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Popster27

join:2008-07-19
Placentia, CA
reply to Popster27

Re: [Scam] Perfectly legal scam

Click for full size
Envelope
Click for full size
Letter
This post created a lot more response than I expected. I should have included the offer, but I destroyed the letter before scanning it. Just this week I received another solicitation from the same source, which I have scanned and attached (personal info has been removed).

The sender has done everything they can to make this look official, short of saying it is. It is designed to prey on the gullible. In my mind, that makes it a scam.


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2
It says in big bold print, THREE TIMES, that it is not from the government, and clearly states TWICE that you can get the same records directly from the county recorder.

I still stand by my original comment. This is a company selling a completely legal service to people who are either stupid, or just too lazy to do it on their own, and I am perfectly ok with that. I see no scam at all.

hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA
reply to Popster27
I recognize that letter.

To the letter's credit the box at top and the last paragraph in the letter is unambiguous. This forums readers know the letter is "scammy" since OP described it as such, but the targeted nature of that direct mail campaign makes it effective, at least to first time home buyer me. I am embarrassed to admit I wrote out the check before rereading the letter and tearing both up. Then I got similar letters from other companies...

IMO, that "business" is all about the timing: whichever company delivers the letter first is most likely to get a customer or victim.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
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1 recommendation

reply to Camelot One
said by Camelot One:

It says in big bold print, THREE TIMES, that it is not from the government, and clearly states TWICE that you can get the same records directly from the county recorder.

I still stand by my original comment. This is a company selling a completely legal service to people who are either stupid, or just too lazy to do it on their own, and I am perfectly ok with that. I see no scam at all.


"Warning: $2,000 Fine, 5 Years Imprisonment, or both for any person interfering or obstructing with delivery of this letter U.S. Mail TTT.18 U.S. Code."
This warning printed on the address side of the envelope doesn't seem misleading to you?

Here's a self test that can be taken at home/office to assess scam identification proficiency.
Why is that warning there?
1. A public service mesage educating the general public about the consequences of mail theft.
2. The USPS bought advertising space on the envelope to discourage mail theft.
3. To give the impression that the envelope is related to U.S. government business where such notices are common.

Why is "This is not a government approved or authorized document" printed below the warning?
1. It's a voluntary statement made by the advertiser.
2. It's mandated by the USPS to offset the misleading nature of the warning.

Why does the mailing indicia say "Local Records Office"?
1. To mislead the addressee into believing it's from their "Local Records Office".
2. To mislead the addressee into believing it's from someone elses "Local Records Office".
3. It isn't misleading because it is from "Local Records Office".

Why does the letter refer to itself as originating from "Local Records Office"
see above

Here's a pop quiz:
What is a "Local Records Office"
1. It's the office of a dude named Local Records
2. A town or counties records bureau
3. A carefully chosen business name used to fool people into believing the business is something they are not.

Optional for extra credit:
Why are there so many legal disclaimers?
1. They are opt-in disclosures that responsible advertisers adhere to
2. They are Federal requirements put in place to mitigate false & misleading advertisements.

DISCLAIMER: Anyone self administering this self test does so AT THEIR OWN RISK!


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

1 recommendation

said by Snowy:

"Warning: $2,000 Fine, 5 Years Imprisonment, or both for any person interfering or obstructing with delivery of this letter U.S. Mail TTT.18 U.S. Code."
This warning printed on the address side of the envelope doesn't seem misleading to you?

I find it no more misleading than Best Buy or Walmart posting those "Shoplifting is a crime punishable by.....etc" posters. The letter is quoting the penalty for tampering with mail. Sure, it would apply to any piece of mail, not just this one, but there is nothing fraudulent about quoting the law.

Do you NEED their service, no. Could you spend your own time getting the documents, absolutely. But hocking a product you don't have to have and could get elsewhere for less is just how sales works. And if anything, I find the disclosures on this letter paint a far more honest picture than most of the crap being marketed by major corporations.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Clearwire Wireless
said by Camelot One:

I find it no more misleading than ...

2 differing opinions, one just happens to be a better opinion, IMO
I'll agree that for all the ways a person can be taken advantage of this particular scam hustle is not going to set the victim customer back too much.

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON

1 edit
reply to Popster27

said by Popster27 See Profile

The sender has done everything they can to make this look official, short of saying it is. It is designed to prey on the gullible. In my mind, that makes it a scam.

Ok, hate to tell you but there is NO SCAM in this, is it underhanded? Yes, but perfectly LEGAL!

1) They make NO false claims in your scanned letter.
2) The offer a Highly overpriced SERVICE to get you what you can on your own. YES!
3) You CAN get it on your own and they also make this clear in the letter! "LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE PROVIDE THE DOCUMENT ETC."
4) They offer you a service to get it for you. Is it overpriced? Hell yes! It's not worth 89$ But is it illegal? NO!
Therefore this is NOT a scam, it is exploitative, but NOT scam.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Clearwire Wireless
said by GroovyPhoenx:

3) You CAN get it on your own and they also make this clear in the letter! "LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE PROVIDE THE DOCUMENT ETC."

Would you explain that in more detail?


nwrickert
sand groper
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join:2004-09-04
Geneva, IL
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reply to GroovyPhoenx
said by GroovyPhoenx:

Ok, hate to tell you but there is NO SCAM in this, is it underhanded? Yes, but perfectly LEGAL!

As far as I know, the word "scam" is not restricted to what is illegal. The essence of scam is that it uses trickery (what you call "underhanded").

Usage varies. Some people might only use the word where law breaking is involved, while others will use it more broadly. Dictionary definitions vary, too.
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GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON
reply to Snowy
What is there to explain? The letter says "Local records office provide this document etc.." it makes no pretense that they and only they can secure this document it says it outright, "Local offices provide this document" so if I'm willing to shell out 89$ for some schmuck to go get something that I can get with five minutes of researching which office would I get this from, then, you deserve to get taken for 89$ instead of making your own way to the office and pay 5$ for the same thing.

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON
reply to nwrickert
I don't define this as a scam for the plain simple reason that it makes no claim that only THEY can secure it, that it is "threathening your home" to not have this document etc. It simply offers a service (albeit expensive) to perform for you. I say underhanded because I find overcharging a crooked thing to do, however I also know that if I want something I can get it myself and simplify matters.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Clearwire Wireless
reply to GroovyPhoenx
said by GroovyPhoenx:

What is there to explain? The letter says "Local records office provide this document etc.." it makes no pretense that they and only they can secure this document it says it outright, "Local offices provide this document" so if I'm willing to shell out 89$ for some schmuck to go get something that I can get with five minutes of researching which office would I get this from, ...

OK, what's happened is that their letter did what it's designed to do to you.
It confused you.
When the letter refers to "Local records office" it's referring to the name of the company that mailed the letter.
The scammers named their company "Local Records Office" to appear to be a local records office to someone not paying attention.
Still not a scam?

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON
I still don't view it as an outright "scam" though I guess when reading things I added "The" in front which would completely change the reading, I will agree that the letter is miss-leading somewhat, but it still makes no false claims, it offers a service, and even the disclaimer is in bold/big letters, so while they are skirting the "scam/legal" line, its unfortunately in that line that good crooks will go.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6

1 recommendation

That's cool.
Can we agree that the thread is appropriate for the forum?

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON
said by Snowy:

That's cool.
Can we agree that the thread is appropriate for the forum?

I never said it was not! I just don't see it as a scam that's all I was saying. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying its all on the up and up and perfectly clear and honest, the message is deceptive but not a lie, its a "read between the lines" type of mail which does confused people.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Clearwire Wireless

1 recommendation

Whoa!
It's not that serious a debate.
I only asked if the thread were appropriate for the forum to set you up for a kill shot by pointing out the forum title is
"Scam & Phishbusters"
once you agreed the thread is appropriate.

hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA
Its surprising to read bbr members defend the practices of this national Local Records Office company by posting, "Sure its a waste of money, but its not a scam," like the anonymous posters in the Anthony Morrison thread.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Clearwire Wireless
I wouldn't group GroovyPhoenx See Profile with the morrison shills.
GroovyPhoenx See Profile uses one of the legit legit definitions of "scam" while there's nothing legit about the morrison shills.

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
reply to hoyleysox
There's "legal" scam and "ethical" scam, sometimes there's a difference. I'd put this one in the ethical scam camp but it's likely a good lawyer could convince a judge of its legality.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Clearwire Wireless
An ethical scam, hmm.
A litmus test for "what is a scam" would be a disregard for ethics so an "ethical scam" would be a contradiction in terms, IMO.
»en.wiktionary.org/wiki/contradic···in_terms

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
Sorry for the confusion, I meant "ethics scam," where you create it to be misleading, on purpose, you mean to confuse people, but yet you skate just on the good side of legality. You can pull on your halo and say "Hey, look, I didn't REALLY lie, it's all there in writing, see?" but it's still going to be misread by people who aren't that observant.


Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Clearwire Wireless
said by garys_2k:

Sorry for the confusion, I meant "ethics scam,"...

That's a good way of looking at it!
It defines a scam for what it is regardless of legal standing.


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
said by Snowy:

said by garys_2k:

Sorry for the confusion, I meant "ethics scam,"...

That's a good way of looking at it!
It defines a scam for what it is [b]regardless of legal standing[/b}.

yes... exactly.
--
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--Standard disclaimers apply.--

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON

1 recommendation

reply to garys_2k
said by garys_2k:

There's "legal" scam and "ethical" scam, sometimes there's a difference. I'd put this one in the ethical scam camp but it's likely a good lawyer could convince a judge of its legality.

Well said, which is why I "argued" that it wasn't a scam by "legal" definition, simply because they are offering a service, using tons of legal wranglings no doubt to remain legal and sound alarmist, though I will admit, I had placed "The" in front of the Local records office, which once more changes the wording from "A local office can provide it" to "We can provide it we are the local office"


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
You want a scam? How about Apple selling graphics cards "upgrades" at twice the MSRP that are two generations obsolete.

»store.apple.com/us/browse/home/s···ic_cards
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2
said by Krisnatharok:

You want a scam? How about Apple selling graphics cards "upgrades" at twice the MSRP that are two generations obsolete.

»store.apple.com/us/browse/home/s···ic_cards

That is not a scam. That is just Apple being Apple.