Consumer Alert: Big business means big money and big scams

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - If a major sporting event is heading to a city near you, like the Derby in Louisville next month, beware of businesses promising big money for no risk and no work. You have to check out a company very closely to know if it's trustworthy.

Big events mean big business for cities. Events like the Kentucky Derby, the NCAA tournament and the Superbowl bring in big money, but they can also be a magnet for scammers.

Willie Pinkton, a fraud victim, told us, "They faxed me this contract. I filled it out, signed it, and sent it back to them."

Pinkton signed a contract with Superweek Lodging hoping to rent his home during the Superbowl in Indianapolis.

Pinkton says, "They assured me my house would be rented out 'before' the Superbowl and it was going to be a minimum of a 3-day stay and make a minimum of $850.00 per day."

To get his home listed, the company told Pinkton he would need to send money upfront.

He says they told him, "I would need to send them a check or money order for $875.00."

So that's exactly what he did. And what did he get in return? Nothing. In fact, he lost the money he gave them.

Pinkton says, "I didn't have $895 dollars to give anybody. I didn't have $8.95 to give anybody. I had done everything they asked me to do and I expected them to do their part."

Home owners were told if the home wasn't rented or they wanted to cancel, they could get their money back. Again, not true.

"After the event I tried to call him back several times. I didn't get any answers."

Postal inspectors say this scam has been growing in the last five years resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

Keith Moore, a US postal inspector, told WKYT, "Be weary of investment opportunities that are high reward but very low risk."

Consumers need to do their research. One way is to contact the local Better Business Bureau and ask how long the company has been doing business.

Moore says, "The suspects generally change the website name and the company name every year after a big event."

Pinkton certainly learned his lesson. He says, "I just don't trust any of this anymore… I would never ever do it again."

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