April 30, 2002

APRIL 30, 2002

CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, Director Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe today warned all Maine residents concerning a telephone scam operating in Maine that purports to be representing the Attorney General's Office in going after fraudulent scams. The callers say they are from a company called "Tele-Guard" and that their records show that the consumer's credit card has been fraudulently billed hundreds of dollars. They say they will, for a fee of $379, help recover the money. They also offer $500 "emergency cash" to help the consumer. They ask for the consumer's bank account number and a cancelled check number to facilitate the "emergency cash" deposit. What they don't say is that the information will allow them to withdraw from the consumer's account.

Attorney General Rowe said, "We have no arrangement with Tele-Guard or any other company that charges Maine consumers to recover money that was stolen from them. Do not provide any account information to these people because you think they work with the Attorney General. They do not."

In a 1996 case, the Attorney General sued Research Marketing Systems, Inc. on charges of fraudulent telemarketing practices. That company allegedly tricked consumers into paying $99 to $999 to recover money the consumer had already lost to fraudulent telemarketers. This practice is known as "reloading": duping consumers who have been targets of former scams. In a court approved settlement, RMS agreed to distribute $136,465 to 2,000 customers nationwide.

The Attorney General is hopeful that this warning will keep Mainers from falling victim to these scam artists and avert the need for a lawsuit to recover damages. "Let Maine common sense prevail," said Attorney General Rowe. "We in the AG's Office proudly work for the consumers of Maine, and there is never a surcharge for our services."

Rowe also urged a word-of-mouth campaign among friends and family to personally warn those who may be susceptible to such a scam. "Give elderly friends and neighbors a call, just to make sure they have heard this warning," Rowe said.