Scam targets business owners, hurts student athletes
HARRISON, OH (FOX19) - Officials are warning business owners about a scam they believe is targeting business owners and high schools nationwide.
A company called “Sports Media” is asking local business owners to send a $189 payment to an address in Memphis, Tennessee, officials say.
The company has been mailing out invoices to businesses in Harrison to try to collect the money.
In return for payment, businesses are promised an advertisement in a Harrison High School “sports poster.”
Nothing happens, however, even when money is mailed.
The poster never shows up, and the high school receives no money.
“Sports Media is not associated with Harrison High School athletics," said Mark Meibers, Harrison High School’s athletic director and assistant principal. "It’s not associated with Harrison Athletic Boosters, and ultimately, it’s a scam to get their [business owners’] money.”
Meibers said despite district officials' repeated attempts to stop it, the scam has hit Harrison five years in a row.
“They rob. That’s what they do," said Meibers. "They rob local businesses and take away from high school sports.”
Meibers said he believes that the scam could sabotage potential support.
“We rely on our companies to support us. It helps us get equipment. It helps us with uniforms," said Meibers. "This unfortunately breaks trust that we build with our community, our kids, our athletes, everybody.”
The same scam has reportedly popped up in Nebraska, New York and Minnesota.
The Better Business Bureau now has a warning on its website.
It says, in part, that business owners have repeatedly complained about “Sports Media." Some of the business owners said they purchased an ad, only to find out that the high school mentioned in the invoice actually had no affiliation with “Sports Media.”
Business owners have unsuccessfully tried to contact “Sports Media,” according to the BBB.
FOX19 NOW also could not reach anyone with the company.
The BBB website claims that the company’s listed address is a UPS store.
“It’s actually really, really scary to think that one company can have such a widespread negative affect on so many schools," said Meibers.
Harrison police said they are aware of the scam.
They advice business owners to always be cautious.
Anyone who receives a call or mail related to a fundraiser that seems suspicious is urged to call the organization or Harrison police to determine if it’s authentic.
Harrison Police can be reached at 513-367-3715.
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