Monday, March 15, 2010
Caribbean Web Site Scam Alert
A True Story Of An Actual Scam
“There is honor among thieves.” Proverb
Read This And Tell A Friend You May Short Circuit A Scam
The post today is about a despicable individual who has been scamming Caribbean business owners for the past 6 years. Sadly, there is nothing the authorities can do because the Caribbean islands are not protected under US laws. The company behind the site claims to have offices in South Florida and Virgin Islands.
The story unfolds when I was contacted by a former client and friend. She had sent an invitation to me to join her new Facebook group. The name of the fan page said it all “IslandYellowPages is a Scam: if you have been Scammed join this group" If you were scammed please join the group.
Being sensitive to these things I emailed her a short message asking what happened and at the same time informing her that I could not join her group. The reasons were simple, I was not scammed and it will send the wrong message for me professionally. I did promise to help her in any way I could. This is the result of that promise.
She was livid, she sent me an email promising to get back at them using a number of revenge tactics that she described in detail which I prefer not to share here. She was ademant that the company and the individuals responsible be exposed in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and the World.
This is what I found out when I looked into it...
You will need to follow along and click the links below so you can see yourself. My friend provided the links that identified the company as IslandYellowPages.net and the named perpetrator, a Mr. David Randall Phillip, 6021 Williamsburg Way Tampa Fl. 33625. You can read the blog post here outlining all the sordid details.
The Perp's Web Site
I followed the link to IslandYellowPages.net (the one above) a website that gives the impression of being a Yellow Page Directory with a listing for all the islands in the Caribbean and the Philippine islands. Strange... is not the Philippines Islands continents apart from the Caribbean islands?
The site is positioned as a vacation directory with Hotels and Resorts listings.
Clicked on the navigation button labeled “Categories” and it brings up a listing of too many categories to read. Using the search box on the top, I typed "gifts" and used the dropdown box to pick out Trinidad.
The Client Web Listing
The search located 6 businesses in Trinidad. Next I clicked to see the website. Ok, if you did not follow the path I took still take a look at one of the sites if you are on there. Not a website at all but just a listing page with a link to a web site that does not exist.
Every other business listing had the same page. Out of curiosity I clicked back and did other searchs. I searched “cars” more listings. “Hotels” no listings, “resorts” no listings. Why would a vacation site not have one hotel or resort listings in Trinidad?
Riding On The Coattail Of A Legitimate Site
I’m no Sherlock but then I probed a little deeper into the site;s "Advertising" page. What I observed is that the site blatantly aligned itself with the real “Caribbean Yellow Pages the online Caribbean telephone directory.
Compare the sites yourself by using the two previous links to see how they make reference to Caribbean Yellow pages interchangeably with Island Yellow Pages. I’m sure that the Caribbean Yellow Pages company officials will love to see this page.
The Amazing Price Per Listing
Now here is the kicker. All the listings are allegedly purchased at a price of $954 USD per listing. That’s approximately $6000 TTD. The straw that broke the camel back for my friend was after about 3 months the company contacted her and demanded an additional payment of $500USD to keep the listing. That one page was going to cost her $9000 TTD to stay up for 12 months.
As I said, this company is preying on business owners in all the Caribbean islands and there are no authorities here to take action against them. As you may have read it is already in the hands of the Florida State Attorney and the Better Business Bureau.
Even if this was not a scam, the businesses listed on this site are not receiving any value for their money. Not only are these pages buried too deep in the site but the pages do not point to any business website or even have an email address. The only contact is a phone number.
Honestly, I was totally surprised to see the number of local businesses that had listings on this service. As I have noted in other post the digital divide in the Caribbean is wide and unscurpulous people are taking advantage of this lack of internet know how.
Even if you did not believe what was written on the blog about the owner of this site, the site itself provides ample proof its using unethical online marketing tactics to scam visitors.
What You Need To Do
Help spread the word about this site, Tell everyone and anyone you know about it, if you or your friends are not being scammed they may have friends who are. Copy, paste, tag and comment on this article so that all of your friends become aware of this scam.
This is worst than being infected by a computer virus. I commend my friend for being bold enough not to melt quietly into cyber space and keeping this a secret.
If you are on FB tag your friends to this note, not only in Trinidad and Tobago but the Caribbean.
Every business person you know should be alerted. If you have the time search the site for businesses you know, make sure none of your friends are being scammed. My search revealed a number of Trinidad businesses listed. Check by island and let your friends know how to check or direct them to this article.
Be Careful About Phone Calls
Also take note of how the site owner tries to scam companies by slapping up a quick listing after a phone conversation then attempting to collect payment. If you should ever be contacted by this company, act accordingly. Do your friends a favor let everyone know about this.
If you're on FB and was tagged on this note; cut and paste it into a note of your own and tag the people who you think this could help. Share it with your friend or make a comment. These people must be stopped. Let’s help get the word out.
This is a blog post on the Caribbean Blogger with a and a Facebook Note on Guerilla Marketing Fan page.
For an alternative quick money making site option, Try this.