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Freshmen scammed by fake salesperson

October 26, 2000

Amanda Smith is a little more skeptical than she used to be.

Especially of those who approach the door to her dorm room with what could be perceived as a good deal.

Smith, a Spanish freshman, and her roommate were bamboozled out of about $180 last month after purchasing several magazines from a man who said he was an MSU communication student collecting points to win an overseas trip to Australia.

“In hindsight I guess it made sense (that it was a scam),” Smith said. “The very first question he asked me was if I was a freshman.”

When Smith and her roommate told the man they didn’t have enough money to buy magazines, he countered saying they could write him a check because it wouldn’t be cashed for a few weeks.

But once he left the room, they began to think the whole idea sounded suspicious. That fear was heightened when they looked the student up on the campus database and found he wasn’t listed.

Her check was cashed less than two weeks later - and the magazines still haven’t arrived.

When Smith tried to look up the company’s Web site for a complaint number she found a site devoted to the complaints of other people who had paid and never received a magazine.

“The 800 number they have is always busy and as far as I can tell there is only one person answering the phones because every one of the people on the Web site talked to the same person,” Smith said. “They’re just lying to a bunch of people and I don’t think we’ll ever get our magazines or our money.”

Smith has filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission against the company but says she doesn’t know how many others may have done the same.

“I’m just a lot less trusting now,” she said. “I came (to campus) really naive and I thought I was helping out another student.

“I guess from now on I’ll have to be a lot more cautious.”

MSU police Detective Tony Willis said that while it isn’t often that students report being scammed, when they do it is usually at the beginning of the year and most often the complaints are filed by freshmen.

“Freshmen are more susceptible to the scams because they look at it and see this great deal where they can get all their magazines or a new credit card and forget to read the fine print,” he said.


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