One of the keys to effective scambaiting is keeping the scammers focused on you instead of some actual hapless victim. Telemarketers will usually hang up if you seem resistant, figuring they will just get the next sucker. But today, I received a call on one of my honeypot phone numbers that blew me away. It started out pretty normally, with a robodialer recorded message announcing “this is Michael with WCA clearing house” and offering me an opt-out option (which, based on my experience with WCA, does nothing whatsoever). Naturally I am not actually interested in opting out of future calls, in fact, I am very much interested in receiving all the calls they can throw at me. It just wastes their time and effort, and gives me an opportunity to be an obnoxious jerk like the readers of this website seem to love. So, I pressed ’1′ to be connected with my offer. The resulting fracas can be heard here:
Within seconds, I knew an epic prank call was on my hands. A man with a thick Indian accent informed me I had been selected to receive a $200 gas card for “being a good customer” (of what, I am still not sure). I immediately replied that I didn’t believe there was any way he could ship $200 worth of gas over to me from India. We spent minutes bantering back and forth about his ethnic background, his immigration status, the call center industry in India, and the language barrier resulting from his thick accent. Then I realized after about 10 minutes – he couldn’t hang up on me. I scrambled to get my call recording setup in order, and after over 25 minutes of torture already, I managed to record another 23 minutes! The offending company is called “American Auto Benefits” and a quick Google search reveals plenty of dissatisfied customers. It seems that the $200 gas card / gas vouchers are really some kind of rebate, and that the rest of the “benefits” of this program are nothing you couldn’t get for a fraction of the price from AAA or other reputable organizations for motorists. Ironically, although the telemarketer claims at one point that I was selected because I’m a Visa/MasterCard cardholder, he fails to mention that many credit card benefit packages include roadside assistance at no charge! He even goes on to say that it’s the victims fault for agreeing to use the service.
Unlike many telemarketers, American Auto Benefits actually has a website, although after looking at it you may still be wondering what exactly it is that they sell. Like many spammers and scammers, they have opted to use a private domain registration, and also have multiple websites with the same or similar content (see below). Although the telemarketer said repeatedly earlier in the call that he was from Phoenix, AZ, they publish an address on their website: 2643 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Suite 1560-411 Clearwater, FL 33759. Not surprisingly, this is the address of a UPS store (i.e. the “business address” is a PO box). But mysteriously, the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations has no record of a business named American Auto Benefits.
The Better Business Bureau, on the other hand, has two listings for American Auto Benefits, and they rate them “D”. The BBB page also provides some information on the principals of the company. The first page for “American Auto Benefits” lists their location as 11125 Park Blvd., Suite 104-344, Seminole, FL 33772, but does not include a rating. Unsurprisingly, this address is another UPS store PO box. The second listing is for “Odyssey World Travel & My Discount Savings Network”. Odyssey World Travel also has a website that happens to include virtually the same information as the American Auto Benefits website. The address for this company is listed as 10341 66th St N Ste 382 Pinellas Park, FL 33782-2306, which is yet another postal box service provided at a store called “Goin Postal Pinellas Park“. Both BBB pages list the websites and phone numbers, and the American Auto Benefits BBB page also names “Shawn Davis” as a principal. The investigation into this matter continues and a follow-up article will almost certainly appear here soon.
We’re still digging for the real truth here, but when you’re done listening to this call I think you’ll agree: few things are as satisfying as hearing a telemarketer beg you to hang up on them.
Have you received a call from “WCA” or “American Auto Benefits”? Have you been victimized by American Auto Benefits? Share your story below!
Recap of associated Companies / Names
American Auto Benefits
- Corp. Status: Not on file in FL
- BBB Review: No rating
- Principal: “Shawn Davis” (according to BBB)
- Address: 11125 Park Blvd, Suite 104-344, Seminole, FL 33772 (UPS Store)
- Phone: (877) 419-9580
- On the web: http://www.americanautobenefits.com/ also http://www.amerautobenefits.com/
- WHOIS for AmerAutoBenefits.com
“Merchant of Record”, 11125 Park Blvd 104-344 Seminole, Florida 33772, United States
American Auto Discounts
- Corp. Status: Not on file in FL
- BBB Review: BBB page (C-)
- BBB Listed Additional DBA Name: Unique Marketing of Central Fl. Inc (this cracked the investigation wide open – see below)
- Principal: See BBB page
- Address: PO Box 280159 Tampa, FL 33682
- Phone: (866) 901-5917 (according to website), (888) 225-4271 (according to BBB)
- On the web: http://www.americanautodiscounts.com/
- WHOIS: Bryan K / private
Odyssey World Travel & My Discount Savings Network
- Corp. Status: Neither name on file in FL
- BBB Review: BBB page (D)
- Principal: Unknown
- Address: 2643 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Suite 1560-411, Clearwater, FL 33759 (according to website, UPS store), 10341 66th St N Ste 382, Pinellas Park, FL 33782-2306 (according to BBB, also UPS store)
- Phone: (877) 472-1629 (according to website), (877) 472-3388 (according to BBB)
- On the web: http://www.odysseyworldtravel.com/
- WHOIS for OdysseyWorldTravel.com