Victim, officials warn consumers of potential scams

Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-12 19:22:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY --  A Utah woman was able to get a refund after she was scammed by a fake collections call, and the postal service said nearly 400 complaints have been filed against the company in question.

Janet Leimonstoll said she was able to get her money back after she found proof she had been defrauded.

“I had purchased, years ago, some products through the Disadvantaged Handicapped Workers,and I hadn't bought anything from them in years and years,” she said.

But Leimonstoll still got a call out of the blue recently from someone who said they represented that charity. The caller said Leimonstoll owed them money.

“I argued with him for a little while, and he said, ‘It's going to collections today if you don't pay it today,’” she said.

Leimonstoll said she knew she didn't owe them any money, but she said she felt pressured.

“They threaten you with sending you to court, and they say it will cost you thousands of dollars in court fees, so you start hearing thousands of dollars,” she said.

Leimonstoll paid the callers $150, which was three times the original purchase cost because of late fees and fines.

“I was truly furious when I realized that they were scamming me, but I didn't quite know what to do at first,” she said.

Leimonstall decided to investigate, and she ordered her phone records for the day she had been told she had purchased the item in question. She said when she reviewed the records she had no incoming or outgoing calls on that day. She called the company back to get a refund.

“The lady was very mad,” she said. “I said, ‘I have proof that I did not buy this... I have my phone records.'”

Leimonstoll got a full refund, but not everyone was so lucky. Authorities said between 150 and 200 victims lost tens of thousands of dollars.

US Postal Inspector Kim Gordon said people should do research before agreeing to pay.

“If someone calls you asking you to donate to a cause, have them send you some documentation through the mail so you can check it out,” she said. "Never be pressured to make this decision on the phone right now. Any reputable company would be happy to send you documentation and let you take your time.”