Top Telemarketing Scams of 2005

From the National Fraud Information Center



% of All Complaints

Average Loss


31 %


Requests for payment to claim prizes that never materialize    



Falsely promise to help get
scholarships or government educational grants, for a fee

Magazine Sales



Misrepresent cost of subscriptions or pretend to be publisher offering renewals






Credit Card Offers  



False promises of credit cards even if credit is bad, for a fee    



Fake Check Scams



Consumers paid with phony checks for work or items sold, instructed to wire money back    



Advance Fee Loans



False promises of loans, even if credit is bad, for an fee upfront    
Lotteries/Lottery Clubs



Requests for payment to claim lottery winnings or get help to win, often foreign lotteries    
Work-at-Home Plans



Materials sold on false promises of big profits working at home    



Calls pretending to be from well-known source asking to confirm personal information    



Offers of free or discount travel that never materialize    

Other 2005 Trends

  • The total loss in 2005 was $4,921,932, compared to $2,561,835 in 2004.
  • The average loss in 2005 was $2,892, compared to $1,974 in 2004.
  • There were significantly more complaints in 2005: 4,587, compared to 2,814 in 2004.
  • The use of wire transfer in telemarketing fraud payments is growing. Among the Top 10 Scams, those with the most payment by wire were Fake Checks Scams (100 percent), Lotteries/Lottery Clubs (89 percent), Advance Fee Loans  (78 percent), Prizes/Sweepstakes (69 percent).
  • In some of the Top 10 Scams, the predominant method of payment was bank debit, including Phishing (89 percent), Scholarships/Grants (66 percent), and Credit Card Offers (66 percent).
  • Among the Top 10 Scams, those with the most consumers age 60+ were: Magazine Sales (63 percent),  Prizes/Sweepstakes (51 percent), and Phishing (45 percent).
  • Among the Top 10 Scams, those with the most consumers under age 30 were: Scholarships/Grants (31 percent), Travel/Vacations (30 percent), and Advance Fee Loans (28 percent), Credit Card Offers (27 percent), and Work-at-Home Plans (24 percent).