A new scam is hitting Washington state, targeting parents trying to help their kids do well on the SAT, a test used by colleges and universities during admissions.
A Sammamish mom said she was tricked by scammers who called and claimed her son had been selected to participate in a special SAT prep program he signed up for with his high school counselor.
"This girl was so nice," said Elaine Mintz. "She was telling me they do the SAT tapes for kids to study for exams."
Mintz said the scammers convinced her that her son could borrow two study DVDs for free for 30 days and that all Mintz had to do was provide a credit card in case her son decided to keep the discs, which would be arriving by mail.
"So, this seemed like a pretty honest thing to be doing," Mintz said.
Mintz followed directions and returned the DVDs as instructed.
Little did she know it was too late. The scammers charged more than $200 on her credit card almost as soon as they received it. A few weeks later, they charged her card again.
This company might be new to Washington, but it's infamous in California where it's based. Dozens have posted online complaining.
"This is a scam," wrote a woman named Cynthia.
"They kept my credit card and stole from me AGAIN!" exclaimed a woman named Pamela.
The company known as SAT/ACT Scholastic Achievement has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It also has no affiliation with the Educational Testing Service, which owns the SAT.
"They cast a wide net and hope someone, somewhere falls for it," said David Quinlan, vice president of marketing of the BBB Northwest. "It's obviously worth it to them if they are getting thousands of dollars out of it."
KING 5 tried to contact the scammers, but the customer service agent hung up, refusing to talk about the accusations or answer any future calls from KING 5.
Mintz said she hopes other parents will learn from her misfortune.
"Just, you know, beware," Mintz said.
Ultimately, Mintz's credit card reversed the fraudulent charges.
Quinlan suggests individuals who receive a call like this to assume its a scam and avoid giving out any personal information. He says individuals who think the call might be legitimate should wait to make any agreements, get a number, and plan to call back after talking to their child and their child's school counselor.