ZEBULON, N.C. (WNCN) — Police in central North Carolina are warning small business owners about a new scam.
Several ads are circulating social media, promising a fun event at a local park with food, drinks, music, shopping, and free admission to the public. But what the ad is not telling you is that this is a scam.
The scam targets small business owners, offering them a vendor spot if they pay the price.
“It might be $50 for a vendor spot or $250, and that could be very impactful for a small business owner,” said Zebulon Police Chief Jacqui Boykin.
Chief Boykin says her department is one of several in central North Carolina warning people not to fall for these tricks.
“They’re doing it through traditional community pages where there’s usually an exchange of information going on between the people that live in that area,” she explained.
One of these scams says a ‘Summerfest’ is supposed to happen at Whitley Park in Zebulon, in August. But the truth is, the park should be no busier than the average day.
A similar scam also happened in Goldsboro.
No one has come forward as a victim of this scam yet, but Boykin believes getting the word out will protect the community as a whole.
“Especially in this post-Covid era, people are looking for ways of getting out and engaging community,” she said. “I think communities have come together like they never have, at least in my lifetime. And small businesses, especially, are trying to find venues where they can make their craft or their items or food, or whatever it is, available.”
Boykins said people should look for signs that a post is a scam — like grammatical errors, spacing issues, or misspellings.
“I think you just really need to go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t,” she said.
If you’ve become the victim of a crime like this, Boykin said you can reach out to your bank and they can assist you in reversing that charge if you get to it quick enough.
“But in some situations, that money is lost,” she said.
If you find what you think is a scam, the chief says to reach out to law enforcement and whomever that event is associated with and let them know.
“We might not have a victim right now, but us being able to publicize the event as not a legitimate event maybe kept somebody from being victimized,” she explained.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to spot a fake event ticket:
● Research before you buy. Search online for the name of the festival and make sure the
name advertised matches the website. Scammers often use names that sound similar to
those of real festivals. If you are looking at a concert or sporting event, look up details
such as date, time, venue, etc.
● Check for (working) contact information. Be sure the festival website has a real
phone number and email address.
● Watch out for prices that sound too good to be true. There is no way an event can
offer tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. If the prices are much lower
than elsewhere, it’s likely a scam.
● Vendors can get scammed too. Scammers have also targeted potential vendors by
trying to get large payments ahead of time to display and promote their business at an
event that is never happening
They also shared tips on what you should do if you find one:
● Pay with a credit card. You can dispute the charges if the business doesn’t come
through. Be wary of online sellers that don’t accept credit cards.
● Look for secure sites. The website should begin with https (the “s” is for secure)
and have a little lock symbol on the address bar.
● Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and other free online
listings. Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. Check out
third-party ticket sites at BBB.org before making purchases.