Satellite TV con artist nearly gets paid for ‘upgraded’ service

Investigations

SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WATE) — While the coronavirus has slowed sales and profits for many companies, scam artists are continuing business as usual.

Jerry Adams thought a call from what he thought was his television satellite company was giving him little choice: Either pay a hefty fee or lose the picture on his TV.

Now that he’s retired, Adams watches a lot of TV during the day. For the last 14 years, he’s subscribed to a satellite service, DirecTV.

“Mike Christopher is the guy I talked to on the phone,” Adams said. “He said he is with DirecTV.”

Adams said he talked not only with Mike Christopher but with a lady as well.

“They told me that they were changing satellites,” Adams said. “They were moving from one satellite to another satellite and it would improve my reception.”

Adams said the callers were clever and aware of intermittent satellite service when the weather’s spotty.

“They told me the reception goes out when you have rainy or bad weather, I said, ‘Yeah, the whole time,'” Adams said. “They said, ‘It won’t anymore now that we are changing satellites.’ I said, ‘Good about time you did something.'”

Adams was told he’d have to pay an upfront fee of $199 to improve his reception.

“I told them I don’t have $199,” he said. “Well, we hate to tell you this, but you could lose your picture in 24 hours. I thought ‘Oh, God.’ So, like a fool, I got out the VISA.”

Tony Binkley, President of the Better Business Bureau of Greater East Tennessee said con artists are doubling down during the pandemic.

“They’re coming out of the woodwork with everything that we have seen before,” Binkley said.

The BBB says scare tactics — in this case, the threat of losing your service, is common among scammers.

“You know the best thing to do if you get a call you think is from a company, or they say they’re from a company, is to hang up and call the phone number on your bill,” Binkley said.

“They told me, ‘No sir, we don’t charge 199 dollars and you are a loyal customer, we would not charge you anything,'” Adams said of calling the real DirecTV later.

Adams warns others to be vigilant and informed.

“Be smarter than me and hang up the phone,” he said. “And call DirecTV themselves and ask them, to make sure, that you didn’t make a mistake.”

Adams used a credit card in pay the $199. Once he realized the mistake and within talking to customer service at the real DirecTV, Adams called his credit card company and canceled the transaction.

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