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BBB Explains How to Avoid Schemes

6:15 PM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
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Lexington, N.C. - The SEC, FBI, Attorney General and Secret Service are all investigating a Lexington company that goes by a variety of names, including Zeek Rewards and Zeekler. The SEC issued a news release on Friday calling the companies a "pyramid" or "Ponzi" scheme.

Zeek has been on the radar at the Winston-Salem Better Business Bureau since last year. So, officials contacted the Attorney General, the SEC, the FBI and the Secret Service.

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Our local Better Business Bureaus track when people research a company. When they noticed thousands of people looking up Zeek Rewards, that was a big clue. Most businesses only get looked up a few hundred times.

As the BBB dug further, red flags started to pop up:
*Promises of big cash payouts
*No skills or work required
*No product being sold
*Pressure to sign up and invest and encourage others to do the same.

We all like to think of ourselves as smart and savvy, but there are two key reasons why the BBB says these schemes work: need and greed.

"If someone can gain your confidence, someone pushes the right buttons and tells you the things that you want to hear, and again, that need and greed pops in, you can make some bad decisions. Every one of us can," BBB Northwest North Carolina President David Dalrymple said.

BBB of Central North Carolina President Kevin Hinterberger said, "It's a promise of a lot of money, little investment, little skills that you have to have on the front end to get involved. So, folks look at this as an opportunity to earn extra income."

The BBB received about 200 complaints just this weekend. The Attorney General's office received 11,000 emails, thousands of phone calls and numerous Facebook messages.

On Monday, the Attorney General issued a warning about "reload scams." The office says these "reload scams" target consumers who are down or have recently lost money. The AG says they're trying to recruit people who may have just lost money to make another investment that could cost them even more.

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