BBB warns of possible scam monopolizing on the patriotic spirit
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Better Business Bureau recently received reports of a possible scam targeting businesses near military depots and installations. Business owners have said they were contacted by a company selling ads in a “CFNR Guide” or a “Referral Guide” to soldiers moving into the area.
The business claims to be working with local military officials to create the guide. Corpus Christi Army Depot recently received word that the business was using their name to sell advertising space. However, military officials there say they have never heard of the company and do not know anything about a guide for service members.
BBB searched for information about the company, but could not find any record online or any corporate filings with the state or county.
One business owner in Corpus Christi reported paying more than $1,500 for one of the ads. Once she had paid her money, she said, representatives for the company stopped answering the phone.
“I would have never thought that I would have fallen for a scam,” the business owner said. “This was real. I mean, to use the Army Depot? To actually put that on your letterhead? They’re brazen.”
She said she did not doubt the representative’s story until she started asking for a copy of the guide to show her employees. That’s when the excuses started.
“Their response was,…‘I’m sick. I’ve been real sick. I’ve got something, can’t get over it,’” the business owner said. “I thought,‘This is not professional. Just because you’re sick or some of your people are sick doesn’t put you off your publication a month.’
“After that, they just didn’t answer my calls.”
A similar scam hit businesses near Fort Lee in Virginia, according to news reports. There, a company contacted local businesses saying they would be recommended to soldiers moving into the area. That business also referred to the publication as a “CFNR Guide.”
Companies reported paying hundreds of dollars only to find out that the guide was not real.
BBB recommends businesses take the following advice before buying advertising:
· Start with trust. Check out the publication’s BBB Business Review to see its history of complaints, how long it has been in business and more.
· Review the publication. Ask the representative for past examples of the publication and where it is distributed. Be wary of anyone who refuses to provide these things.
· Pay with a credit card. Never pay by cash or wire transfer, and be wary of paying by check. Credit cards offer additional protections to consumers. Make sure you’re not paying so far in advance that you can’t ask for a charge back should the publication never come to pass.
· Take your time. Walk away from any offer that seems too good to be true or has an immediate deadline. Any legitimate publication will allow you time to think about the purchase. Pressure to ‘buy now’ is a red flag.
· Do not pay up front. You may be able to make a partial payment up front, but do not pay the entire bill until you have seen proof of the advertisement.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB.
About Better Business Bureau:
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Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748. ###