DSEA, 136 E. Water St.
Dover, DE 19901
DSEA, 4135 Ogletown-Stanton Rd.
Suite 101 Newark, DE 19713
302-366-8440 (not a toll-free number)
Website Concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org
One warning sign of a senior that is the subject of fraud is to watch the amount of junk mail they receive. People who get lots of mail every day may have run afoul of one of several different types of fraud. They may be losing lots of money in small amounts, and even may be opening themselves up to some bigger dollar scams.
Sweepstakes mailings. Scammers around the world send out literally tons of mail. This type of scam often has an official looking form, replete with seals, signatures, and other official looking indicia. A large dollar sum of winnings is displayed prominently. There is also often a block of fine print that is hard to read and confusing but essentially admits you really haven’t won anything. Recipients are instructed to send a small sum, such as $20 in an enclosed preaddressed envelope. Needless to say, those who respond will almost certainly receive more such mailings. NO ONE EVER WINS MONEY IN THESE.
What’s worse, we are fairly sure that the lists of those responding also find their way into the hands of the Jamaican and other telemarketers that phone people telling them, for example, that they’ve won huge sums in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes and then need to pay substantial sums for taxes or other expenses.
The FTC has done two cases against such operations in the last several years. One company doing this was in Ventura, California and was sending mailings to 159 countries around the world. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/09/ftc-sues-stop-massive-sweepstakes-scam The FTC also recently took action against a Florida-based enterprise called Mail Tree, which took in a minimum of $28 million from such mailings. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/09/ftc-sues-stop-massive-sweepstakes-scam The main players in Mail Tree were also arrested on federal fraud charges. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-sweepstakes-fraud-20150521-story.html Last I had heard, trial was scheduled for this summer.
Psychic mailings. Older consumers often receive mailings from purported psychics, who promise some individualized help or prayers, and which seek small sums of money. The Postal Inspection Service recently shut down a huge operation run in the name of Maria DuVal. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-files-enforcement-actions-shut-down-psychic-mail-fraud-schemes . Here is a link to a five part series about Maria DuVal which aired on CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/24/news/psychic-maria-duval-chapter-one/ Cumulative losses were in the hundreds of millions. Again, this scam operated all over the world.
Charities. Some charities do great work of course, but some are little more than scams. Consumers who send money often find that lists are shared and they begin getting more and more such mailings. The FTC and all 50 State Attorneys General recently shut down Cancer Fund of America, which took in over $75 million, with little of that money actually going to cancer issues. They marketed, at least in part, through direct mail. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sham-cancer-charities-settle-massive-fraud-case If consumers respond they can find themselves losing large sums over time. The Better Business Bureau rates charities and you can quickly check them out. http://give.org/charity-reviews/national/
Where to go? We really need complaints. Federal Mail Fraud (which includes fraud done through the mail) is handled by the US Postal Inspection Service. They are federal agents just like the FBI. Call them at: (877) 876-2455. Or complain to the FTC at 877/FTC-HELP or go to www.ftc.gov.