• Report: #179829

Complaint Review: Advantage America

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  • Submitted: Tue, March 07, 2006
  • Updated: Wed, March 22, 2006

  • Reported By:Harrisburg Pennsylvania
Advantage America
1900 Howell Branch Road, Suite 4-7 Winter Park, Florida U.S.A.

Advantage America Grant Scam, Ripoff, Theft, Money Stolen from Checking Account Winter Park Florida *EDitor's Suggestions on how to get your money back into your bank account!

*Author of original report: Loophole in Federal Regulations Concerning Fraud

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I have already seen some ripoff reports about Advantage America, and here is another one. This is a dishonest organization that needs to be stopped! I am considering a lawsuit and would include myself in any existing class action lawsuits against this organization.

On November 15, 2005 I was called at my apartment by a man who sounded Indian in origin. His English was understandable but his accent was obvious. He would eventually tell me that his name was Eugine Mozart (employee number 32420WA).

Mr. Mozart told me that I qualified for a government grant for $12,500. Instantly I was suspicious, so I asked him what I had to pay or what group I had to join in order to get this grant. He assured me that I "would not pay a single penny". I asked him at least five times what the organization was that he wanted me to join and emphasized again and again that I did not want to join any group, nor did I want to pay any money.

Mr. Mozart kept assuring me that I would not pay anything. I asked to speak to his supervisor, so he transferred me over to some guy named Gary. This Gary told me that there was a one-time charge of $49.95 to get the grant application, but no additional charges after that. I told him that when I got my bank statement I did not want to see any money above that $49.95 taken out of my account. Three times he assured me that that was all that would be taken out.

Eventually it came out that the organization was some Advantage America and that they were trying to get me to join. I became more emphatic as I stressed my desire NOT to join and me demand that no money be taked out of my account other than the $49.95

Finally, Mr. Mozart asked me to answer some questions. These questions are automated by computer and you answer "Yes" or "No". WARNING: This is the only part of the phone call they actually record, and it is the main basis of their fraudulent scheme! The last question asks about some fee for joining that could be refunded if I was not accepted for the grant. I hesistated, and Mr. Mozart asked what was wrong. I told him that I did not want that sum of money taken out of my account. Yet again he assured me that no money would be taken out other than the $49.95, explaining that I just needed to say "Yes" in order for the deal to go through.

I admit that I made a critical error by answering "Yes" to that question. I should have hung up there. But I thought I had covered my tracks by clarifying again and again with both Mr. Mozart and his supervisor Gary that I would be charged more than $49.95 and that I would not have to join Advantage America.

While checking my account on the phone one day, I found that $299.95 had been taken out. Right way I called PSECU to find out what that was for. They told me at the 800 number that it was Advantage America. I told them that I did not want Advantage America taking any more money out of my checking account, but PSECU said that I would have to change me account number, that they could not block charges.

On December 6, 2005 I called Advantage America again, this time speaking to a Marya Chachoso. I told them about how Mr. Mozart and his supervisor Gary had both lied to me. I demanded my money back. She then played back the tape of me answering the questions. I told her that the conversation was much longer than that and that both of them told me I would not be charged any more than $49.95. She told me that I should have received a packet in the mail detailing the benefits of Advantage America. I told her I never agreed to join and that there was no grant application in that packet. I also told her that I wanted to cancel any account I might have with them.

Ms. Chachoso said that if I cancelled my account, I could not get the grant. I said fine and got a cancellation number from her (ES CXLAF4567) as well as and assurance that no more money would be taken out of my account.

When I got my bank statement for December in the mail, I found that another charge, this time for $69.90, had been made ot my checking account on December 21 (15 days after Ms. Chachoso had supposedly cancelled my account). Right away I called Advantage America again, on January 10, 2006.

This time I was informed that my account had indeed been cancelled. I pointed that out that on Dec. 6 I had been told that, yet more money had been taken out. I told them that either they give me my money back or send me the grant application. Again I was told that I needed to join. I went over the deceptions again and finally the woman I was speaking to (I cannot recall the name this time) said she would send me the grant, but I could not get my money refunded unless I join and then am turned down for the grant. She assured me that I would receive the grant application in the mail in 4-6 weeks.

I called again on January 18 but got nowhere. On Dec. 6, Jan. 10, and Jan. 18 I asked to speak to the representative's supervisor, but all three times was told he was "in a meeting".

When I got my January bank statement in the mail, I found that $49.95 had been taken out. By the end of February I had not received any grant application. The rep had said 4-6 weeks. It has now been 66 days. No money was taken out in February.

I called yet again on March 7, but no one answered. All I got was a recording telling me to send my "queries" to the address in Winter Park, FL.

This organization has stolen $419.80 from me and I want it back! Let us unite in a lawsuit to decimate Advantage America.

Jonathan
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
U.S.A.

EDitor's Suggestions on how to get your money back!

HERE IS WHAT RIP-OFF REPORT SUGGESTS YOU DO:

Go to your bank within 60 days of the charge, or as soon as you know about the charge, don't delay, and tell them that there has been fraudulent activity within your account. Explain that you wish to file a dispute, and demand that they assist you in accordance with Federal Regulation E.

According to the majority of victims interviewed by Rip-off Report, those who immediately called their banks to dispute the charges did not get very far. Many victims got the following responses from their banks: we could not do anything for you or you waited too long; it has been more than 60 days.

If the bank is says that you have waited too long, explain to them how you called their 800 number as soon as the charges were found, and were told by the bank that nothing could be done. Remind the bank that they failed to assist you properly at the 800 #, and instead, provided you with an inadequate explanation of your right to dispute. Tell the bank that it's their fault time has expired, and since they gave you the wrong info to begin with, they will just have to deal with it, take the loss and reverse the charges.

Tell them the truth; this was unauthorized and your account was NOT to be charged! Keep emphasizing how you never authorized anything! Direct them to the hundreds of victims reports that were filed on Rip-off Report.com. And if you're at the bank, walk them over to their computer and make them go to this site! If you are on the phone with them, tell them you will wait while they access this site! Either way, be persistent!

DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER!

Let them know nicely, that you were advised to Report them (the Bank) and this situation to the Banking Commission in your state. Since each state has a different name for the agency/controller over banks, find that name before you call or get to the bank so you can throw it in their face. The more knowledgeable you appear to be, the further you will get.

And just continue to demand the Federal Regulation E form! The bank CAN, MUST and WILL reverse the charge! But, you must be persistent; ask to speak to the supervisor or the area manager for all the branches in the state.

Let the bank personnel know you are meeting with the media later in the day, that you would much rather they do the right thing (as most other banks have) by looking at the complaints and immediately reversing the charge(s) to your account; no matter how long ago it was. Be sure to call the Media if necessary so you are telling the truth.

If you have to, be loud (but nice) in front of other customers. If you are just calling by phone, the above tactics should still work. The bank can easily fax or mail to you the Federal Regulation E dispute form.

CHARGES TO YOUR CREDIT CARD

If the charge was to your credit card (not debit card, check card, or checking account), contact the credit card company as soon as possible to request a dispute form. Consumers usually have a little longer to dispute fraudulent credit card charges (up to 6 months), but it is better to act right away. In this type of situation, credit card disputes are usually successful since fraudulent companies often won't contest the disputed charge. In rare cases, credit card companies will review disputes, but refuse to reverse the charges. If this occurs, complain to a manager and let them know you will be filing a report here.

Remember Don't let them get away with it! Make sure they make the Rip-off Report .. The more Reports filed on a Company or individual, the more likely it is that the authorities, media and attorneys will want to take action.

And good luck Let us know how you do!

ED Magedson Founder, Rip-off Report.com & Author of www.ripoffrevenge.com
EDitor@RipoffReport.com
badbusinessbureau.com
www.ripoffreport.com

Don't let them get away with it.
Make sure they make the Rip-off Report!

We are not lawyers.
We are not a collection agency.

We are Consumer Advocates.
...the victims' advocate

WE are Civil and Human Rights Activists

We are a Worldwide Consumer Reporting News Agency
...by consumers, for consumers

CLICK HERE to read about Credit Card Scams... find out how to get your money back. *Rip-off Report Investigation provides valuable information.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/07/2006 02:35 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Advantage-America/Winter-Park-Florida-32792/Advantage-America-Grant-Scam-Ripoff-Theft-Money-Stolen-from-Checking-Account-Winter-Par-179829. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Author of original report

Loophole in Federal Regulations Concerning Fraud

AUTHOR: Jonathan - (U.S.A.)

HELP ME, RIPOFF REPORT!!! I checked my back statement over the phone today and found that $49.95 had been taken out of my account on March 20. This now brings the total amount Advantage America has robbed me for to $469.75. As was teh case the last time I tried to call Advantage America, all I got was a recording saying to send any questions by mail.

As advised by this site's editor, I went to my local bank, the Pennsylvania State Employee's Credit Union, and demanded to have a dispute form in accordance with Federal Regulation E. The teller was kind and eventually called someone in checking for me to talk to.

Interestingly, this person was the same woman I spoke with on the 800 line back in December 2005. Monica told me that Federal Regulation E did not apply to this type of transaction. I demanded it again as well as an affidavit I could sign informing the bank that I did not authorized this withdrawal.

Monica passed me over to the checking manager, who told me the same thing! She said that electronic ACH withdrawals are covered under Regulation E, but not "remotely activated paper checks", which is apparently what Advantage America is using. That sounds like a convenient loophole in the law to me.

The bank manager, Joan, then told me that there is only a 24-hour period to reject a check transaction like this. I told her that Monica should have told me that back in December. Both of them told me that all I could do is change my account number.

I WANT THESE PEOPLE STOPPED! I am going to get a lawyer referral from the Bar Association and have him send a nasty letter to Advantage America. I want my money back! If you have any other suggestions on how the bank can help, please let me know.
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