me and good luck," he said.

Lisha Landry, a consumer specialist for the Louisiana Attorney General's Office said telemarketing scams top the state office's list of complaints.

"We get at least five calls a day from consumers who are actually victims of telemarketing scams," Landry said.

Landry said most of the scam artists operate outside of the United States. Oftentimes, even when the U.S. Postal Inspector, Federal Bureau of Investigation or Federal Trade Commission get involved, the cases are extremely hard to crack. She said the swindlers have gotten creative using a technique known as "spoofing," which makes is it nearly impossible for investigators to trace their calls.

"They actually back into someone else's phone line and contact a consumer and a legitimate company's phone number will appear on the consumer's caller ID," Landry said.

Landry said you have to do your part when you get a call from a telemarketer. She suggests you hang up, and the sooner, the better.

"The longer you're on the phone with them, the more personal information they'll get out of you," Landry said.

If you or someone you know is the target of a telemarketing scam, call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection hotline at 1-800-351-4889.

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