4A’s Warns of Review Scam

NEW YORK-Advertising agencies beware. If invited to fax credentials to a company called Winward Properties for its alleged $1.5 million ad account, do not respond. The review is a fake. In fact, it is a telephone scam, according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
Winward recently faxed dozens of agencies claiming it is constructing a beachfront resort at the western end of an unidentified island that will include a 400-room hotel and a high-rise time-share facility with 356 units.
The rfp, from “Jon Wiggins,” claims that Winward would initially spend $1.5 million on advertising and public relations touting the new resort. Another $1 million would be allocated to introduce a new line of specialty rum and sugar products in the United States in the fall of 1998. Agencies interested in either or both accounts were invited to fax credentials to 1-809-540-5122.
Those who have faxed responses to the Dominican Republic number have been charged $50-75 per minute, according to the 4A’s, which on July 29 issued an alert to its members. The Better Business Bureau is conducting an investigation, the 4A’s said.
“We have seen this kind of thing before,” an AT&T representative said.
The rfp indicates that agencies were contacted because “one of our staff members who has spent considerable time in the states mentioned your agency as one that might be interested in this account.”
Agencies contacted include Angotti, Thomas, Hedge; Warwick Baker O’Neill; and McCann-Erickson, all in New York.
Bruce Campbell, interim president of the BBB in Columbia, S.C., said, “The rules of regulation don’t apply” to about half of the Carribean island, which is in a “no-man’s- land.” “They can set up any rate they want and it’s typically $50 a minute,” he said. “When you get the bill, you have to pay.”