No one doubts the value of sales lead lists and surveys prepared by reputable vendors. Many sales organizations rely on the data on these lists to find leads, qualify prospects, and pursue sales. This blog is not about the trustworthy list vendors, like SalesLeads.tv, which provide high-quality information for legitimate reasons. Rather, we are going to look at the dark side of list sales, in which unscrupulous hucksters commit fraud on the public using “sucker lists”.
Sucker lists contain the names and contact information for individuals who are, for various reasons, susceptible to telemarketing and/or mail fraud and get-rich-quick schemes. There are different ways to make it onto a sucker list, including:
- lottery winners and sweepstake participants
- inheritors and the newly rich
- the elderly
- the unemployed
- illegal aliens
- customers of diploma mills
- charity givers
- political contributors
- people who believe in astrology
- multilevel marketing
- online gamblers
- loan modification
- credit repair
- leverage metals and currency
Each of these groups may be conned by bottom-feeding fraudsters who can exploit a person’s vulnerabilities. Lottery participants, for instance, may be ever on the lookout for a quick score. A fraudster might push a so-called “winning number generator” that promises to yield you a winning lottery ticket within 60 days. The elderly might be bullied into buying non-existent insurance or annuities. You can easily imagine scenarios for each kind of person on a sucker list. Often, sucker lists contain financial, credit card information and ACH information about its list members. Armed with this kind of information, scammers can impersonate law enforcement or any company you used your credit card with, and utilize that information for identity theft. The variety of nefarious schemes is endless, but usually involves persuasive sales pitches, scare tactics, and exaggerated claims.
We advocate seven approaches to help authorities crack down on these illegal activities:
1) Expanded use of data from public complaints, criminal investigations and civil suits to gather and share intelligence about fraud schemes and key participants, and an Americas Most Wanted Scammers show or documentary.
2) Undercover operations to nab purveyors of sucker lists, seeding these lists with law enforcement decoy information.
3) Public education programs to make individuals and businesses more aware of marketing fraud.
4) Identification and support of fraud victims with activities such as intervention services and victim-support networks.
5) Expanded coordination among regulators, law enforcers and investigators to help prosecute fraudsters. Coordination should occur at the local, national and international levels. This includes the establishment of joint task forces to take on the worst criminals.
6) Enforcement of the FTC and FCC Do Not Call provisions, especially registration per area code. Almost all of these fraudsters do not have a SAN number and haven’t registered to dial area codes at the federal or state level, an obvious Achilles heel that law enforcement should pursue.
7) Self-regulation by the list industry, including the formation of a regulatory body that polices its own members.
We hope this information helps you understand the list brokerage business.