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Do-gooder businessman accused of Internet crimes

Many South Carolina residents may find it difficult to trust anyone these days. Even those who consistently do good deeds often end up doing something that takes advantage of the trustworthy nature of others. Despite his reputation for doing many good deeds for others, a Utah businessman now is being accused of an Internet fraud scheme that earned him hundreds of millions of dollars.

The businessman was known for good deeds such as helping earthquake victims in Haiti and rescuing lost hikers. But it is reported that these acts may have been funded from money he obtained through Internet crimes, and more specifically, from online marketing fraud.

The money came from customers from the man's company, I Works, which is no longer in business. The company claimed to help customers apply for government grants and guaranteed quick cash with money-back guarantees. Once the man obtained the customers' credit card information, he would continue to charge expensive monthly fees. He raked in $275 million with this scheme.

Even though charging monthly fees is not necessarily illegal, the man allegedly did not inform customers of the charges, nor did he allow them the opportunity to opt out of the charges. The man denies the charges, and meanwhile reportedly enjoyed a lavish personal lifestyle involving houseboats, helicopters, expensive cars and gambling sessions.

The man's alleged scheme started to unravel after scores of customers saw the unauthorized charges on their statements and sought credit. MasterCard and Visa became involved and levied fines upon I Works.

Internet scams are becoming more commonplace since the Internet can be accessed from almost anywhere. It's now easier than ever for scammers to find ways to steal the personal information and credit card numbers of others. With many Internet users lured by the thought of easy money, they unwittingly offer their information and end up being pilfered of hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Source: Yahoo! News, "Utah businessman known for good deeds accused of Internet fraud," Claudine Zap, June 17, 2013

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