Valley senior says 'blog' cost her big bucks

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SUN LAKES, Ariz. - “He was the best husband a woman could ever have. He was always so good to me.”

Talking about her late husband Howard still brings Dorothy Rien to tears. Since he passed a year ago, Rien, 74, says living alone has taken its toll.

“You know, I could spend time with my friends but they all had somebody to go home to,” she said.

So, when a Phoenix-based company, Website Business, cold-called her wanting to meet about a business opportunity, Rien went along.

“They said they were going to develop all these websites for me and then I was going to have my own websites and sell all my blogs,” she explained.

She was going to be blogging about topics like child development and golf.

To get started, Rien says Website Business asked for credit-card numbers and her signature on more than a dozen contracts between $1,200 and $12,000.

“I thought I was going to be making money and instead they took all my credit away from me,” she said.

After two months, Rien says $121,000 was charged to her credit cards. She didn't even realize it until she tried to get groceries and her cards were declined.

“Here I was feeling really stupid because I had signed those contracts and sent them back,” she said. “But, they were making all these promises and they're so nice and I believed them.”

Telemarketers who call and offer lucrative business opportunities - like working from home - top the list of warnings from the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

Rien filed a complaint with the AG and disputed the charges on her credit card.

She says when Website Business found out, it pressured her to “drop the disputes.”

“They called and they made all kinds of threats against me and sic their attorneys on me and everything,” she said.

That’s when Rien contacted 3 On Your Side.

We found more than 70 complaints have been made against this company with the Better Business Bureau.

When we tried to get answers about the reported $121,000 charged to Rien's credit cards, an attorney for the business sent us a statement.

“…We are Websitebusiness.com's counsel and are presently working with Ms. Rien, through her counsel, to settle Ms. Rien's alleged dispute.  As such, it would be inappropriate, at this juncture, to discuss this matter..."

So far, Rien has been able to recoup $43,000, but because she signed those contracts, this case is far from black and white.

3 On Your Side will continue to follow this story and let you know what happens.

As a general reminder, avoid giving anyone your credit-card information or money up front, especially when dealing with a telemarketer.