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Call For Action: Scam targets online buyers

Published On: Apr 19 2013 01:09:22 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 20 2013 11:48:44 AM CDT
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A Town of Oregon man wants southern Wisconsin residents to know of a new scam being operated on the online shopping site, Craigslist. Bob Dicke has been searching for an ATV over the last year and stumbled upon repetitive efforts that "seemed like an airtight deal."

He contacted Call For Action when he was not allowed by the seller to look in person at the vehicle he was trying to buy.

"It seemed like a really good deal," he said. "When I first saw it, I thought, 'Wow.' Am I lucky? What kind of a deal did I find here?"

"(I'd) been looking at ones that run from $6,000-$12,000 and all of a sudden, you see one for $2,500 or $2,900 and you jump on it."

Four separate times, he's inquired on vehicles advertised at a dramatically lower-than market value. Each time, he's heard from a "seller" who claims to have moved away from the ATV due to "a husband dying" or needing the money quickly to help "send a kid to college." He was told shipping costs were included and if he didn't like the vehicle, he could ship it back at no cost.

It seemed perfect, maybe too perfect, he said.

"The trigger for me was I couldn't look at it," he said. "I'm just not going to spend that kind of money without seeing the product."

Sandy Chalmers, the administrator for Wisconsin's Division of Trade and Consumer Protection, said she's heard a number of stories like Dicke's regarding online shopping sites.

"If you're posting for a large-priced item, you're likely to be targeted," she said, complimenting Dicke on his decision to not fall for the scam. "If someone says they're in a different country or not local, that in and of itself, is a red flag."

Meanwhile, Dicke will continue to search for an ATV that he can use to help haul wood at his property in northern Wisconsin. Despite his recent experience shopping online, he said that's where he expects to eventually find a vehicle he can use.

"This is the first time I've run into any type of serious scam."


Online daily deals generate nearly four billion dollars in sales each year in this country. Two years ago, WISC-TV3 entered into that business by creating the Best Deals program at

Twice a week, consumers are offered deals to go to local golf courses, restaurants or in the case of Barbara Voigt from Middleton, a show called "Chicken Soup for the Soul." But what Voigt thought would be a fun night out with her sorority sisters, "turned out to be a business presentation -- not a show."

She contacted our Call For Action volunteers to get her $25 investment back.

WISC-TV3 Sales Manager Steve Scadden said it's company policy to give customers a full refund if they're not satisfied with the services they received from the Best Deals Madison program.

"The deal that (Voigt) purchased, she believed, was going to be one thing and it turned out to be a different thing," Scadden said. "We need to do a good job as a company to make sure everything's clear with the deal itself. We feel like we've done a pretty good job with that, but any time there's a misunderstanding, we're ultimately responsible for them buying it and we want to make sure they're satisfied in the long run with our product."

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