A growing trend of websites are popping up and targeting local markets. They piggyback off of the idea of a well-known, discount site called Overstock.com but are NOT to be confused with it. The BBB, nationwide, has received several examples of these websites, and there are possibly several more.
Some websites to watch out for are ones that have names similar to these that have already been taken down: clearanceoverstock.com, warehouse-clearance.net, affordabledepot.com, and expertoverstock.com. (Others may be in existence or may be created that are not mentioned here.) What these websites have in common is people learn about them through advertisements on Craigslist. Example: an ad will be placed for a kid’s swing/play set that is marked way down. A consumer responds to the ad, and then an email is sent to them like this one below, referring them to the website:
The websites show an address (city, state) in the home state of the “so-called business’s” target market and a phone number but no physical address is ever mentioned. When people perform a google search or call information, the Better Business Bureau, etc., the business does not exist. Further, on the website, the companies indicate that they are BBB Accredited with an A+ rating. If this was true, the BBB would have all of their information. Payment for the sale items can only be paid for through Green Dot MoneyPak, which is a common way that scam artists request so their identities/locations cannot be traced by law enforcement.
There are ways to find out a website’s address whereabouts through a search on http://whois.domaintools.com/, but some companies pay for a webhosting service, which interferes with this. The webhost provider is not allowed to disclose address details, which gives con artists yet another safe haven to hide behind and no deterrent, whatsoever, to stop frauding individuals. There certainly have been reports made by individuals, who have been frauded. They send their hard, earned money in expectation of receiving a swing set or whatnot. Nothing was ever received, and there was no way to get the consumers their money back.
Be aware! Always check a business’s review before agreeing to do business with them, especially one that you cannot visit in person and is promoting a “HOT DEAL”. Check online at www.bbb.org or give your local BBB a call. If you are a victim of this scam, contact us. Also contact the Federal Trade Commission and your local Attorney General. With enough information, they can track the fraudster down, put their scheme out of commission, and pass laws that make it harder for them to repeat such schemes.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/houseofcards/94935445/”>Alex Clark</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photo pin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>