Still Learning After All These Years

February 26, 2010
After 12½ years at the Better Business Bureau, I thought I had heard every scam.  I was wrong.  Yesterday, I learned about the “White Van Speaker Scam.”  An Internet search turned up hundreds of victims of similar scams from across the country.

A Louisville man reported to the BBB that he fell for this scam earlier this week when approached by two young men in the parking lot of the Kroger Store on Breckinridge Lane.  The men were driving a white Ford van and peddling what appeared to be a high-end surround sound speaker system.

According to the young men, their boss sent them to pick up a speaker system from a warehouse in Erlanger, KY.  They said the warehouse made a mistake and gave them two systems. They offered the extra system, supposedly worth $5,000 (they had a receipt to prove it!), to the Louisville man for a hugely discounted price of $370.

For ethical and practical reasons, the victim should have walked away and called the police.  He didn’t.  Now he knows that was a mistake.

The victim says the men selling the speakers were “pros.”  They had an electronics magazine with the product in it, making the offer more believable. The men even agreed to follow their “potential customer” home so that he could check the product out online before he purchased it.
The victim says the packaging looked professional.  The speakers looked great, too, but they are not functional.

The “White Van Speaker Scam” has made its rounds across the nation.  Various “pitches” are used to lure in scam victims. The scammers often use a white van, to make it look like a company vehicle.  But the scam can involve any product being peddled in a parking lot from a truck or the trunk of a car. 

The scam artists want cash, and are usually willing to follow you home or to an ATM to get it. The victim, in the end, is out the cash and left with either a bad product, or, in some cases, boxes of rocks or junk.