Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wedding planner

Events of the day...
White gold wedding ring for her: $71

Titanium wedding ring for him: $90

Finding the perfect 2 tier wedding cake: $275

Booking the florist for the wedding: $450

Avoiding a wedding scam: priceless

Read about someone else's experience with this scam here and here.

Somehow, some scam artist got a hold of Nathalie's name and cell number and called us, claiming that we had won a free honeymoon stay of 3-day/2-night at any one of 25 hotels around the nation and $500 of spending money on some on-line gift catalog.

But, neither one of us remembered entering such a contest. Despite my initial suspicions, they actually sounded quite legitimate: Their return 1-800 number actually went to some large department that answered "Southern Bridal Registry", their website looked quite official and legitimate as well, and they wanted to meet us at a public location to sign papers. Claiming that we wouldn't be able to receive our prize without a legal ID, they reminded us several times to make sure to bring a photo ID at our appointment date. I even had Nathalie research them on the internet and again, things looked official and legit.

Despite my initial suspicions, everything seemed to be in order, and we've entered a bunch of contests in the past, so we figured that we actually might have won a contest. Thinking we had nothing to lose and that we could walk away without obligation at any time, we decided to at least check it out.

As we were driving to the meeting, the guy called Nathalie again on the cellphone to remind us to bring a government issued photo ID to our appointment. I smelled a rat. I began to develop the sneaking suspicion that he had some ulterior motive. I started to think that he was going to use the information from our driver's licenses for evil. The DL number can get you lots of access, from SSN to tax info, leading ultimately to the sale of that info for identity theft.

I turned the car around and went home. We had 40 minutes until our scheduled appointment. I had 40 minutes to figure out if my gut instinct was true, or if this truly was a legitimate contest. I got on the internet and did some sleuth work.

The first thing I did was look up the Southern Bridal Registry website. Looked legit. They sponsor lots of bridal shows and the such around the southeast. But I had a difficult time actually finding a webpage that listed any contests. My suspicion increased.

Next, I went to the website where I would spend the $500 spending money we won. Not only did this on-line catalog not exist, the website that did come up when I found it looked like some third-rate crap that some halfwit put together with basic HTML knowledge. Lastly, I looked up the caller ID on Nathalie's cell phone for that representative's phone number: 615. A quick search on the internet showed Tennessee.

Then the combination of "Tennessee" "Southern Bridal Registry" and "Contest" on Google revealed the scam. Nathalie and I looked at each other and grinned.

We then called the salesman back, told him to take our name and number off of his call list, and politely told him to fuck off.

Bunch of thieving bastards. Just goes to prove that there is no such thing as a free lunch.