Holiday Shoppers Seeking Hard-to-Find Electronic Games are Falling
Victim to Bogus Online Advertisements
(December 1, 2000) -- Better Business Bureaus in the United States and
Canada today issued an international alert to caution consumers about web sites that
falsely advertise the availability of popular electronic games and related products.
Consumers in states across the U.S. have contacted the Canadian Council of Better
Business Bureaus (CCBBB) to ask about the legitimacy of two Canadian-based web sites
(URLs: www.ps2storeusa.com and www.ps2storecanada.com) that are falsely
advertising "a large supply" of Sony Playstation2 products.
The product has sold out in many retail stores, so some parents are searching the Web
in hopes of placing an order for delivery this holiday season.
"The CCBBB started to receive calls earlier this week from consumers who visited
one of these web sites, placed an order and hadnt received the product as promised.
We continue to receive more than 20 complaint calls a day," said Bob Whitelaw,
president of the CCBBB, based in Ottawa, Canada. "Whats particularly alarming
is the fact that purchasers were asked to fax a photocopy of the front and back of their
credit cards to assure speedy delivery of their gifts. No legitimate business will request
photocopies of your personal financial information."
The BBB has been unsuccessful in its attempts to locate the principals or business
owners responsible for the web sites in question. The company is identified as Playstation
Store of USA and/or Canada, 300 Main Street, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada E1C 9T6.
Sony Computer Entertainment Canada has advised the Better Business Bureau that any
commercial web site that claims to have "thousands of" Sony Playstation2
products for sale is making a bogus claim. Sony has asked the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police to investigate and has requested a cease and desist order against the
Senior officials at Visa and MasterCard Canada are alerting their U.S. counterparts
about the potential for credit card fraud.
During the holiday season, consumers are reminded to be extremely cautious when
evaluating advertisements for gifts and products that are known to be in short supply and
not available in their local retail stores.
"Some parents abandon common sense when theyre on the search for
hard-to-find popular toys, and scam artists know this. Over the years, BBBs have reported
similar surges in fraudulent offers connected to the sale of Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch
dolls, and other in-demand toys," said Ken Hunter, president of the U.S.-based
Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The BBB advises Internet shoppers to do business with merchants they know, or look for
an online seal that signifies that the merchant is affiliated with a reputable online
consumer protection program, like BBBOnLine.
"If youre not familiar with an online store, do some research before you
buy. Responsible merchants will clearly post their physical address and telephone number
on their web site. Use that information to check the businesss complaint record with
the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) or local
consumer protection agency," Hunter said.
Popular electronic games and products are also being advertised through online
classifieds and auctions. Consumers are cautioned to exercise similar care when evaluating
the sales pitches of private sellers.
"If you are considering purchasing a product from an individual who is selling
goods via the Internet, your legal recourse may not be the same as against a business. Be
wary of too good to be true prices or deals, and if possible, pay with a
credit card, using a secure browser, to ensure the most protection if something goes
wrong. If the seller doesnt accept credit cards, consider using an escrow
service," Hunter said.
Additional online shopping tips are posted on the BBB central web site. Go to http://www.bbb.org/library/Visa-BBB.asp