Better Business Bureau Hot Topics for August 2007

This list is current as of July 31, 2007. Readers should take into consideration the importance of the practice in question and the total performance of a company. For complete information, visit

If you hear of something that sounds too good to be true, give us a call first and we’ll check it out for you. Consumers and businesses are often our direct link to scams occurring in and around northern Indiana.

1. Phoenix Direct has a little of everything – promises of employment, an ethics policy and top name clients. The problem? They are all lies. An Indiana consumer was told he could make $125 an hour, even during training. His first job was to test Wal- Mart’s Moneygram system. He was instructed to deposit the $2,500 check mailed to him by Phoenix Direct and then Moneygram the same amount to Canada. He did it! The original check was counterfeit, so the consumer is out the wired money.

2. Counterfeit check scams are everywhere. An Indiana consumer has received twelve checks, ranging from $4,290 to $12,000, in the past nine months. He says this is only the tip of the iceberg. These checks accompanied letters informing the consumer that he had won $75,000 or $750,000 or even $1,800,000. He was instructed to call a toll-free number. During the call the consumer is instructed to deposit the check and then wire or mail the same amount to cover taxes or transfer fees. Thank goodness the consumer didn’t do it, but there are lots of consumers out there who believe they have struck it rich. They do as instructed, but when the bank processes the check, they find out that it is counterfeit. We need your help. Consumers who receive these checks are asked to send the originals to the BBB at 22 E. Washington, Indianapolis, IN 46204. One company in Canada owns many of the toll-free numbers. The owner has agreed to disconnect these numbers when notified by the BBB.

3. Vivid Videos sells adult videos on the Internet. An Indiana consumer received a call from someone claiming to be with Girls Gone Wild, offering four videos for the price of one. When the consumer offered to send a money order, the caller refused, and kept asking for a credit card number. Consumers have complained about unauthorized credit card charges. This California company has the BBB’s lowest rating.

4. Belford High School/Belford University sends emails offering a diploma based on life experience. The problem? The diploma is worthless! Belford is what is referred to as a diploma mill. This Texas company has the BBB’s lowest rating. Tell-tale signs of a diploma mill: No need to study; no attendance required; a flat fee is charged; guaranteed degree; you will receive your diploma in days, weeks or months; and they are typically through email.

5. The Cordless Swivel Sweeper is advertised on TV. Consumers are complaining that the product doesn’t work, but they have a difficult time getting a refund. 124 complaints have been filed against this California company, and they have the BBB’s lowest rating.

6. Red Fitness is advertised on TV. Complainants who have ordered the rotation exercise device state they were not aware the total cost would be around $200. The company has been known to send debts to outside collection agencies when additional payments are not made. 129 complaints have been filed against this Texas company.

7. National Value Network runs ads in newspaper classifieds regarding foreclosed or repossessed properties or vehicle auctions. An Indiana consumer called the company for more info. He suddenly found that money was being debited from this credit card. Other consumers have complained about exactly the same thing. This Los Angeles company has the BBB’s lowest rating.

8. Travel Agents Go Direct offers a free trial membership package, but consumers are complaining their credit cards are being debited before the trial period is over. 304 complaints have been filed against this Florida company.

9. Geiko Financial and Trust is an advance fee loan scam. Note Geiko is spelled with a "k" not a "c" like the popular insurance company. The company gives an address in Annapolis, MD. When a BBB representative drove by the address, they discovered a newly constructed two level business center. No Geiko! The BBB rep called the property leasing company. No Geiko had ever leased from them. The BBB rep was able to find out that the website is registered to a Francis Ivanson, with an address and cell phone number in Canada. No surprises here. Thanks to the Baltimore BBB for their investigation. Most of these advance fee loan companies are located in Canada, but give local addresses. One of these operations gave an address on north Meridian in Indianapolis. It turned out to be the Catholic Archdiocese!

10. Business Alert – Express Transaction Services (ETS) sends credit card processing supplies and office paper to businesses that have not placed orders; then they demand payment. Until recently, ETS was using an address in Michigan. Now they are using the address of 1508 E 86th Street, Indianapolis. The BBB has determined that both are mail drops. The company is actually located in Montreal. 200 complaints have been filed against this company, and of course have the BBB’s lowest rating. The authorities in Canada and US have been notified. Thanks to the Grand Rapids BBB for their continuing investigation.

11. Adult children, keep an eye on your elderly parents. An elderly person wrote 78 checks in amounts ranging from $5 to $100 from February until May, depleting over $2,000 from his Checking Account. Our guess is many of these checks went to bogus "charities," or lotteries and sweepstakes, as many of them ranged around $20. The BBB suggests you take a look around at what is being mailed to your parents’ home. Once they are on a scammer’s list, they will be harassed with mail, telephone calls, and anything else these scammers can do to take their money. Help protect them.

React to this story:


Recommended for you