A CON GAME This file describes an encounter I had with a sleazy con game operating thru th

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A CON GAME This file describes an encounter I had with a sleazy con game operating thru the mail & using a 1-800 number to lure people into paying out $$$ for supposedly 'free' magazines offered as a reward for answering a phony telephone survey. I provide it as information to protect others should they encounter this ploy. I recently received a postcard with my address on a computer-generated label and no return address, postmarked Erie, Pennsylvania. On the reverse side was an apparently handwritten message saying: "I've been trying to reach you! Please call me at your earliest convenience. Monday through Saturday 9 am to 9 pm, at 1-800-231-9777. Ask for extension 28. thanks, Pat Murphy" Puzzled by who was trying to reach me, I called the number, and was told the line was busy but they'd return my call. I gave them my phone number with some trepidation, and asking what company they represented, I was told, "an answering service". I asked another time, and got the same response "an answering service". No company name to this answering service, evidently. About 20 minutes later I got a return call. An individual calling himself Pat Murphy said he was conducting a survey on people's magazine reading habits as a reader's service. I reluctantly decided to go along, having been suckered into calling this guy. The 'survey' contained worthless questions such as "Are you between the ages of 21 and 61?", "Do you prefer romance or mystery novels?", and in all, had only maybe a total of 7 questions, that apparently were directed towards housewives, and had no value for any sort of real-life survey. I went along & answered the questions, and was then told that for participating in the survey I would receive FREE subscriptions to TV Guide, Us magazine, Working Woman, Lady's Home Journal, for ..60.. issues each (I think he said 60 months, but whatever it was, it was a ridiculously large number). Smelling a con game, I listened further. The fellow continued his slick speech about how useful these magazines were, how they contained many valuable coupons I could use at the grocery store, and I did use coupons, didn't I? He then began explaining the weekly monetary value of these magazines, and started to ask for money to offset the 'operating expenses' of providing this 'free service'. I was totally convinced at this point that this was a con game, because the survey was of no use to anybody, they were making an offer "too good to be true", and the reticience of them to tell me the name of their company. Without a doubt if I gave any money to this guy I'd never see a single magazine promised for my cooperation. I would not have been surprised if he had tried to finagle a credit card number out of me, had I let him continue. I told him I wasn't interested in paying for magazines I didn't want, and he quickly terminated the conversation. Outraged by being lured into a con game operating thru the mail and using a 1-800 number, I decided to register my disgust by calling them back 8 times with my modem (allowed within current FCC regulations), with the small pleasure of knowing I'd run up their phone bill by 50 cents each time by calling their number. I called one last time by voice telling the operator that a con game was being run thru their number. After a little thought, I decided my actions had been useless as it had just aggravated the poor operator, and I decided to inform the authorities that an apparent interstate con game was being perpetrated, and I was almost a victim of it. I spoke with an FBI agent who said they get lots of calls about companies using these tactics, and it may indeed be a con game, but unless there was evidence that the company had failed to deliver services or had taken a customer's money, there was nothing they could do. He added that the company may have been legitimate, although using sleazy business practices in luring people to call them. So until somebody gets ripped off, there's nothing the law can do. I want people to be forewarned about this scam should they receive a similar postcard in the mail. Please don't take matters into your own hands or violate FCC regulations, by the way. Contact your local FBI agent if you too, are targeted by this scam. Hail Discordia!

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