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Every consumer’s greatest asset: Knowledge

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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013 9:49 am

Editor’s note: The Ahwatukee Foothills News is proud to share with our readers this weekly consumer advocacy column from ABC15 Investigator Joe Ducey. Beginning today, you can find it regularly in print, online at Ahwatukee.com, or on our “AFNNews” mobile app (available for download now at Ahwatukee.com/onthego).

I’ve been a reporter for more than 30 years, and an investigative reporter for nearly 25 of them. As part of the ABC15 Investigators, I focus on consumers who’ve been scammed, cheated or just plain annoyed, usually by someone trying to get their money.

Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of scams. Most of them stay around for a while until people catch on and stop taking the bait.

When was the last time you heard from a Nigerian who needed your help getting their money out of the country?

That was a classic scam that’s gone ... for now. These things are cyclical, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that one crop up again with a few changes.

As an example, take this rental scam, one that’s still big in the Valley. Scammers pretend to rent you a house they don’t own. They set up an email address, ask for deposits and many times get the money.

That’s just the latest variation of all the Craigslist and eBay scams. Frauds try to sell you everything from cars to airline vouchers that they don’t own.

The sellers in these scams are always out of the country for some reason. Hmmm. That way, they have no way of letting you see the product you’re about to waste your money on.

The newer variations involve scammers who present themselves as buyers. You try to sell something on Craigslist and they send you MORE than the sales price. You’re supposed to write a check for the remainder and send it back. Your check is good. Their check is bad. You’re out hundreds.

All of these scams play on our desire to get something for nothing — or very little.

But they don’t work if you don’t bite.

But believe me, all kinds of people bite, people of all backgrounds and walks of life. I’ve met countless smart, wealthy people who fall for scams because scammers these days are so convincing and good at what they do.

There is one thing that keeps you from being a victim: knowledge.

I want to help with that. And I need your help to do it.

Beginning today, and every week, I’ll be right here, sharing with you the most annoying and dangerous scams I see in the Valley. I’ll show you how to check them out. I’ll use my own experience, expert advice, and find out how other readers and viewers have dealt with scams.

So, let me know what you’re seeing — and it doesn’t have to be a scam.

This week’s scam stopper: Never wire money to someone you don’t know, no matter what the reason. It’s always a scam!

• ABC15 Investigator Joe Ducey is Arizona’s consumer alert expert. Watch his reports weekdays on ABC15 at 5 and 10 p.m., and email him with questions or news tips anytime at jducey@abc15.com.

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