What To Do If You Have Been Scammed

What to do if you have been scammed - if you think you have been a victim of one of those online work-from-home scams, you may be feeling upset right now but there's no way you should just give up on it and move on. If you know what to do to report the scam, then you can get your money back. You need to calm down and think a little coherently though, before taking the right steps.

What To Do If You Have Been Scammed

Have You Really Been Scammed?

Make-money-online, work-from-home scams typically promise an overnight wealth for zero effort, but the actual products are an overwhelming volume of outdated ebooks or training videos. They're incomprehensive and totally useless in a practical sense but as a quantity, they have a monetary value. 

In other words, you may have been misled and sent a bad product, but you did get what you had paid for. It's technically difficult to say you've been 'scammed'. With all that said, you are still entitled to claim your money back for receiving the wrong product. No time to regret, you should take action as soon as you can because the longer you leave it, the less you'll be bothered about it all.

What Do You Know About The Seller?

I don't want to sound harsh, but I often feel that some people may "deserve to be scammed" by making their payment recklessly without checking who the seller is.

Why am I saying this? Because I receive a lot of "requests for a refund". Some of them seem absolutely furious, threaten to report me to FBI if I don't respond within 24 hours... 

And no, I'm not the seller of any products. I write reviews.

You see, instead of contacting the seller (scammer) directly, these people would Google search the product name and arrive at my review page. The post title clearly says it's a 'review'. And the post content clearly tells the readers that the product in question is a scam in my opinion, therefore not to buy it. Unfortunately, these angry people would never read a word of my review content, hastily assume that I'm the scammer himself and try to get hold of me via the contact form.

What's worse is that I always make sure to help each one of them - reply to their email and explain what they should do to get their money back, but none of them has ever got back to me again. My response email must get quickly buried among thousands of other unread emails in their inbox.

What To Do To Get Your Money Back

You just need to get yourself organized a little, and gathering information shouldn't take a few minutes, although it can take a while before your money's actually returned to your account. Here are the steps to take to claim your money back - eventually by disputing against your card company or PayPal.

Step 1: Check Your Receipt

Check the email receipt in your inbox and see if it has a link to a support/refund request. If there is, no problem. Your payment's been processed by a clearance company, and the refund is likely to be covered by that company. Affiliate networks such as ClickBank and ClickBetter offer a good refund policy. Access from the link in the email and request for a refund. You'll get your money back within 1-3 days.

Unfortunately it's not always that easy. You often have to contact the seller directly to ask for your money back - if that's the case, go to the next step.

Step 2: Email The Seller

Email The Seller

It doesn't matter if the seller never responds to you or the email address turns out to be non-existent and your email's returned undelivered. It's the fact that you've attempted to contact the seller that matters, in order for you to prove it to your card company (or to PayPal).

The seller's email address should be found in the receipt. If the website still exists, the contact email address should be displayed somewhere. Check Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy or Disclaimer page, usually accessible from the footer menu.

Tell the seller in your email that the actual product you received was nothing as described in the sales page, therefore you're not happy, and you want a full refund. Don't forget to quote the order number (or any reference number) that can be found in your receipt. Never quote your full card number in your email - if they respond and ask for your card number (they really shouldn't), you can tell them the last 4 digits. No more!

If your initial email is NOT returned undelivered but you don't get a response, then the seller is simply ignoring your refund request. Leave it for a few days and give them an ultimatum;

  1. Send a copy of your initial email to the seller again (forward it to the same address) and say,
  2. As per your previous email, you need a full refund and you are waiting to hear their urgent response. 
  3. If you don't see your refund in your card/PayPal account in the next 48 hours, you'll have no option but to take further action.

Don't Try To Speak To Them!

Don't Try To Speak To Them On The Phone

Some of you may think it's easier to give them a quick call than to write an email, but I strongly recommend you not to, for two reasons.

  1. Because you need proof of communications to present to your card company when making a dispute claim.
  2. Because the seller might try negotiating, e.g. giving you free bonuses instead of refunding your money. Or they might make some excuses, e.g. their "payment system" is down, so ask you to wait for X more days. You don't want any of that nonsense.

If they insist that they need to speak to you on the phone or Skype - tell them that you are unable to. The product was available for sale via a web browser. They cannot expect their customers to 'speak' on the telephone!

Step 3: Save All The Documents 

Now that you've sent your emails, make sure you keep all the documents. You don't necessarily have to save them in one folder, you can flag the relevant emails so that you can take a look quickly when you need to. The documents that you should have handy are;

  • Email acknowledgment from the seller when you purchased it (your login ID and password).
  • Receipt from the seller, if they sent it.
  • If you paid by PayPal, you must have an email receipt.
  • Your emails (request for refund) to the seller.
  • Copy the website domain (e.g. https://scamsite.com/members) and save it. You can paste it on a text file or on an email new message and save it as a draft.
  • Also, copy the terms and conditions page URL and save it.
  • Check your credit card statement and make a note of the transaction date, amount (may be different due to the currency exchange or VAT), and the beneficiary’s name.

Step 4: Check The Sales Page Again

You need to be able to explain to your card company or PayPal why you think you've been scammed. The reason is likely to be that, the actual product you received was nothing like what was promised in the sales page - am I right? 

If so, and if the scam product in question is still available for sale, check the sales page once again. Watch the video again and find out what the seller actually claims to be selling

This is tricky and you may need to focus a little. Ignore the phrases such as "you'll make $500 in the next 24 hours!" and "Imagine you're on the beach this time next month". As far as the sales page is concerned, does the product sound like software? A job opportunity? For example;

  • "This system spits out hundreds of dollars every minute!" - sounds like software or web tool.
  • "All-done-for-you website that only requires 3 clicks to set up!" - it's a website hosting.
  • "All you need is to copy and paste email addresses!" - an online business opportunity.

If the actual product is, say, a bunch of affiliate marketing training videos, no matter how useful it can be, it's not what you were expecting to receive, so this will be the reason for your dispute. Write that down, for instance;

  • What I was expecting to receive - a web tool.
  • What I actually received - totally unrelated training videos.

Step 5: Contact Your Card Company

Contact Your Card Company

Now it's time to pick up your phone and speak to your card company. Get your card and the statement ready, so that you can tell them the date of transaction, the amount and who you paid to.

You'll be able to explain the reason for dispute;

  • You received the wrong product.
  • It's a digital product, so you are unable to/not required to physically return it.
  • You've tried to contact the seller twice but have had no response.
  • The seller promises 30 days "no question asked" money-back guarantee (for example...according to what's being promised in the sales page).

The card company's representative will ask you to fill out the form, attach any proof documents (such as your emails to the seller) and send it back to them so that they can reverse the charge for you.

If you've paid by PayPal, on the other hand, the process will be easier but it may take longer, up to 30 days before your money's back in your account. Find the transaction, and click "Report a problem" via Resolution Center. Check the option "I received an item that's not as described - the product was significantly not as described in your order", and follow the steps.

(PayPal) Cancel Pre-Approved Payments

If you've paid by PayPal, just double check that you haven't pre-approved the seller. Because - this is the truth - any sellers, scammers or legit, can pre-approve themselves on PayPal without letting you know properly. When you make a purchase from a seller for the first time, there may be very small writing below the "pay now" button to notify you that your future payments will be pre-approved, which you'll unlikely to notice. Scammers don't even display the notification. It means;

  • If it's a monthly membership fee, the payment will be automatically be charged.
  • If you visit the same seller's other product page (e.g. upsells) or even the same product page and click the "add to cart" button, you'll be charged immediately by PayPal.

PayPal customer service is notoriously unhelpful to you about pre-approved payments - flatly says it's your responsibility. So check the list of your recurring and pre-approved payments (from the Account Settings menu) and cancel any sellers that you don't recognize - just so you know!

Report The Scammer

I hope the above steps will help you get your money back fully. There are several crime investigation agencies that you can report the incident to. They may not necessarily take action on your particular case, especially if you've managed to get your money back. Because unfortunately, they're too busy to deal with bigger cases such as more serious money laundering. 

What To Do If You Have Been Scammed

When you've lost money to a scammer, no doubt you feel emotionally low, but the last thing you want to do is to blame it on yourself for being too naïve or to be angry about it for a long time. What's happened has happened and you can't turn the clock back. Get yourself together, think coherently and start taking the steps to get your money back immediately. That'll be the real lesson, and you'll never be scammed again!

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About the author 

Ray Alexander

Hi! I’m Ray. Over the past 15+ years I have been involved with web designing, programming and online marketing. I work from home and have a passion for exploring new tools, services and programs in order to make money online. I’m here to help you succeed in building a profitable business by sharing my experiences. Any question, don’t hesitate to ask!

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  1. A site called fabuloushackers com said it hacks for you and sends you over $30k cash. Don’t even think about opening it. They are scam.

  2. Hi, I saw your answer in Quora. I agree 100%. Don’t waste time because your life is too short to get revenge on a scammer. Instead protect yourself & make sure your id is not stolen. This is truly useful. Thank you.

  3. Very good information. Especially useful to know who to contact when you are scammed. I buy many marketing tools that turn out to be scam now I know the steps. I have book-marked your page.

  4. Useful advice Ray. I wonder how many people have been scammed and never actually realized… or continue to be actually.

    I’ve only ever been scammed once (credit card fraud). but my father-in-law’s business partner (a very smart guy) was scammed for a five figure sum.

    Anyone can be taken advantage of and some scams are very clever. If it weren’t so despicable a crime, you’d almost admire the subterfuge of some of these grifters.

    1. Hi Paul, wow, it’s shocking to know a smart business owner can lose such a large amount – I hope he was insured and got his money back! Yes as you say, some scammers are so clever. It reminded me of the time I was employed a few years ago – our company credit card was used several times fraudulently and I had to report it to the local police, only to be told that there was nothing the police could help “because a credit card fraud is NOT a crime”. I was pretty dismayed by it. Thanks for your comment!

  5. My wife was scammed by a rogue self-acclaimed guru a few months ago. She stupidly paid over £1100 for the training she knew she couldn’t make use of it. She had a mentor who was automatically designated by the guru. The amount is equivalent to a full month of salary that I struggle to make. I contacted him repeatedly until he replied and said the claim period had elapsed. Now I’m seeking a bit of legal advice.

    1. Hi Georgio, thanks for sharing your experience, and sorry to hear that your wife’s been in trouble. If she was genuinely misled and talked into buying a malicious scheme in the name of ‘training’ then yes, I see you are from the UK, I hope the local citizens advice bureau will be able to help you. Good luck!

  6. Good read. I’m surprised to learn some people can be dumb enough to demand their money back from someone unrelated. They sure deserve to be scammed. If it didn’t happen this time it would have happened another time and it will happen again for sure. They will never learn.

    1. Hi Mike, yes you may be just right. By knowing the typical tricks and not rushing into anything, anyone can avoid getting caught up with most of the scam products. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Hi Ray, this is awesome advice. I’ve never been scammed maliciously myself but I can imagine how people can panic. Such bad experiences can leave you with trauma for a long time. Your advice is spot on. There is time to cry over it, you gotta think about getting your money back. This guide will definitely help them.

    Have you ever been scammed if you mind me asking? I want to know your own experience also. I just thought it might help me and others what to be careful of. Thanks for the helpful article.

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