Sleazeball #1: K-Designers
A couple times now I've gotten a bit of advertising that is almost but not quite a postcard. It has a printed note that tries and utterly fails to look like a personal handwritten note, asking me to please call an 800 number in the next five days implying that waiting too long will mean I won't get a free, pardon me, FREE George Foreman Grill. It's from an alleged "Awards Coordinator" and lacks any return address.
Smells like a scam of some kind, doesn't it? It is. Googling for the 800 number reveals the scam. It's a means of getting folks to call them, thus bypassing telemarketing rules. Then they try to sell siding.
What amuses me is that I've gotten two of these, weeks if not months apart. Do they expect I'll be worried about missing another phony five day window?
[UPDATE: 22 AUGUST 2009
They have a new card now. It's still a "free gift, call us" ploy, but at least now the card has K-Designers' return address as an identifying mark.]
Sleazeball #2: MG2
A couple days ago there was a card in the mail and it looked somewhat like a state lottery scratch-off ticket. The gimmick is that if you uncovered numbers that made one of the winning patterns on the bingo cards printed on the thing, you had a chance of winning one of several prizes. There is also a bit of arithmetic to do so that it isn't a lottery as far the law is concerned. There is a number to call if one wins.
So far it's just strange, but there is also the fine print. Unfortunately for sleazeballs I am both suspicious and literate. The catch? If you call the number, you play and players "agree to a demonstration of an MG2 home care product." There is, of course, "no obligation to buy" but really, expect pressure even if it is not stated outright.
These sleazy come-ons are amusing in a sad way. I am amused that someone thinks I'll fall for this crap. I am rather depressed that there are probably enough folks who will fall this crap that it will be considered worth the effort and expense. If someplace must resort to this level of sleazy advertising, doesn't that say something about the value of what they offer?
[ADDENDUM: This company (MG2) uses a few names, at least in Canada. Those names are: Tri-Star Vacuum Sales & Service, Star Industries, MG2, Star West, 114225 Alberta Ltd, and Supreme Air. Source. -- 29 July 2009]
[ADDENDUM: Today, 11 August 2009 at 3:37 PM Central Daylight Time, I received a phone call from someone at Supreme Air (according to the Caller ID [IJ: Caller ID photo]), claiming to be a lawyer named Mark Wahlberg representing Tri-Star. He claimed to be calling to confirm my address so he could send a registered letter about a libel action in regard to this post. He insisted that I had posted a claim that the company was acting illegally, but would not say where or how I had done so. He claimed "to be reading the web page" and then claimed he had "read it four times today and didn't need to read it again" yet could not point out the alleged actual claim.
I doubt very much that this is any coincidence with the spate of anonymous replies from IP 184.108.40.206 made by someone claiming to be Bill Duncan. Such replies generally have attacked others here who have posted anything critical of MG2/Tri-Star/Supreme Air/etc. I cannot say for sure that it is the same person, but it is difficult to believe this is coincidence.
When I told a lawyer friend of mine about this call and went into the details there was disbelief that any lawyer would have to call someone to confirm their address. When I pointed out how bogus the name seemed I got the reply, "That's fraud. Possibly wire fraud, if he used the phone." and "If that was a lawyer calling using a false identity...um, bar disciplinary committees tend to take a very dim view of that." Considering the nature of the call, I very much doubt that "Mark Wahlberg" really is a lawyer at all. "Pretending to be a lawyer is arguably the practice of law without a license, which I think is a misdemeanor, but also fraud."
Thus the attempt to intimidate me regarding this post actually is an illegal action. Before that call, everything here only mentioned shady ethics and morals. I even pointed out that the arithmetic on the BINGO card was specifically to comply with legal requirements. But now I can factually state that someone at Supreme Air has committed fraud in an attempt to intimidate me. Obviously, that attempt has backfired with this addendum.
UPDATE: 2011 AUGUST 04 - It has been at least several months since this post has gotten any non-spam comment. I am getting several spam comments each week and am tiring of them. If LJ had a mechanism to restrict comments to registered users that could be used on an individual post basis, I would use it. As LJ does not have such a useful thing (and I have some reason not to disable all unregistered comments for the entire journal) I am now locking this post from further comment, at least until such time as a more refined means of spam-prevention (rather than recovery) becomes available on LJ. Spammers and spambots will not have this particular avenue even if the only one to see the result is me as I delete the offending crap. To any legitimate would-be commenters, there are other, related posts I am not (yet) locking down. Sorry for the inconvenience.
 Really? Mark Wahlberg and Tri-Star? See what you get when do a search for that: Mark Wahlberg Tri-Star. That's not a very imaginative alias.
 And did so by asking for Mark, evidently forgetting that was his own alias. I happen to have a friend who is a lawyer and so I asked him about calling a party one is about initiate a legal action against to determine their address: "He *phoned* you? That's not standard practice."
 I asked my friend about this as well and pointed out the "offending" post (this one) and got this reply: "Pfffffffffffffft. Libel action, for this? Rubbish. I think any lawyer would love to put him into deposition and show samples of the firm's ads and such. What does this mean, or what does that mean...."
 Or is he Steve Johnson? Check out Steve's profile page and note the date of creation and how many updates (posts) have been made with the account.
-- 11 August 2009]