Iowans are warned to think before they click if they see a familiar celebrity like Oprah or Ellen on a pop-up ad, pitching products for skin care, losing weight or boosting memory.

Jim Hegarty, CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Omaha-Council Bluffs, says many of those ads are scams and they’re rigged to rope you in.

“People don’t read the fine print even if the fine print is there,” Hegarty says. “They think they’re just getting a week’s trial or a month’s trial and all they have to do is pay for shipping, but when they pay for that shipping, they’re agreeing to have that product shipped to them month after month and have those charges reoccur on their cards.”

The con artists who produce the pop-ups don’t really have the endorsement of the celebrity you see, he says, and more scams seem to appear as fast as they’re being shut down.

“They’re like Whack-a-mole,” Hegarty says. “Most of them are operating out of Florida, there’s been some FTC action and a couple of these operations were shut down, but here’s the deal: because individual loss might be $180 or $200, there’s not any individuals that are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Whatever amount you may have lost on the worthless products, Hegarty says it’s important to let the authorities know, as well as the nearest office of the Better Business Bureau.

“We want them to report it to the BBB because we can compile that data and when state or local losses get to a certain threshold, then the government can take action,” he says.

Hagerty says this type of scam is estimated to have bilked Americans out of $1.3 billion in the past ten years.