On July 19th, I believe, I was contacted by phone by a man by the name of Rey, out to sell me a package that would make me an independent travel agent for The Travel Network or International Travel Connection. I spoke to a man named Rey, a female, and Robert Johnson; all assuring me that this was a legitimate company and also referred me to the Better Business Bureau for their credibility. During this time, I did so and found that they are not a member, but had no complaints.
After approximately 3 hours on the phone selling me the pitch, I finally agreed to purchase the coach package for $150. with a shipping charge of $45. totaling $195.00 using my GM Mastercard.
In addition, my credit card would be charged $19.95 for a monthly web-site occupancy in which would advertise my online business. I was told by Robert Johnson that my credit card statement would show a transaction from VIP web services, and that I would get my start-up package in the mail within 7 days. I did get my package in the mail as promised within the allotted time and was provided a phone number to customer service reps. along with their extensions. I was provided with satisfying service. I was sent a W-9 form for the business aspect, and filled it out having to provide my social security number. (which now has been a BIG mistake, on my part)
Everything seemed so legit. I honestly felt I had made a good decision, until I had received another call from an advertising agency that claimed that they are incorporated with International Travel Connection or The Travel Network and would like to help me advertise my business to increase profits to as little as $2,500 to a maximum of $30,000 per month. This sounded good, and again, I authorized another credit card, Wells Fargo, to the purchase the advertising package for $5,450.
The man's name is Brandon Craig, and said he was from Smart Marketing Inc. I asked for his address and phone number as I looked up the credibility of this company on the Better Business Bureau, and found the company as a member and in good standing. The company information Brandon Craig gave me was Smart Marketing at 14720 SW Cabbernet Court, Portland, OR 97224, and a phone number of 541-207-1032. He spelled everything out for me. Brandon assured me that this was a risk-free, money back guarantee if I didn't get my start up money back within the 12-month membership. I then asked for this document, and he tried emailing me this document, trying several different ways to email me, when finally after about an hour of getting me this document, it finally arrived.
I read over it, and he told me in order to get it started, they needed a copy of my driver's license and the face of the credit card I was using, and that I could fax this along with the agreement document. I questioned why they would need my photo ID and a copy of my credit card, and Brandon told me so that the company knows that I am who I say I am, for fraudulent reasons. Again, to me, this made sense, so I continued with this process. Brandon informed me that I would be getting a receipt in the mail for this transaction within two weeks. Brandon told me that when I get it, I am to call him to proceed.
I waited a bit short of two weeks, and tried to call him for 4 days, not getting a response other than a voice message. I then was very worried. I called the president from the actual Smart Marketing Inc. using the Better Business Bureau information I had obtained using the information Brandon Craig had provided me, and discovered that Brandon Craig is not an employee of her agency. The President of the company informed me that this is the 4th call she has had from women within the past month declaring the same information regarding a travel agency and advertising agency in connection with her business.
I gave her the company information I had been given from Brandon being Smart Marketing, 14720 SW Cabbernet Court, Portland OR, 97224 with the phone number 541-207-1032. She confirmed that this was HER company address, but NOT her phone number. Prefix 541 indicates areas of Salem on down. I gave her the website address Brandon provided me and it is a yahoo account, also not the service her employees use. Their email service is a private company email service provider. She told me to keep in contact with her because she too wants to get to the bottom of this because this Brandon Craig and a Steve guy are posing to be her company and using her Better Business Bureau name as their catch to get people.
After this phone conversation with the president of the company on August 7, 2007, I phoned my two credit cards I used for these two companies to cancel my accounts, and then also discovered that both transactions from International Travel Connection and Smart Marketing had the same name- VIP web services. This indicates that both transactions seem to be from one and the same fraudulent organization.
I had the McIntosh Sheriff (out of McIntosh county, ND, submit a signed form by myself to phone provider putting a phone trace on my phone line to get the number of the blocked calls received from Smart Marketing personnel (Brandon Craig and Steve). I then called the only number that I can leave a message on and send an email to Brandon telling them that I have some questions for them to answer,-- I am hoping they will soon call me back so I can get the line trace to work and get the blocked number.
8/17/07 Late afternoon, maybe about 4:00 (blocked call info. Will tell exact time), I received a call from Steve at Smart Marketing wanting to know how he can help me. I told him that I was dissatisfied with how the company was handling this situation and that I wanted a refund. He insisted that a refund would not be issued because of the agreement I signed. My husband was on another line, and too said that we request a refund. Steve said that he would have to talk to the team members to tell them the situation and get back to us, not this day because it is late Friday afternoon, but soon.
We hung up, and about 10 minutes later Steve already called us back with a response stating that the company wants to be able to prove themselves to us and wants us back as customers, not one-time customers, that the company will offer us a package deal worth $25,000. to set up a commercial to air on the television to advertise my Travel. I knew this was another way to further get me in the hole, and I wanted to buy time till I got the blocked call information so that we could locate them and have this whole thing rolling in a better direction for me, so I tell them I need to think about it, and I'd get back to them in a couple of weeks. Steve then said that when I contact them this time, they will be sure to call me back.
Within this conversation I can go on and on how the answers to my questions were circles, not making any sense. I can elaborate on this if need be.
8/21/07 Sheriff called me and I was given the number1-602-301-4094 for the blocked call I had requested. I then contacted Consumer Protection Agency, my case manager, as I provided her with this further information. She later checked into this number because she was out ill for 3 (??) days and found that this number was listed as unavailable. I asked her what this meant, and she said, It is now disconnected.
Aug. 29th 6:27 p.m. (??)
Jim (?), supposedly higher management from Smart Marketing called on behalf of my dispute of charges on my credit card and wanted to know why I was doing so. I explained my suspicions and told him I wanted a refund. He said he can't right now because of the dispute. (whatever that means!) I then asked him if he would give me my refund if the dispute was dropped (only curious), and he began cutting out on me. The connection was lost entirely. I then waited a short while for him to call back, and he didn't.
I then called the president of the ACTUAL Smart Marketing again and talked to her and exchanged information. She gave me two names and numbers to ladies who are in the same predicament as me with these two companies (Travel and Advertising). I called them right away.
Once of the phone, the continuous calls began. My number was calling numerous numbers throughout the entire United States, but after talking with my phone service provider, BEK, we discovered my system was NOT at all calling anyone! Somehow, someone (most likely the fraudulent company) set up a connection somewhere else using my phone number as data entered and randomly calling people. I would hang up with my finger still on the end button of my phone and a call would immediately ring in. This went on from about 7:30 p.m 8/29/07 until the next day about 12:00 p.m.
During the night hours from 10:00 p.m. until 10.00 in the morning, my phone lines from both my internet and phone had been disconnected, and when BEK reconnected them, the calls began again. Now people on the line are very angry because my number called them throughout the night numerous times. I called BEK again and told them to disconnect my number and was issued a new phone number.
During the short time between my call to disconnect my phone line and it actually being disconnected my phone rang and rang, I didn't answer them. I left my house needing to escape the craziness. When I got home that evening I listened to my messages from people my line called and had received 6 messages, one in which was a murder threat to never call that particular number again, if done they would come and murder me and my family.
Because of all of this, my husband and I decided to change our phone number to end the endless calling that occurred.
Finally, on August 31st, Jerry came to my home and recorded all the messages from my machine including the murder threat. He took down the caller ID names and numbers to those that my phone had listed for incoming calls. I gave him all the pertinent information I had in copies because he told me that he was going to work on this, he promised.
12/31/07 I want to make note for you to look SPECIFICALLY at the information the VIP services (originally known to me as Smart Marketing) provided my Wells Fargo credit card company. Please look at them carefully. There are forms that are tampered with and forms that I have not seen Ever!. There is cut and pasting of my name and date happening as well as other information throughout the documents. Wells Fargo completed 2 rounds of dispute against VIP Marketing and this fraudulent company provided the same documents for both cycles, not changing a thing.
Lehr, North Dakota