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Consumer Alert

Consumer Alert

(Pierre) – Attorney General Mark Barnett is cautioning people about recent scams in South Dakota.  There are several pyramid schemes once again circulating in the state, which violate both state and federal laws.  The first scheme is called “The Last Program” where the promoters want you to “gift” $100 and they will make the empty promise to take care of the money matrix to ensure that you get rich quick.

The other scheme has the consumer purchase “software”, which is really no more than computer disks with names of participants on it.  You pay $25 for the 5 computer disks, add your name, and then sell them to five other people.  This is basically like an illegal chain letter, and people should not participate in this scam either.

Barnett says, “We recently prosecuted a number of people in the state for scams similar to these and recovered almost $1 million dollars.  I am always amazed at how fast these scams regenerate and these crooks attempt to con innocent citizens out of their hard earned money”.

The other scam recently circulating relates to office supplies.  The typical scam involves goods and services that your business routinely orders: paper, toner, maintenance products or other supplies. When these telemarketers call they claim to be from your office supply company and hope that your employees will authorize a sale of merchandise that will be overpriced by as much as 10 times retail value, of poor quality and in many cases, worthless.  

Here are some tips to prevent phony office supply telemarketers:

  • Know your rights. If you received bills for goods or services you did not order, do not pay. The law allows you to treat unordered goods and services as a gift. Check carefully though, honest mistakes do happen. 
  • Review incoming invoices. Make sure you are paying for what you have ordered. 
  • Assign designated buyers and document your purchases. 
  • Train your staff on how to respond to telemarketers. Advise employees who are not authorized to order goods and services to say, “I am not authorized to place orders. If you want to sell something, you must speak to the person in charge of purchasing for that area.” 
  • Buy from people that you know and trust. All employees should be skeptical of “cold” calls. 
  • Check out the organization. Call the South Dakota Consumer Protection Office at 800-300-1986 before you send any money for any product or service.