Raspberry Ketone Strength Scam?

I’m writing this hoping other people will come forward with similar stories. (Don’t forget to read the important updates at the end of this post. Additionally, I’ve written out a strategy that will likely help track these scammers down faster.) On 9/16/2014, Josh, a former agent at the “customer service company” at the center of this scam responded.

Yesterday, 8/13/2014, I logged in and checked my credit card statement like I do routinely. I noticed an odd authorization for $49.95 from 888-368-0967.com. This was suspicious because I did not recently buy anything for $49.95 and had never heard of that company.

Visiting the site did not help either. It appears to be a third party site that provides the customer service and, apparently, billing for other websites online.

So I called the number and ended up speaking to two different customer service representatives, who were both very friendly. After explaining the charge appearing out of nowhere on my credit card I was asked to provide a few digits from my credit card number. I did that and my name was verified by them. Kind of weird that my real name was associated with that number in their database but whatever.

I was told that yes, a $49.95 charge was placed on that card on 8/10/2014. (It must have taken a few days to transfer over to my credit card company.) They told me that the Raspberry Ketone Strength vitamins would be arriving shortly.

Woah! Hold on there. Raspberry ketones? I even had to have the rep spell it out for me because he had a slight accent and that’s something you don’t hear in everyday conversation. What the heck are those? I have never even heard of them, let alone buy them!

I then asked him to give me the shipping address. I was planning on giving this information to the credit card fraud department to hopefully catch the criminal. Weirdly enough the agent proceeded to give me my own address! What craziness is this? Why would someone order these weight-loss “vitamins” in my name, using my credit card number, and then ship it to my actual address?

It doesn’t make any sense. If my card number was auto-generated and then used for this purchase, why would my real name and address be used? Wouldn’t the thief want the product shipped to his own address or at least a PO Box that he could secretly pick it up at? Seems like a lot of work just to pick up a 2-month supply of this stuff.

The first customer service representative I spoke with told me that he’d cancel the order. He offered no explanation of how or why this charge happened in the first place since “[they] are only a third-party.” I told him that regardless of canceling the order I still would be talking to my credit card company to dispute the charge.

Next, I did call my credit card company and reported what I described above. Their agent said that she saw the charge and noted that it was allowed to go through because the name and shipping address matched what they had on record for me. She said that my call was documented and that I could dispute the charge if the billing company did not cancel it themselves.

Then I realized that maybe the criminal used a different email address so that he could watch the shipment tracking and possibly intercept the package when it arrived at my door. I called the billing company back and spoke with a second customer service representative.

This new guy told me that they only had my name and address (and credit card number) on record but that there was no associated email address. Dang, there goes that theory! He then said that my product would be arriving in only a few days.

What? I thought the last guy canceled it! Turns out my auto-renewing account was canceled but that the product was still on the way! That was not what I wanted. The rep then told me that when I received the package and did not want it I could send it back with the RMA number he was about to give me. I was not going to do that. I told him that I’d be refusing the package and would dispute the charge with my credit card company regardless. I did not want to deal with an RMA number.

He then talked to his supervisor who did authorize a refund of the $49.95 charge. Supposedly that could take up to 5-10 business days. I also received a cancellation number. Seems fairly legit. I’ll closely be watching my credit card statement for that refund and will be updating this post with any new development.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar?

I’m at loss for an explanation. The Raspberry Ketone Strength website and terms and conditions isn’t helpful. There’s no contact information other than the number for the third party billing company. The only company name is listed as “Puerto Quellon LP.”

A quick Google search of that name does, in fact, bring up something similar. There’s a single recent mention of an entry on Ripoff Report describing a company trying to charge someone a monthly $49.95 to his bank card, which is directly connected to his checking account. (At least in my situation it goes through my credit card, which has better fraud/dispute resolution.)

This guy feels that the Puerto Quellon LP company must have gotten his details from his Amazon account.

I have bought a number of things recently from third party sellers (which were managed through Amazon). Everyone of them has good reviews and the products arrived correctly and in good condition.

The only thing that I can think of is that this Raspberry Ketone Strength company aka Puerto Quellon LP has fraudulently charged my credit card themselves. Not as many people go to the extreme that I have in tracking them down. Scamming the credit card companies out of a little money here and there might be their business model. Maybe the $49.95 charge is too small for the credit card companies to spend the time and money to pursue? This is all just entirely speculation, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Update (8/17/2014): Just checked my credit card statement and the billing company I called did keep their word. The $49.95 charge has been credited back to the account. I’ll be watching my credit statement even closer for the next few months because this does still seem kind of fishy.

Update (8/28/2014): I did a Google search and found another website discussing the exact same thing.

Also, an article from none other than the Cosmopolitan UK describes how people in the UK are finding it very difficult to cancel their trial of the product once they order it. There was an email address listed at the end of the article for victims to email in order to stay apprised of any potential court proceedings. I’ll post updates here if I hear back.

Update (9/2/2014): Andrew suggested that the scheme involves setting up a fake merchant account using stolen credit card information. What happens is that the relatively small charge is cleared by your bank because the name and address are correctly provided. Then, if you happen to notice the charge and call to cancel, the money is refunded. This sounds okay, but this actually allows the scam to keep going. What should be done instead is to keep the charge on the account, dispute it and get the chargeback, allowing the bank’s fraud department to track it down. Once more people do this, then the appropriate authorities will shut them down. Thanks, Andrew!

Update (9/11/2014): Thanks to everyone that has commented so far. Hopefully this blog and comments have been helpful in clarifying this scam and, if nothing else, letting other people know that they are not alone in this. In the comments Patricia has posted a good email that she is using to alert her friends. People have also been contacting various news agencies. Paul suggested contacting the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).

I’d also like to suggest a new strategy:
Many of us have actually, believe it or not, had success in calling the 888 number (the “third party” billing company) and asking for a refund. Now that I have read through the advice of commenters who deal with this kind of stuff in their professions, I think the strategy should be to not ask for a refund. As Andrew said (see 9/2/2014 update above), this only legitimizes them and allows them to keep the scam going. Instead, we should cancel the card and dispute the charge with our credit card company or bank. That way the big banks and their fraud departments will be the ones scrambling to find these scammers. As soon as we dispute the charge the $49.95 will be deposited back into our account since we have zero liability.

Update (9/16/2014): Please see the comment by Josh. He is a former employee of this “customer service company” and describes how the scam works. Very interesting and informative comment. He sounds like a great resource! Thanks for the message, Josh!

257 thoughts on “Raspberry Ketone Strength Scam?

  1. Matthew

    I agree with Patricia that the business probably isn’t really located in Florida, but if anyone wants to file a complaint or comment with the Florida Office of Consumer Affairs, their address is:
    Florida Department of Financial Services
    Division of Consumer Services
    200 East Gaines Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-0322

    Like Patricia, I tried to file a complaint online, but none of the choices in their online form really allowed for a full explanation of this situation, so I will be contacting them the old-fashioned way.

    P.S. Sorry about the plug for my own blog that appeared at the end of my previous post — I forgot to uncheck the “commentluv” box.

  2. Sue

    @Patricia. I too am sorry you got hit with this. Thanks so much for saving me the frustration of having to try to file a complaint with the FTC. Thanks for trying!!! I did not realize there was an Internet Criminal Complaint Center. I will try that. I also messaged the consumer reporter at the Fox channel here in Dallas. I am hoping he will investigate or get the word out about this.

    @Matthew, thanks for putting my mind at ease that this is not related to Target or Home Depot breach. Of course now I have the Russians breaching bank data to worry about.

  3. Patricia

    I encourage everyone on here to do everything they can to get news of this scam to the public. The last thing the perpetrators want and need is unwanted publicity. I don’t like being on the defensive and to feel like an anxious and helpless victim. It’s time to take an offensive stand, turn the tables on the perpetrators and make them feel like anxious and helpless victims!

  4. Sue

    @Patricia, I just called the Fox TV station and left a message. I agree that we got to get the word out about this. The more people are aware of these charges and take care of it, hopefully, the less likely they are to continue to do this.

    I am wondering if I can get the bank card companies to look for these charges and flag them as fraud requiring them to call us if they occur. I am going to ask my credit card bank.

  5. Patricia

    I commend your follow-up course of action! For us to be passive and silent is the same as allowing the perpetrators to continue their victimization. I cannot abide a thief! I am in the processing of composing a letter which I intend to send to BB&T and CapitalOne. In that letter, I will urge them to flag the $49.95 charge and the phone numbers that appeared on my accounts, as fraudulent. I will send my letter to FOX News as well … perhaps as an email to Greta, Judge Jeanine, or Bill O’Reilly. Also, if everyone who has posted here will let me know what phone number(s) appeared on your accounts, I will include those phone numbers in my letter. I will also include a link to this “Comments” page in my letter. Keep me posted and I will do the same!

  6. Patricia

    Update: This morning, I posted on Facebook, the following notice and I ask that you do likewise. (Feel free to reword it): 9-10-14 FRAUDULENT CREDIT/DEBIT CARD CHARGES WARNING! … THIS IS NOT A JOKE … PLEASE POST AND SHARE THIS IMMEDIATELY! … A company claiming to take online orders for health and weight-loss supplements (e.g. Raspberry Ketone Strength, Slimdown, etc.) is making a $49.95 unauthorized withdrawal from bank accounts, using stolen VISA, MasterCard and other credit card numbers. Please start monitoring your bank and credit card accounts! If you see this charge (that will appear on your account as a 10-digit phone number.com), report it immediately to your banking institution as fraudulent activity! Request that your compromised card be deactivated and request a new card. When you receive a replacement card, DO NOT USE it! Put pressure on the perpetrators and help shut them down by notifying your bank(s), the Internet Crime Complaint Center, your state’s attorney general’s office, and local and international news media sources! To read comments posted by victims of this widespread scam, go to: http://www.illiteratewithdrawal.com/tag/fraud/. Remember, in the last 12 months, 70 million Target (TGT) customers, 33 million Adobe (ADBE) users, 4.6 million Snapchat users, and 148 million eBay (EBAY) customers have had private information divulged in database breaches. Read more at http://www.westernjournalism.com/cyber-criminals-target-home-depot-customers/#Cj7xHe1oYK3V8U1z.99. THANK YOU!

  7. Derek

    The same thing just happened to me, on my Visa through Wells Fargo (49.95 from 888-385-2968.com, charge came through on 8/30). I don’t buy too much stuff online (usually through Amazon), but I did use this card on eBay occasionally, so I’m concerned that my number might have compromised that way. Who knows!

  8. Ellen Blackstone

    Me, too. Bogus charge to Fidelity MC. Absolutely had to have come thru a product I ordered thru Amazon 3rd party, Blue Skies, last spring. Not blaming Amazon. I put a dispute thru FIA Card Svcs, but the company, “Blue Skies,” known to the 24/7 Customer Service Online people as “Raspberry Ketone Strength,” credited me the $49.95, before the dispute got any further. I still think this is a serious consumer scam and wonder how many people have been taken, just because they don’t review their credit card bills. Amazon needs to know about this, too, IMO.

  9. Patricia

    UPDATE — I have sent an email notification of this scam/crime to FOX News and three local TV news stations. I am also routing an email notification to my friends, family and co-workers. Please do what you can to help me warn the public! The perpetrators do not want this scam reported, publicized and exposed! Thank you!

  10. Patricia

    UPDATE: The email notification that I am sending is as follows:

    September 10, 2014—FINANCIAL PII SECURITY BREACH ALERT—FRAUDULENT CREDIT/DEBIT CARD CHARGES—THIS IS NO HOAX—PLEASE READ AND PASS ON! Perpetrators of a scam, posing as a legitimate third party “Customer Service” entity, are using stolen VISA, MASTERCARD and BANK DEBIT CARD numbers to post an unauthorized charge of $49.95, allegedly for “ordered” health and weight-loss supplements like Raspberry Ketone Strength, Slimdown, etc.

    If you are not already doing so, please start monitoring your bank and credit card accounts several times a day. The $49.95 charge will appear on your statement as a 10-digit toll-free number.com. The most prevalently used origin of the phone number is Florida.

    If you are victimized and call the phone number, the company will verify your name, address and card number and state that you placed an online order for the product! They may or may not accept your explanation of fraud. They may or may not grant you a refund. If you do receive a refund, it will be because the perpetrators do not want to attract unnecessary attention to their scam. They are counting on pocketing $49.95 from people who do not regularly monitor their accounts, or who do not bother to dispute the charge(s).

    Incidentally, the accounts of many victims are being “hit” multiple times, regardless of whether you deactivate a card, or whether the bogus company debits a refund, because the company will then claim that you signed up for a monthly recurring charge. If you see this charge (or any other debit amount of unknown origin) post to your account, please take the following immediate actions:

    1. Report the transaction to the fraud department of your financial institution. Make sure that your bank contacts the bogus company and requests a chargeback instead of asking the company for a refund yourself, for the following reasons: a) the perpetrators need to know that they are being investigated, and b) if the bogus company refunds your money, they will just “hit” your account again;

    2. Request that your compromised debit/credit card be deactivated;

    3. Request a replacement card, but when you receive it, do not use it anywhere for a while, to see if the unauthorized charges continue, or if they stop. Definitely, do not order anything via the internet, as the security breach may involve PayPal, Amazon.com, as well as other major online merchants like EBAY;

    4. Request your bank to “flag” the phone number and $49.95 charge as fraudulent and instruct them to not allow this charge to post to your account again. The accounts of many victims are being “hit” multiple times, regardless of whether the bogus company debits a refund;

    5. Put pressure on the perpetrators of this scam/crime and warn other potential victims by filing a fraud complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, your State Attorney General’s office, your local law enforcement agency, and local/national news media sources. Facebook and Twitter are additional media sources that you can use to get the word out. Until the mastermind and perpetrators of this crime are located and shut down, they want to avoid publicity and exposure!

    To read comments posted by victims concerning this widespread scam, go to: http://www.illiteratewithdrawal.com/tag/fraud/. Remember, in the last 12 months, 70 million Target (TGT) customers, 33 million Adobe (ADBE) users, 4.6 million Snapchat users, and 148 million eBay (EBAY) customers, customers of several banks including JP Morgan Chase, and more recently, Home Depot, all have had PII divulged in database breaches. Read more at http://www.westernjournalism.com/cyber-criminals-target-home-depot-customers/#Cj7xHe1oYK3V8U1z.99.

  11. Bill

    AND I GOT SCAMMED TOO. $49.95 NOT GOOD… After a bunch of phone calling, I found out who it was and did get my money back. Hope you all do the same. jwm

  12. Matthew

    Wow, Patricia, thanks for posting the text of your email — you did a great job summarizing all the info! I am not a member of Facebook, so I can’t post anything there, but I’m pretty active on Tumblr and will post the info there, and will also communicate it to my town forum (actually a Yahoo Group), which has over 2200 members.

    Someone asked people to post the 800 numbers listed on the transaction on our bank statements — here’s mine: 888-524-1619. Interestingly, when I originally saw the transaction, it also said “Pinellas Park, FL” but that has gone away, and now it just says the phone number dot com.

    And also, I never used the affected card on eBay either, in addition to not using it on Amazon, though I’m not discounting having possibly used it someplace that uses Amazon’s platform for their payments. And Patricia in your email text you mentioned PayPal — I did have the affected card registered with PayPal, though I never in years have used it to pay for anything because, being an Etsy seller, I always have a PayPal balance to use.

  13. Tracy

    Sept 10, 2014
    To all those out there being scammed by the “Company” Raspberryketonestrength.com, please call your credit card, debit card, institutions and report this FAKE COMPANY now!!! As of today this is the second time I had to call this same company and get a refund for a product I NEVER ordered. The first time this happened to me it was in August 2014 and now again in September 2014. The first time this happened, I simply called the number attached to the withdrawal of this suspicious amount of $49.95 in my account, that I knew nothing about. The person I spoke to issued me a refund and the money was returned to my account the next day. I thought nothing of it but I told myself to keep a watch out for this to happen again. And it did!!!! I called the company once again and demanded my money be returned!!!! I then told the representative I was contacting the police, the fraud department at my credit union, and the Better Business Bureau. I hung up on them and went straight to my credit union and explained what happened. My credit union then blocked their transaction number from my debit card number/account and issued me a new card. ****DO NOT WORRY**** The refund can be placed back into your account, however, no more money can be withdrawn from your (now) closed account. Yes this is a pain in the ASS, but it had to be taken care of at once, in order for it to not happen again. If this happens to you, PLEASE contact your banks, credit union, credit card company, etc…. and report it ASAP!!! If it is reported enough times by multiple people, an investigation will get started and this SCAM will come to an end.
    Tracy

  14. Patricia

    Gentlemen, Ladies … Let’s work together to shut down this scam/crime operation! If you haven’t already done so, get the word out using every available venue of communication and publication! I can’t abide a thief and I’m ticked off! $49.95 may not seem like a lot of money to people who maintain account balances of thousands and millions of dollars, but these crooks could increase the charge and start playing real hard ball!

  15. Pete

    Sad…but guess I’m not alone. I got charged twice on 8/06 and 9/09 for 49.95 for this Raspberry Ketone Strength dietary supplement. I been going onto their LIVE CHAT and spoke to a Brandon, a Ryan, and a Tony who were helpful but for some reason I feel like they are all in on this scam.
    Note that the return address is 1581 W. 49th Street, Hialeah, FL 33012….I GOOGLE Map this address and it’s a UPS STORE. If a private eye just stake that store, we’ll catch the person behind this.
    Well, I requested a refund for the 9/09 charge and to end any recurrent charges BUT as for the 8/06 charge, they said that order has already been delivered BUT I never got the shipment. They can’t even give me a tracking number for the UPS SHIPMENT. So I told them to resend that order and was told I’ll get it in 5-7 days. OK…I’ll wait for it.

  16. Paul

    My experience pretty much echoes most posts. The first fraudulent charge ($49.95) was refunded by the company and I thought it was over. Another $49.95 charge hit a month later. This time I was told I had actually ordered a “subscription.” I filed a fraud charge with my bank and submitted a complaint to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov). The “billing” firm, or supposed go-between for RaspberryKetoneStrength.com and their “customers,” said I placed my order on the internet, hence my filing with IC3. The first time my bank said to wait and see if I got the refund. The second time it happened I told my bank to cancel by bank card. The bank refunded my money this time.

  17. Scott

    @Pete, UPS store and it is in Florida too? Everything seems to point to this group being in Florida somewhere. Hopefully with enough people complaining to their credit card companies and reporting this to various other government agencies, something will be done.

    Maybe the strategy should be to not call them up to get a refund. Instead, cancel the card and dispute the charge with the credit card company. That way the big banks and their fraud departments will be the ones scrambling to find the scammers. We have zero liability so will get our money back.

  18. Patricia

    I agree Scott. We also need to ascertain HOW these crooks obtained our PII. That’s why I’m not going to shop online for a season using my new replacement bank cards. In other words, we need to find out if the security breach involves our banking institutions, or whether it involves online merchants that we have conducted business with or through (PayPal, Amazon, eBAY, etc.) Through the news, we know that JP Morgan Chase, Bank America, Target, eBAY and Home Depot were hacked. I’ve heard through word of mouth that Amazon was also breached. My card numbers through BB&T and CapitalOne were “hit” with this scam. A co-worker’s card numbers through BB&T and City National were “hit.” And, yet, not EVERY customer of these banks have been targeted by this scam, including my employer who banks at BB&T! If everyone was affected, this scam would definitely be HEADLINE news! This tells me that our PII must have been obtained through online merchants when we place orders for products because their accounts were breached. So, as long as we deactivate our compromised cards and don’t use our new replacement cards to shop online for a season, this “test” should give us a clue as to the origin of the security breach. What do you think?

  19. Paul

    I have no idea if this is related, but it is a coincidence if nothing else. This past year the company that handles our payroll had a security breach of their computer systems. We were informed to contact our banks if we use direct deposit (which I do) and to join All Clear ID at the company’s expense for one year (which I did). Ironically, All Clear ID did not capture this fraudulent activity, which might be further indication of clever the scam is. In any case, I can add Wells Fargo to the list of institutions affect the the Raspberry scam. Since it was my bank card number that was used instead of seeing a direct withdrawal from my checking account, I’m skeptical that the payroll security breach is the source of info for the theft.

  20. Patricia

    I’ve just filed an online complaint with the following additional agencies:

    Florida Better Business Bureau – Scam Alert Dept.
    Florida’s Chief Financial Officer – Dept. of Financial Services, Consumer Services

  21. Peggy

    I’ve been chgd 3 x -Twice in 2 days @ 49.95
    All since 8/4/14

    Called my back and they cancelled my debit card.

    Same fraudulent company… Raspberry Ketone Strength.

    Thanks for putting this info out here…I’m posting on Facebook so all my friends will know to be aware.

    I can’t believe they are so brazen to try and take the $49.95 out 2 days apart.

    I’m headed to fill out a fraud report now at my bank.

    I hope you thieves read this….Hialeah, Fl address helps immensely.

    Thank you all. I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore~

  22. Pat

    Reported four of these from three different “companies” and was told there were two more rebills pending.
    They hit once a couple of weeks ago, and when that didn’t get flagged, they ran it five more times in two days. It’s pretty obvious to the bank what is going on.

  23. Patricia

    UPDATE: I have good news! Yesterday, I received a letter from my state’s attorney general’s office. My complaint has been reviewed and an investigator has been assigned to this scam! More news … Yesterday, I filed an online BBB complaint regarding the Pinellas, FL, 10-digit phone number that one of you provided. That complaint was forwarded to the BBB office in Clear Water, FL. By email, I also alerted Amazon.com of this scam. In response, I received the following “unsettling” email from an Amazon C.S. Rep: “Hello, I am sorry for the inconvenience you experienced in this case. I completely understand your disappointment. That’s definitely not what we want our customers to experience, I’m glad you contacted us. I really don’t want to you see in more trouble and would like to make things simple for you. Since your issue is related to your account and we need to verify few security questions related to your account, payment methods etc and it is not safe to get account details via email due to security reasons. After looking into your inquiry, I feel we could best resolve this concern for you over the phone. This way, you can speak to our live customer support team who can ensure we resolve this concern to your satisfaction. I realize that, at this point, asking you to contact us again would be disappointing; however, we really feel that the best way to assist you with this concern is over the phone. Your patience and understanding are greatly appreciated. Please request a call from our Customer Service department. Here’s how:
    1. Visit http://www.amazon.com/help
    2. Click the orange “Contact Us” button on the main Amazon Help page.
    3. Click the “Skip sign in” button.
    4. Click the “Call us” button and enter your phone number in the window.
    5. Choose a time frame (“Right Now” or “In 5 minutes”) and click “Submit.” We’ll call you right back!

    You can also give us a call at our toll free number: 1-866-216-1072. Customers outside the United States can call 1-206-266-2992. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re working hard to provide a stress-free and convenient shopping experience at Amazon.com. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you experienced in this case. Thank you for your cooperation and patience. We look forward to assisting you. Best regards, Deepak K.”

    Folks, am I the only one that is disturbed by this email? Sorry, but I wasn’t born on a turnip wagon. I have no intention of calling Deepak to verify security information concerning my account! For all I know, he may be playing some role in this scam. Any major online merchant, including Amazon, could conceivably hire a crook without realizing it and that person could serve as an inside person to divulge PII to scammers. I’m also wary about this because both of the C.S. Reps at the bogus company that I dealt with spoke with a foreign accent. Does anyone have any thoughts to share about this?

  24. Scott

    @Patricia, Thanks for the updates. That’s great news that the state’s attorney general and the BBB are looking into it. I think it is also good the way that Amazon contacted you. It would have been alarming if they requested personal information over email. I’d go ahead and give Amazon a call on their toll-free number. I can almost guarantee that you will not be speaking with Deepak. They have so many customer service agents that the chances of that happening are slim to none. Remember how you weren’t going to use this card attached to Amazon for awhile, just in case? Verifying other aspects of the account with Amazon would be perfectly fine.

    In my field I work with doctors with foreign accents all the time and other than sometimes being a little more difficult to understand, they are great, well intentioned people. Not everyone out there is a scammer.

    Anyway, thanks again for going to the trouble of contacting these various groups and companies! Hopefully they’ll be caught sooner rather than later!

  25. Patricia

    Thanks, Scott, for the feedback. Your response has made me feel more comfortable about calling Amazon. I will let everyone know what transpires during that conversation.

  26. Patricia

    UPDATE: Scott, this afternoon I visited Amazon.com and requested a callback. When I heard the Reps foreign accent, I told her not to be offended, but that I was having difficulty understanding her. I asked her to please transfer me to an English-speaking Rep and I was connected to a very nice lady named Carol, located in the U.S. After explaining about all of this, she assured me that Amazon’s Reps do not have access to Amazon customers PII and bank card numbers. As for card numbers, they can only see the last 4-digits because they are encrypted. Had she been me, she would have also assumed the same thing, when the second unauthorized charge posted to my MasterCard account at the same time that I placed an order with Amazon for a different product also priced at $49.95, using that card. Anyway, she has made sure that every credit/debit card that I’ve ever used at Amazon has been deactivated. She has flagged my account for fraudulent activity and will summarize our conversation in their computer system. She also made a note of the link for this comments page in case someone wants to read the comments of other victims. By the way, she did not know that Amazon sells Raspberry Ketone Strength until I told her. Of course, this product is probably sold by a multitude of online vendors. Anyway, I told her that I was still not going to use my new cards online for a while, to see if the unauthorized charge stops, or continues.

  27. DCurliss

    THANK YOU for this! Did a quick google search and found this blog. We took your advice, and my husband is calling Wells Fargo right now to dispute the charges. We also buy EVERYTHING from Amazon, I am wondering if that’s where these scammers got our info? The customer service rep was also very nice and friendly, my husband was literally on hold to talk to a supervisor so the charges could be reversed but I saw your advice about disputing the charges. So- like I said- we’re doing that now. I’ll update when we get this resolved. Praying we all get our money back and these losers get what’s coming to them!

  28. DCurliss

    Already have an update 🙂 The fraud dept at Wells Fargo said “We’ve been seeing a lot of these.” So thankfully people are disputing these! What a mess. We cancelled our card and have to go through the process of calling all the places we pay our bills through that card, but it’s better than being scammed out of hundreds of dollars. Thanks again for this post and all the people who commented!

  29. Matthew

    Patricia, it sounds like your call to Amazon went well.

    I have been feeling a little discouraged today. I mentioned previously that we have a community forum here — actually a Yahoo group run by residents on a volunteer basis — and I posted there some info about my scam experience both to warn people and to see if anyone else had had problems, and I got MANY replies, but here’s the thing — while nobody else experienced the $49.95 Raspberry Ketone besides me, other people had all different kinds of credit/debit card fraud experiences to report, some caused by breaches at smaller (non-national) businesses that have never been publicized in the press, another possibly related to a “reader” (credit card number skimmer) on a particular machine, and a local businessman who has been hit several times was told by the Chase fraud department that some scammers are just using a random number generator and trying every number until they get a hit.

    With so many dishonest people trying to get our money, it seems like the only solution is to return to a totally cash existence, which also means never purchasing or paying for anything online again!

  30. Patricia

    Matthew, I understand and empathize with your discouragement! Due to the activity of “skimmers,” I am considering writing checks at places like Wal-Mart, Kroger and other local stores. I have always used cash to pay for gasoline and I’m glad I have because of the skimmer threat. Although my phone conversation with Amazon was positive, I still refuse to use my replacement cards online. I really want to see if these charges stop, or continue. In the meantime, I’m resolved to check my credit card and bank accounts several times/day, for any sign of fraudulent activity. Hang in there, everyone, and continue to fight these bums! I will continue to monitor and post updates to this site.

  31. Scott

    @Matthew, I’ve had to cancel one of my other cards a few years ago because some person in China had randomly generated it and used it to purchase some stuff there. Fortunately, I actually got a call from the fraud department and they had already stopped those orders.

    @Patricia, thanks for the update on Amazon! Hopefully more people like you will call in to make them aware of this scam.

    I personally hope we don’t return to all cash and check writing. For one, if we lose the cash or it gets stolen, there is no recourse. At least the credit card by itself has no intrinsic value. Second, cash or check writing would make online purchasing much more difficult.

    What needs to be done is for the United States to get rid of all swipe machines and quickly transition over to the pin & chip technology that I mentioned earlier. This will be happening fairly soon. The credit card companies have already said that if merchants do not switch over to a pin & chip reader by Oct 2015, the merchants (and not the credit card companies) will be liable for all fraud. That is not something that merchants want to deal with so, I’d imagine, will be quickly getting the readers.

    The pin & chip system will stop the skimming threat once cards no longer have the magnetic stripe. This system allows a secure method of paying relying on a card with the embedded chip AND a correct pin to be entered at time of purchase.

    The problem with the pin & chip cards is for online payments. Currently they still rely on entering the usual 16-digit credit card number. Therefore, this is still very much open to the type of scam that we are all experiencing through the Raspberry Ketone thing.

    Regardless if you like or use Apple products, Apple is revolutionizing the payment industry through its Apple Pay system. If we use Apple Pay (currently available only on the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch) a dynamic account number and code are used for each transaction. None of our actual account information is shared with the merchants. If someone were to steal the dynamic account number while it was being transmitted, he would accomplish nothing. Each code is only single use. Apple is partnering with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and soon Discover, for this system, and, in fact, is using the tokenization technology that these companies have developed.

    While other companies (Google with its Google Wallet for one) have tried to start something similar, it has yet to take hold. My hope is that Apple will eventually open up Apple Pay to its operating system as well so that we will be able to use it regardless of if we have our iPhone with us. Transitioning all our payments to this tokenization system will significantly cut back or even stop credit card fraud.

    And, unlike the companies before it, Apple has enough clout to jump start this process for everyone, not just those with Apple products.

  32. Patricia

    Thanks for sharing this proposed futuristic technology that has the potential to hinder or stop cyber theft!

  33. John

    Exact same thing just happened to me. I reported them to my credit card company. Also saw another charge for the exact same amount come from a company called ‘pureclean’. No contact number was available or an address, just that it was a phone or internet purchase.

  34. Patricia

    UPDATE: Today, my employer gave me permission to send the following EMAIL ALERT to over 100 co-workers. Feel free to COPY and SHARE this!

    September 10, 2014—FINANCIAL PII SECURITY BREACH ALERT—FRAUDULENT CREDIT/DEBIT CARD CHARGES—THIS IS NO HOAX—PLEASE READ AND PASS ON! Perpetrators of a scam, posing as a legitimate third party “Customer Service” entity, are targeting customers of BB&T, JP Morgan Chase, City National, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, CapitalOne (and possibly other financial institutions)—using stolen PII (names, addresses, and VISA, MASTERCARD and BANK DEBIT CARD numbers)—to post an unauthorized charge of $49.95, allegedly for “online ordered” health and weight-loss supplements like Raspberry Ketone Strength, Slimdown, etc.

    If you are not already doing so, please start monitoring your bank and credit card accounts several times a day. The $49.95 charge will appear on your statement as a 10-DIGIT TOLL-FREE NUMBER.COM. The most prevalent origin of the phone number is Florida.

    If you are victimized and call the phone number, the bogus company will verify your name, address and card number and state that you placed an online order for the product. They may or may not accept your explanation of fraud. They may or may not grant you a refund. If you do receive a refund, it will be because the perpetrators do not want to attract unnecessary attention to their scam. They are counting on pocketing $49.95 from people who do not regularly monitor their accounts, or who do not bother to dispute the charge(s).

    The accounts of many victims are being “hit” multiple times, regardless of whether a card is deactivated, or whether the bogus company charges back a refund. If this happens, the company will then claim that you signed up for a membership monthly recurring charge. If you see this charge (or any other debit amount of unknown origin) post to your account, please take the following immediate actions:

    1. Report the transaction to the fraud department of your financial institution. Make sure that your bank contacts the bogus company and requests a chargeback instead of asking the company for a refund yourself, for the following reasons: a) the perpetrators need to know that they are being investigated, and b) if the bogus company refunds your money, they will just “hit” your account again;

    2. Request that your compromised debit/credit card be deactivated;

    3. Request a replacement card, but when you receive it, do not use it anywhere for a while, to see if the unauthorized charges continue, or if they stop. Definitely, do not order anything via the internet, as the security breach could possibly involve PayPal, Amazon.com, as well as other major online merchants like eBAY. If you are concerned that such a breach has occurred, contact these merchants;

    4. Request your bank to “flag” the phone number and $49.95 charge as fraudulent and instruct them to not allow this charge to post to your account again. The accounts of many victims are being “hit” multiple times, regardless of whether the bogus company issues a refund;

    5. Since your PII has been compromised, you should immediately contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and request an Initial 90-Day Fraud Alert. If you contact Equifax first, they will automatically contact the other two credit bureaus for you;

    6. Put pressure on the perpetrators of this crime and warn other potential victims by filing a fraud complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center; the State Attorney General’s office and Better Business Bureau of your state and Florida; your local law enforcement agency, and local/national news media sources. Facebook and Twitter are additional media sources that you can use to get the word out. Until the perpetrators of this crime are located and shut down, they will want to avoid publicity and exposure.

    To read comments posted by victims concerning this widespread scam, go to: http://www.illiteratewithdrawal.com/tag/fraud/. Remember, in the last 12 months, 70 million Target (TGT) customers, 33 million Adobe (ADBE) users, 4.6 million Snapchat users, and 148 million eBay (EBAY) customers, customers of several banks including JP Morgan Chase, and more recently, Home Depot, all have had PII divulged in database breaches. Read more at http://www.westernjournalism.com/cyber-criminals-target-home-depot-customers/#Cj7xHe1oYK3V8U1z.99.

  35. Josh

    Hello guys! I know a little about how everything with Raspberry Ketone Strength works, so I’ll let you know. I’ve read some of the comments that you guys have written and you’re right but you don’t know everything about it so I want to say what I know and I hope it helps you. I have my reasons to report this company.
    I used to work for this costumer service so probably when any of you called I answered and “helped” you.
    Yes, guys we’re a call center with over 100 agents receiving lots of calls the whole day, from all The USA and them all for the same reason “a costumer saw a charge for $49.95 on the bank statement and wanted to know why he/she was charged, who we are, where we are located etc”
    Just to let you know guys, we are just agents answering the phone, we didn’t charge you anything, we didn’t take your money, we didn’t steal your money. We were just doing our job “answering calls” and lying, yes guys lying as much as possible, sadly. The people who work there is because they need the money, it wasn’t our fault!!
    If someone called, obviously It was because got a charge but to check it out on the system we needed the first four digits and the last four digits of the card charged, the zip code, or the name and last name of the card holder.
    We had a system with the costumer information, basically the First name, Last name, the address.
    The main idea consisted in deceiving the costumer telling that someone made a purchase online of a product called Raspberry Ketone Strength and we were a third party company, an outsourcing company that provided them costumer service but we weren’t raspberry ketone.
    Everything is 100% scam, of course nobody ordered this product and of course It was never sent however, we had to convince the costumer that someone got his/her information and ordered this product on raspberryketonestrenght.com. For sure the costumer said that he/she never purchased anything online and wanted the money back. We had to provide information as the name and last name of the costumer and the “shipping address” to make the costumer believe that the information was gotten by someone and of course some people got scared because it’s the whole costumer information. Besides, when the costumer asked for the refund of the money we had to offer a bottle of raspberry ketone instead of the refund because whoever ordered the product accepted the terms and conditions from the website so the refund couldn’t be made but that was another lie… well, basically we had to save the refund because if we saved the refund, it’d be more money for the company..
    However when someone insisted so much for the refund, we had to pretend that we were going to call our billing department to explain to them the situation. (This billing department doesn’t exist). Once we placed the costumer on hold, we worked on the system to process the refund which would take from seven to ten business days. But yes, the costumer receives the money back.
    Sometimes we received calls from the bank’s fraud department like Capital One, Bank of America, Chase Bank etc and when a call from a bank was received, we had to process the refund immediately.
    In other words we had to lie as much as possible to save the refunds, pretend that we weren’t scam, only costumer service for raspberry ketone and we didn’t know anything about the charge.
    Our salary as costumer service agents didn’t depend at all from the money that this company steals.
    As agents and as our job we did what we had to do and that’s it.
    And one of the more important things is where we were! When a costumer asked: “where are you located?, where are you from? We were forced to say that we were located in Miami Florida and the name of the company is costumer support or costumer support corporation, or costumer support corporate..
    We are NOT even located in the USA, this is a small call center which does this fraudulent things as you already know. We’re located in San José, Costa Rica in Central America. That’s the reason of our Spanish accent, however the owners of this company are Americans who live in the USA.
    The name of this company (call center) is CRI Online Sales S.A. . Even though I don’t even know and have no idea how your money is taken from your debit or credit cards and who takes all this stolen money. Our supervisors don’t even know either.
    This place works in Costa Rica as a S.A. (corporation) which provides costumer service so it doesn’t have any trouble with the law.
    Any of you should call them, letting them know that you already know where this company is located. And please spread the word in order to stop this scam! Call the FBI to report it, CNN, Fox News, CBS or even The Judicial Investigation Department (the institution in charge, here in Costa Rica. Similar to FBI) http://www.poder-judicial.go.cr/ however as I said before, It works in a legal way here.
    Fortunately, I’m not part of it anymore. I don’t fool people over the phone anymore!!
    I tell you guys because I didn’t feel comfortable doing this and due to I have reasons to report it. There are a lot of people being stolen by this company every single day…I’d like to see the owners of this company in jail as well. If any of you need any further information or has any doubt, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’d more than glad to help you as much as possible because somehow this scam must be stopped.

  36. Patricia

    Josh — I commend and thank you for being conscientious and forthright! On behalf of each victim of this scam that has posted comments on this website, I have notified every investigative source that I have filed a complaint with. If the jurisdiction of this scam warrants the involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, my State Attorney General’s office will contact that agency. Thank you again!

  37. Patricia

    UPDATE –Today, I filed a direct report with the FBI not realizing that the Internet Crime Center is part of that agency. I also filed a complaint with “Ripoff Report.” I’m working diligently to get the word out, so please join me. If “Ripoff Report” receives five complaints, they will publish this scam on their “Top Scam” list. Thanks!

  38. Matthew

    Update:

    @Patricia, I filed a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, and also with Ripoff Report. On the latter, I found three other reports almost identical to mine (one of them might have been yours), so we only need one more to get up to the required five. Thank you for sharing with us that excellent email which consolidates all of the strategies we’ve been discussing here so well.

    @Josh, thank you for the explanation, and for your courage in coming forth and sharing with us. I don’t blame you at all. I actually know other people (in person) who went to work for call centers and later found out that the product or service was fraudulent, but still needed the job. One question that still remains, however (and you may not know the answer), is how the system got our information and credit card numbers to begin with. It still seems that there must have been a breach somewhere — either online, or at some national chain that such a widespread group of people all shopped at.

    On the positive side, the 1-month “anniversary” of my scammed charge has come and gone and the new card has not been hit. Of course, that could be because by that date, I hadn’t used the new card anywhere even once! On the nervous side, I have now used the card once, to make my monthly contribution to my congressman, and I’ll be REALLY upset if that’s where the breach is!

  39. Brandon

    I had the exact same thing happen to me this month. I’m currently on hold while he speaks with the “billing department.” Everything that Josh said is exactly what I got. The only thing is that my customer service rep told me that was different than what Josh explained was the they were located in Miami, Florida. The rep just now told me that their systems are down and the he escalated it up and to call back in seven days to make sure I receive my refund. There is no way, especially if they’re located in Miami, that this can be legal.

  40. Jacob

    I have been charged the $49.95 three times. Once each month for the last three months. Thank you for all the information. I have been getting the run around from the customer service agency and now I know why. Definitely reporting this scam!

  41. Josh

    @Matthew, I don’t even know how they got your credit card numbers but what the systems shows is for example in this way: 453931******0833 so we didn’t even know all the numbers.
    Whoever do this must be really smart, and the amount of people who are being affected is huge. I left that company a couple of months ago but I recently heard that this call center was hiring people so It means that their business is increasing, and they’ve already been doing this scam in my country for four years. It isn’t something new.

    @Brandon, part of the “script” was to say that we were in Miami, Florida but I can assure that They aren’t even in The United States. There were sometimes some issues with the system and the process of the refund failed so we had to escalate it to an internal department however, I’m sure that you’re going to receive the refund.

  42. Patricia

    MATTHEW, you are welcome and I’m glad to know that your accounts haven’t been hit again! So far, so good on my end, too, so I’m relatively sure that the security breach involving my PII did not happen via my banking institutions or by a local scanner thief. I think the strategy of not using our new cards online is key. With all of us working together to get the word out … hopefully, these cyber-thieves will be tracked down, apprehended and put out of business soon. Some people are amazed that I would spend so much time and effort filing complaint after complaint. My answer is: These crooks targeted the WRONG person. As an ordained minister, I would gladly give the shirt off my back to anyone in need. As the daughter of a police officer and detective, I cannot and will not abide a thief!

  43. Patricia

    JOSH, Thank you again for coming forth with what you know about this scam. The information you have provided will help law enforcement agencies track down the “owners” and put them out of business.

  44. Scott

    Everyone, I wanted to let you know that another employee of the CRI Online Sales company emailed me directly and independently confirmed what Josh said above. This person said that he felt bad and that he just needed a job. He tried to get more information about how they got our credit card numbers and information but was unable to.

    I tried asking him about the who is listed as the payer of his checks, bank that processes his pay, etc, but he may have already closed his email account as he said he was going to.

    Josh, do you know any of this information? It may help our law enforcement agencies find the owners. I can contact you directly through email if you’d prefer that.

    Thanks again to Josh and others for having the courage to come forward and do the right thing. I feel that the employees are truly just needing a job and may not even understand that this scam is going on.

  45. Patricia

    I want to share the following email received today from the Florida Attorney General’s office. That office has provided helpful agency contact information and web links:

    “Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has received your correspondence regarding unauthorized charges to your debit card. Attorney General Bondi has directed me to respond on her behalf.

    Thank you for notifying us of this matter. The Florida Attorney General’s Office is concerned with all potentially unfair and deceptive trade practices in our state. We are forwarding your information to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for review.

    Additionally, I understand that you are trying to resolve this issue with the company, so I am forwarding your complaint to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS), Division of Consumer Services. The DACS serves as the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints and has a voluntary mediation program to help individual consumers. To follow up on your complaint you may contact DACS at:

    Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
    Division of Consumer Services
    Telephone: (850) 410-3800
    Toll-free within FL: (800) 435-7352
    Website: http://www.800helpfla.com/

    We also encourage you to contact the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a federal consumer agency which reviews complaints about banks, credit and debit cards, and other financial products. To file a complaint with the CFPB, contact:

    U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    Phone: (855) 411-2372
    Website: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/

    You may also reach out to the following consumer organizations:

    Federal Trade Commission
    Toll-free: (877) 382-4357
    Website: http://www.ftc.gov

    Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
    Website: http://www.ic3.gov

    The following websites provide important information which may prove helpful to you as you dispute the charges with your bank or credit card company:

    Disputing Credit Card Charges
    http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0219-fair-credit-billing

    Someone took money from my account without my permission. What can I do?
    http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/1069/someone-took-money-my-account-without-my-permission-what-can-i-do.html

    How Do I Recover My Money?
    http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/1017/i-discovered-debit-cardonlineatmautomatic-deduction-transaction-i-did-not-authorize-how-do-i-recover-my-money.html

    Finally, Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act offers individuals a private remedy to bring an action for actual damages, attorney’s fees and court costs. If you need legal guidance, please consult a private attorney. An attorney can provide the legal advice and opinions our office is not at liberty to offer individual citizens. The Florida Bar provides a Lawyer Referral Service toll-free at (800) 342-8011. The Florida Bar’s website is located at http://www.floridabar.org/.

    Thank you for contacting Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office. We hope this information will prove helpful to you.

    Sincerely,

    Josh Martin
    Office of Citizen Services
    Florida Attorney General’s Office
    PL-01, The Capitol
    Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1050
    Telephone: (850) 414-3990
    Toll-free within Florida: (866) 966-7226
    Website: http://www.myfloridalegal.com

  46. Patricia

    Thanks, Scott, for your recently update. I pray that more former and current employees of CRI Online Sales S.A. will post on this site.

  47. GregFromCos

    Will say that Josh’s story seems to ring true and matches pretty much everything I assumed.

    The only thing I will say about Florida is this. When I called my CC company, they said the bank that they paid out to was in Florida. So I still do think there is a Florida connection, based on my bank. Not anything that was said.

    This has kind of solidified a few things for me.
    1) I will never use a debit card attached to my actual bank. One step of separation is good.
    2) I’m just going to have to get used to changing my CC multiple times a year.
    3) I think we just have to assume our transactions are not secure, and always check your statement at least weekly.

  48. Matthew

    @GregFromCos, you wrote “1) I will never use a debit card attached to my actual bank. One step of separation is good.”

    I thought all debit cards were attached to bank accounts — what other kinds of debit cards are there?

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