Denver, CO – July 8, 2009 – Better Business Bureaus across the country are receiving reports of a new scam on Craigslist that deceives buyers by falsely claiming BBB accreditation and participation in a phony buyer’s protection program. BBB warns that there is no such thing as a “BBB Purchase Protection Program” and any online seller claiming participation in this program is scamming customers.
“Consumers look for BBB Accredited Businesses and the BBB seal when evaluating the trustworthiness of businesses because the logo tells them that the business lives up to BBB’s rigorous standards,” said Dale Mingilton, President & CEO of BBB Denver/Boulder. “Unfortunately, some businesses and scammers will lie to customers and falsely claim that they are accredited by BBB, therefore it’s important to verify BBB accreditation at the source: denver.bbb.org or by giving us a call.”
BBB has received reports from consumers coast to coast who were shopping for items on Craigslist and came across an ad claiming that the seller was BBB accredited or a BBB member. After inquiring about the item, the buyer received an e-mail from the seller. The e-mail explained that the seller was BBB accredited and that they were a participant in the “BBB Protection Program”. This supposed program would protect the buyer should they not receive the items they paid for.
In truth, there is no such thing as a BBB “Protection Program”. Not only are these scammers lying about being BBB accredited on Craigslist, but they also fraudulently use the BBB logo on their websites, overstockshop.biz and overstocksales.org, and have stolen images from BBB websites to mimic BBB layout and design.
The scamming sellers use more than a dozen names including, Emma Lawley, Hollie West, Claudia Curtis, Mallory Downs, Stephanie Bradford, Elizabeth Stanford, Kristine Gilmore, Dorothy Mason, Brittany Russell and Linda Koller. They have even gone so far as to create a fake BBB reliability report for each phony identity which is linked from—and hosted on—the scammer’s websites, not the BBB’s.
BBB contacted the web hosting company of overstockshop.biz which suspended the scammer’s site. Since then, the scammers have set up shop at overstocksales.org and BBB is taking steps to have that site taken down as well.
BBB offers the following advice:
• If someone claims any affiliation with the BBB, unfortunately, you can’t take their word for it. Visit www.denver.bbb.org or call 303.758.2100 to obtain the BBB Reliability Report and BBB rating, as well as additional information on the business’s management and complaint history.
• Consumers who believe a business is fraudulently claiming BBB accreditation should send in the advertisement via email, (email@example.com) fax, (303.758.8321) or mail, (1020 Cherokee St Denver, CO 80204).
For more advice on how to avoid scams online and find trustworthy businesses, visit www.denver.bbb.org.
The BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 125 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit www.denver.bbb.org for more information.