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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news August 01, 2014


1/14/2013 9:57:00 PM
Recent frauds in Prescott area include fake airline vouchers, parts request, home repairs
Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

People should remain alert to recent frauds including fake airline vouchers, parts requests, home repairs and the long-running grandparent scam.

Arizonans and people across the country have reported receiving $1,400 travel check vouchers from US Airlines and American Airways that claim to be good for two round-trip tickets anywhere in the continental U.S., but neither airline exists.

"Although no Arizona residents have filed complaints with our office, we have confirmed local residents received these fake checks by mail," said Felicia Thompson, Better Business Bureau vice president of communications. "Arizona residents claim the vouchers were postmarked from Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona."

A website associated with the vouchers, TravelAndDeals.com, currently has an "F" rating with BBB because of 73 complaints and failure to respond to 35 of those complaints. The company also uses the names Travel and Deals, Travel Awards, Travel Awards Division, Travel Union, Universal Travel Deals, and United Airways.

"This situation is a clear example of why we need to pay attention to the small details when it comes to unsolicited direct mail," Thompson said. "The airline names being used are extremely similar to legitimate airlines, causing major confusion for consumers."

People who receive this or a similar airline check voucher from a nonexistent airline, should shred the document and be sure to not provide personal information to anyone associated with the mailing.

A Prescott company recently received a request for about $8,253 in parts, but noticed that the copy of a credit card and Florida driver's license included in the faxed order were both fake, so the company did not complete the transaction, according to a Prescott Police report.

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the company received the order and an employee called the bank to learn the number on the credit card was valid but the name was not, according to the police report.

When the officer checked the license, dispatch told him no record was found. Phone numbers on the order went to a non-working number and an automated voice message for another company, police said.

While hiring someone for home repairs may be something people are planning, they should carefully research who to hire to avoid being scammed, according to the Better Business Bureau.

"While most contractors are reliable, there are those unscrupulous few who end up charging too much or not completing the job at all," said Matthew Fehling, BBB president and CEO. "Knowing the red flags will help consumers choose a trustworthy contractor to help finish winter projects on time."

Red flags include:

• Door-to-door solicitations by unlicensed contractors who attempt to gain business by visiting door-to-door or through "cold calls" may not be with a local, established business.

• Contractors who say they have materials left over from a previous job may be fly-by-night operators or handymen who are based out-of-state and use their pickup trucks as their place of business.

• A contractor who asks you to get required building permits may be trying to avoid contact with the local agency because they are not licensed or registered with proper state agencies.

• Missing contact information from the contractor is cause for concern. At a minimum, require a working phone number and address, then verify the information with BBB and Registrar of Contractors.

• High pressure sales tactics can be a warning. A reputable contractor recognizes that consumers need time to consider all the factors involved in deciding which contractor to hire.

• Never pay for the entire project upfront or in cash and do not make the final payment or sign an affidavit of final release until you are satisfied with the work.

• Be careful if a contractor suggests you finance with a specific lender. In some cases, consumers signed documents and later found out they had agreed to home equity loans.

Consumers can check a contractor's license online at www.azroc.gov. For more information, go online to www.arizonabbb.org.

A Prescott woman said she recently avoided being a victim of the grandparent scam by calling her grandson before doing anything else.

A caller said he was the woman's grandson and that he was being detained in a South American holding cell on a trumped-up charge. He said he needed cash to get released, and gave detailed arrangements on how and where to send money, the woman said.

"Being a grandparent makes you a good target for a couple of reasons," the woman said. "You probably care about your grandkids and you, being retired, probably have some cash."

The woman said she was alarmed, she called her grandson first.

When the scammer called back asking when the money would be sent, the woman said she hung up on him.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: You can't cheat an honest man, so never give a sucker an even break!

"Count your change before leaving the window!"

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Article comment by: bill gordon

Since I am a handyman with my own tools and know how, I do my own work. I only work on my own home and everything is done to code or better always heve, always will. Because my life depends on it. Follow the rules, YOUR life may depend on it too.



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