Earlier in the newscast you heard about the scam involving two high profile U.D.P. operatives; well, there’s another scam and this time it is an online advertising company. A number of businesses have fallen prey to the hoax which appeared legit and linked to the Yellow Pages. News Five’s Isani Cayetano spoke today to various business persons who paid up for a service they never got.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
When business owner Zhi Gang Ye, proprietor of Timmy’s Restaurant & Bar, was contacted by a customer service representative, from Dolphin Bay Advertising, to market his eatery online he was interested. That is until Ye discovered that he was being coerced into paying an exorbitant bill for a service he never agreed to, let alone receive.
Zhi Gang Ye, Proprietor, Timmy’s Restaurant
Zhi Gang Ye
“We have a situation here where this company is trying to do business with us but all of a sudden we haven’t told them yes or no, without actually [being] authorized they [have] already put us on their page and yet they just came and sent us a bill and asked us to pay.”
That invoice, made out to Timmy’s Restaurant & Bar on St. Thomas Street, was generated from an offshore company known as Island Yellow Pages, a subsidiary of Dolphin Bay Advertising Inc. Ye is being charged a thousand, one hundred and eighty-eight dollars for a year’s worth of advertising in an online publication called CNN Islands. Despite being guided through the process, Ye never gave consent for the company to go ahead with the placement.
Zhi Gang Ye
“They asked me if I wanted to do advertising with them and I was just saying to them let me think of it and then [that was] like within a week or two. And then they actually called me and then they guided me through a process where they [had] already set up like how I am going to log on to the page that they set up for me and then to see everything. And then I did went through the process and then that’s how it came across and then later on, like a week later, then the bill comes in.”
But Ye isn’t alone in his dilemma. A few weeks ago Priscilla Beet, manager of Belize Corrugated Pipe Ltd., was also approached by a representative of Island Yellow Pages. The sales pitch was similar, search engine optimization as a promise to increase the online presence of the company.
Priscilla Beet, Manager, Belize Corrugated Pipe Ltd.
“I was contacted by Island Yellow Pages. They said to me that they wanted to take the company on a larger spectrum of business where they have a major search engine where if you go online and type in corrugated pipe it would automatically zip in Belize Corrugated Pipe. I don’t know why but for some reason I thought they were Belize Telemedia and I said to myself, “but how Ms. Annette haven’t told me that we’re going international?” So the gentleman asked me my name, my P.O. Box number and I was giving him this information but thinking this is already in the system at Belize Telemedia [Ltd.] Well, at that point he said, “well ma’am I just want to let you know that these are the services we’re offering.” and I said, “well you know something, if you can call me back this same time tomorrow I’d like to go over with my managers the different packages. If you can call me back on the different prices of your packages.” He said, “Sure ma’am, at this same number?” I said, “this same number this time tomorrow.”
But Beet never received a follow-up phone call. Instead, she too was billed a month later for services she did not contract. Unlike the previously mentioned business owners, Robert Usher, a Belize City contractor, was duped by the bogus company. Usher shelled out money to Island Yellow Pages for advertisement that were never placed.
Robert Usher, Proprietor, Usher Construction
“We got a call saying that they could give us good advertising, advertisement and we paid for it and then after we paid for it the phone went dead. We could not get a hold of them none at all until last week they called and said they wanted payment for the New Year. I said, “But we never got any service from you so we’re not going to pay.” Then the guy said I’ll be suing you and I’ll be doing this and I’ll be doing that.”
Ye, on the other hand, alleges that he’s had his credit card information hacked by the company.
Zhi Gang Ye
“This company is trying to make me pay the bill that I owe but what happened is that I have never actually given them any permission or any authorization for any of my credit card information to them, but then yet Google is telling me that my credit card is being declined. So I got scared and I actually went to the bank and then I blocked my credit card and then I actually filed for a replacement. And then yet, after that I was wondering then I went to their page and made a few phone calls, just random phone calls on the list that they had there and then it seems that a few other businesses encountered the same problem.”
“When a gentleman reached out to us last night via telephone, calls and says, “ I am calling from Timmy’s wanting to know about Yellow Page ads, Island Yellow Page ads.” We were awfully surprised because fortunately for the man, and I have to say fortunately because at the end of it all I, in a sense, this company Belize Corrugated Pipe, stood as a testament of the lies and scams that they are a part of because when they did contact Timmy’s they did the same thing with Timmy’s Restaurant, I think it’s Timmy’s Restaurant. Unfortunately this individual got scared about the suing and he paid.”
Businesses are advised that Island Yellow Pages is not in any way affiliated with B.T.L.’s Yellow Page services. It would, however, seem as though operatives within that company have somehow managed to glean confidential information from B.T.L.’s database. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.