I was a victim of this scam!

I was a victim of the Google Treasure Chest Scam. I can tell you from experience that they are unscrupulous con artists and my advice is "Stay Away from them". Do be very wary of any offers that toot the "Google" name as part of their offer as they are not connected with the "Google" search engine.
Please read about my experience with "Google Treasure Chest" so you will be better informed about how these scams work.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Purpose of this Blog

First off I would like to say "I do not endorse Google Treasure Chest." They are unethical scam artists as you will see if you follow enough of the links that this site will provide for your information.

Recently I was involved with a transaction with the Google Treasure Chest website and I have concluded that Google Treasure Chest is all a big SCAM and I am starting this blog as a method to hopefully help others avoid the heartache of dealing with these unethical thieves and maybe provide enough helpful information that the consumer will be able to use to avoid my mistake.

In this day of uncertainty about having a job there are a lot of out of work desperate people looking for a way to make a living and searching the internet for help. A lot of unethical scam artists are taking advantage of this desperation of the consumer, and it is probably only going to get worse before enough consumers are aware of the pitfalls that are being used by the scam artists in this age of technology.

My recent experience with Google Treasure Chest involved "negative option" in a transaction. I had never heard of advance consent/negative option before this and believe me I have since researched it and found that Google Treasure Chest does not comply properly on using it. What Google Treasure Chest did was debit further "unauthorized" funds from my account and they claimed that they could do so by the use of the FTC "advance consent/negative option" clause for internet transactions and this "important" piece of information is hidden in an obscure link on their website. What they failed to do was inform me of their intent to enroll me in a membership and further debit money from my account. They failed to get my "informed agreeing consent" for them to do this. The Federal Trade Commission has rules and regulation in place for internet marketers on the use of the advance consent/negative option. FTC law requires that the marketer make their intent and material terms clear and conspicious to the consumer and also requires that the marketer get an informed affirmative agreeing consent from the consumer before the financial transaction is even submitted, especially when other terms and conditions are part of the initial transaction. In essence, the consumer should be told about any terms or conditions upfront before the transaction is submitted and can then understand all the terms and conditions that would apply to the transaction. A helpful resource on the FTC advance consent/negative option can be found at http://artistsgallery.netfirms.com/scam/guidelines.pdf

Here is a review of my experience with Google Treasure Chest which I have posted on one of my other blogs to warn my friends about Google Treasure Chest.
Google Treasure Chest
970 W. Broadway, Ste E347,
Jackson, WY 83001
866-951-1406 hrs Mon - Fri 9 to 5

This is my experience with Google Treasure Chest

On or about the 4th of April I bought a DVD from an ad on a website
for information about making money working at home. This was a simple
ad just for information about work at home opportunities on a DVD and
nothing else. I did a simple debit card transaction for this purchase,
in the amount of $1.97. While waiting for my online receipt I was
re-directed, (hijacked) without my permission, to a website with the
message "that I might enjoy looking around for more opportunities to get me started."
I was puzzled about why I was directed to the site and thought that that
was where I needed to wait for the online receipt. I did not receive an online purchase receipt.
On the site I was asked to register a user name and password in order to
be able to return to the site. I did not think too much about this as
a lot of websites that have extensive information or files to download
do this. I thought I might return later to explore and I chose a username
and password. Upon looking around a little I could see that the site
was nothing but junk ads and worthless information that is easily
found all over the internet. I lost interest and left the site in disgust.
A few days later the DVD arrived. Then a few days later, April 16th, an "unauthorized" debit card transaction in the amount $72.21 was taken from my bank account. I emailed them Inquiries about this matter and they do not respond to email.
When I investigated the source of this transaction I fiounnd that it was
“Google Treasure Chest “ claiming it is for membership in that bogus
scam website that they placed me on without my permission. There was no
disclosure on the DVD Ad website where I bought the DVD that this was
to be the case, or that I was being sent to a paid membership site, nor
was there any "front page" disclosure on the either website page about this
being it's purpose .
Nothing was offered to give me a chance to make an informed decision. They did not get a "digital signature permission" to start charging my debit card for a membership of any kind, and I am sure that the law requires them to get some kind of digital signature agreement for them to even be able to debit my bank account, especially for a reoccurring debit.
In investigating into this matter further I found hidden on the bottom
of the Google Treasure Chest site a link to their terms and conditions
which states:
>>Terms & Conditions:
Advanced Consent
You understand that this consumer transaction involves your advanced
consent (also called a negative option), and you may be liable for payment of future goods and services under the terms of this agreement if you fail to notify the supplier not to supply the goods or services described. For future
purchases, googletreasurechest.com reserves the right to make modifications and changes at any time, to these terms and conditions that are deemed necessary, without prior notification.<<
This information should have been on the page where I bought the DVD!!

And hidden under "Shipping and other fees" you will find:
>>Shipping & Other Fees
Upon submitting a request for Membership, a Member ID and Password are
assigned to you and can be used to gain access to googletreasurechest.com. The initial shipping and handling charge of three dollars and eighty eight cents, includes the Income Treasure Chest Kit as well as seven days worth of access
to the online directories and training. After seven days, if you choose not to cancel, you will be billed your first monthly membership fee of seventy two dollars and twenty one cents for the membership fee for the googletreasurechest.com membership. Membership fees will be charged to the credit card used by you to complete the transaction. <<
This information had not been disclosed or made transparent and clear either on the DVD order page or on the front page of where they placed me. This should have been the first paragraph on that googlewebsite page!!
In essence they are making a claim afer the fact that by just hijacking me
to that site they will have the right to debit my bank account without the proper "digital permission signature" to do so.

They are stating a 30 day refund guarantee phrase in their terms
requiring you to call a certain number 866 951 1406 to cancel subscription and
they require you send the DVD back with a RGA number in order to get
your money back. My Bank statement gave a different number 866 957 0020
for getting the refunds. I had to call both numbers a dozen times trying to get
an answer. Each time I was connected I either got someone mumbling about
what days and hours they were open then I was cut off, or I got another voice
that is suddenly cut off with an ominous click. Same results with both phone
numbers. I am sure that most people would have given up by this time.
I kept trying both numbers and finally reached a person who said her
name was “Rachel”. When I asked for her full name she informed me that she
could not give out that information. I replied “I just bet not” and
she replied “it would be stupid”. Then she turns around and says she can
give me an id number for her and gave me a number 12068. I told her I was calling to get my money refunded and that I needed their RGA number to send their #&88 DVD back if that was what was required of me and if I did not get the money back that
they took without my authorization that all hell was going to break out.
At this point she says “do you want me to cancel your subscription so you won’t be charged anything further?” By this time I am hot under the collar. Informing her that “yes” I most certainly did and that they would not be able to charge my debit card any further as I have canceled it and notified my bank not to honor any further charges from them to the debit card or to my bank account, and furthermore I intended to file a fraud claim against them with my bank if my money was not refunded
immediately. She told me she would have to go into my account to see
if they could refund my money---I was put on hold-- finally she returned
and said that they would refund my money and that it would take 5 to 7
days. She then gave me a great big long number which she said was to prove that I had canceled the subscription in time and that I would not be required to return the DVD. I am really skeptical about the money ever showing up.

Incidentally, I never tried the DVD in fear of virus or keystroke
hacker software.

Please go to www.complaintsboard.com and do a search for "Google
treasure chest" to see how extensive this unethical scam has spread.
I was appalled when I discovered this. I don't see how I could have
avoided this situation as it appears that no website can be trusted in
these days and times and it is very risky using debit or credit cards
for transactions on the internet.

I did not in "anyway" give authorization for any credit card
transaction other than the $1.97 for the DVD, no matter what is
written in the "terms and conditions" hidden on the Google Treasure Chest
site. Those terms are a form of entrapment to the unaware public and I am
sure are against the law.
It has been my understanding that you have to sign a digital signature
permission consent form for anyone to be able to charge your debit or
credit card for a reoccurring debit.

My bank has reassured me that Google Treasure Chest can't debit any
more of my money since I have canceled my debit card and put them on notice not to honor any charges to my account coming from "Google Treasure Chest" and I "will" per sue an unauthorized withdrawal fraud charge with my bank if my money does not show up as promised.

Now I know that a few of you will chastise me about how I should have
read the fine print in the terms and conditions and in hind site you are right about that, but how many of you surfing the internet make a habit reading their terms everytime you land on a website? I was not asked permission to be placed on that website where it should even be necessary for me to read the terms and conditions--otherwise it is going to make it necessary for all us to do this on every website we visit in the future.

Here is what consumer affairs websits (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/negative_option.html) has
to say on the "advance consent, negative option" that google treasure chest is using.
>>>In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on negative option abuses, suing nine companies for charging customers credit cards for products or services without gaining their express approval.

The FTC found the companies, as part of a transaction with consumers,
offered "free offers" or "trial offers" of other products and services, without disclosing that consumers would be billed for additional products or services unless they exercised the negative option.
"Negative option marketing is particularly troubling when marketers
already have consumers' credit card or billing account information and can easily charge consumers' accounts without their permission or when marketers fail to disclose that consumers' credit card numbers will be transferred to another
company and charged unless consumers call to cancel," the FTC s Elaine
Kolish told Congress in November, 2001.<<<

>>>The law requires that consumers give an informed consent before a negative option purchase can be considered legitimate. Yet the overwhelming majority of complaints
received at ConsumerAffairs.com are from consumers who have no idea why they are being charged for a particular service. Under the law, the burden of proof is on the marketer, not the consumer.<<<

That last paragraph show that it is not legal for a online business to be able to debit your bank account without legal digital signature permission and I
hope you will warn all your friends about this Google Treasure Chest site before they too are taken in by it. Also I hope you will read this article

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