CHICAGO (CBS) – Law enforcement authorities estimate that hundreds of millions of dollars are lost in credit card scams every year. Some scams involve small charges that thieves are hoping customers won’t notice on their monthly statements.
And as CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman found, these mystery charges can crop up on your bill over and over again.
Out of the blue one day, Waukegan retiree Barrie Fromme received some diet pills in the mail. When one looks at Fromme, it’s obvious he is not in need of such medication.
Fromme says he didn’t think much of until he was looking at his credit card bill one day and noticed a $34 charge from a company called AdiposeRx.
Fromme says he immediately suspected the charges were fraudulent.
It turns out, the Adipose was being sold by a company operated by Jason Glen Taylor, who has now been cited by the state of Utah for deceptive practices. He faces a fine of more than $600,000 in Utah after 184 people complained about unauthorized charges for weight loss products like Adipose.
The drug is advertised on Taylor’s website, which is the same company listed on Fromme’s credit card bill.
“I didn’t order it and I ended up not paying for it,” Fromme said, referring to the initial charge.
Then, this past July, Fromme noticed more unauthorized charges on his credit card bill. This time, a company called “I Earn” based out of Texas billed him for a total of $132.
“They were the only two charges on a credit card that hadn’t been used in more than a year,” Fromme explained. That’s how he noticed the charges so quickly.
Fromme described his state of mind as, “Shock, first of all. Just shock. And then fear. Obviously that credit card account is floating around out there somewhere.”
After the second charges, Fromme went online and found postings from people across the country complaining about the company called “I Earn” and similar unauthorized charges.
“I began to think this is not just a disputed charge. This is fraud,” Fromme said.
The Texas Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau out of Dallas have received more than 60 complaints about “I Earn.” The Dallas B.B.B. has gone so far as to issue a warning against the company.
Dallas Better Business Bureau spokesperson Jeannette Kopko says customers, “don’t know who it is, what they’re being charged for.”
The owners of “I Earn” say they are just a bill processor for a Utah company called Thunderbug. Thunderbug is owned by — you guessed it — Jason Glen Taylor.
And it turns out Taylor is a convicted felon who was sentenced in the late 1990’s for communications fraud, forgery and theft.
All this leaves Fromme with one basic question: “I want to find out how someone can put a charge on my credit card account that I did not make,” he said.
The BBB has this advice for all of us: “Watch your account. Make sure that you know about all those charges and dispute them immediately with the bank if there’s any unauthorized charges,” said Kopko.
Fromme did dispute the charges and eventually got the charges taken off his credit card bill.
Jason Glen Taylor did not return calls requesting comment.