Beware of Bogus Websites Offering Personal Electronics

  
     
December 10, 2008

A customer in Lebanon, KY contacted the Better Business Bureau this week after shopping online for a television.  The customer started with an online search for the television he wanted.  The search results included a listing offering comparison prices for the televsion.  The best price was through www.electronicsrs.com.  The customer went to that website to purchase the television and prepared to checkout (after entering some key personal information, including his birth date!). The request for a birth date when registering on an online retail site should be a "red flag," but the next screen in the checkout process included even more "red flags."

CLICK HERE to see the next "checkout sceen," including this message:



To the BBB, this message screams, "SCAM!"  According to Charlie Mattingly, president of the BBB serving Louisville, Southern Indiana and Western Kentucy, "Anytime you are asked to wire money to a person you don't know well and trust completely, for any reason whatsoever, you should expect that you are dealing with a scam." 

Tis’ the season for scam artists to come out of the woodwork! The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers who are doing their holiday shopping to be on the lookout for a number of websites purportedly selling personal electronics, but failing to deliver the products after receiving payment by wire transfer.

Other bogus websites, maybe operated by the same scammers, include www.cesaroom.com, www.qbelam.com, and www.circuitown.com.  Each of these sites offer a variety of personal electronics including Play Station 3’s, unlocked iPhones, and laptop computers at discounted rates. The websites give a number of options available for payment. However, when interested parties try to check out, they are sent a message stating that the only available method of payment is wire transfer.

BBB president Charlie Mattingly says, “Once money has been sent by wire transfer, there’s no way to get it back.  Consumers have more protection when they use a credit card to pay for items online.  Never make purchases through an online site that only accepts payments through Western Union or MoneyGram."

According to verbal complaints to BBB in Calgary AB, which have all been lodged from the United States, the products ordered may never be delivered. Further, the organization seems to change its name and URL frequently: in recent weeks it has appeared as Bargain Town, Qbelam, Circuitown, and now Cesa Room with a Calgary address.

A BBB staff member posed as a customer and contacted the organization under the guise of buying a laptop. She indicated she wished to pay using a credit card, and received a message back saying that “due to high rate of fraudulent activity” they would only accept a wire transfer from consumers outside of Canada. As the BBB operative had indicated she was a Canadian resident, it appears that the return message was automatically generated, intending to dupe citizens of other countries.

BBB recommends consumers research companies at www.bbb.org before buying from them online.  Never send money by wire transfer to an unknown recipient. And, of course, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

For more information, go to the Better Business Bureau website at www.bbb.org

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