CONSUMER ALERT: Woman issues warning after falling for free trial scam
The Better Business Bureau says during the pandemic, there's been a spike in complaints about free trial offers which end up being a trap.
Those offers include products using fake celebrity endorsements, and the popular television show Shark Tank.
Now, one area woman is fighting to get her money back and is now hoping to warn others about those free trial scams.
Sheri Jo Posselt regrets clicking buy on a Keto Fit Facebook ad.
"I thought it was a free trial, they said just shipping, and my bank account ended up being $-249!" said Posselt.
She then filed a complaint with the BBB, saying the ad for Keto Fit weight loss pills used Shark Tank Investors' pictures and logos, which she said made it sound very believable.
Shark Tank has released a video, telling consumers that before they buy, they should go to ABC's official Shark Tank website (found by
) to see a full list of all businesses which have been on their show.
That list doesn't include Keto Fit.
"We've seen ads that claim to have been endorsed by Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Sandra Bullock, Shark Tank investors, and some of these celebrities have actually sued these companies, and we welcome that because they need to be brought to justice and know that they can't fake these type of endorsements and get away with it," says Susan Bach of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau.
The BBB is tracking the free trial fraud.
During the last three years, the BBB has logged more than 58,000 complaints on deceptive offers.
In that time, the FBI's internet crime complaint center reports people losing more than $19 million to the scams.
Posselt says she let the seller know she felt duped.
"I said I can't trust you to take money out, why would I trust you to put something in my mouth and eat something that you're selling, I just can't trust you," said Posselt.
The BBB says trial offers can be tricky, and a monthly subscription can be buried in small print.
Legally, companies have to provide clear disclosure.
In addition, credit card companies have new policies to fight free trial offer scams.
"They're requiring that the consumer be notified before that free trial offer ends, and before they accept payment," said Bach.
However, if you get taken, like Posselt did, you should report a bad ad.
"File a complaint, it will help you with a problem you're having with a company because we have a better chance of getting a response than perhaps you as an individual do, because the company knows if they don't reply or respond, it'll have a negative impact on the rating that we give them," says Bach.
The report will also help others wade through the sea of scams.