Local Company Falls Victim of "Name Hijacking"

Legitimate Companies are Targets of Scammers Using Name, Trademarks Fraudulently
March 25, 2014

Columbus OH - -Better Business Bureaus® across the county have noticed an uptick in the use of legitimate business names in plots to extort money from consumers.

Continental Message Solution, Inc. is a Columbus based business that offers call center solutions and has an A+ rating with the BBB serving Central Ohio. The company reports it has been a victim of “name hijacking” and trademark violations after learning numerous employment ads have appeared across the country in newspapers and online advertising for part-time Customer Service Representatives/Admin Assistant/Secret Shopper Candidates. The perpetrators behind the fraudulent ads also used Continental Message Solution, Inc.’s contact information for billing purposes.

Continental Message Solution, Inc. has received a dozen invoices totaling over $9,500 from newspapers in numerous states requesting payment for the ads. “Often, phony work at home ads are paid for with stolen credit cards,” stated Joan Coughlin, BBB spokesperson. “In this particular scheme, there are three victims; Continental Message Solution, Inc., certainly, as it is their name that was used, but also the newspapers which ran the ads and will not be paid, and any consumers who respond to the ad may be opening themselves up to the possibility of ID Theft, the potential of lost funds and returned check charges because of a bad check they received from the scam company as part of the phony secret shopper position.”  

Continental Message Solution, Inc., has sent letters to the newspapers advising them that they did not place the ads. So far, no consumers have contacted them about the employment offer. A business spokesperson told BBB, “We didn’t know anything about the ads until the bills started coming in. We don’t want anyone to confuse us with this newspaper ad.”

BBB Tips for Victims of Business ID Theft

  • Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement, the FBI’s cybercrime division and BBB.
  • Create a response policy. As part of your public response consider posting a warning on your company website.
  • If a deceptive website is involved, work to get it shut it down. Once identified and documented that a site trades on your business name, notify the web host to shut it down. Host information is available with a networksolutions.com/whois search of the web address.

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.  The Central Ohio Better Business Bureau serves Columbus and 21 surrounding counties as the leader in advancing marketplace trust. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.