A fervid July sparks confusion, and leaves us gobsmacked as Vice President of RewardStream Alex Best speaks out; Wal-Mart and Dilliard's help consumers fight against deception with a cautionary tale, and protection tips; new network emerges; summer link list. You don't want to miss this...
An oppressive matter is weighing on me, and I want to be honest with you all about it. As so many investigations do, they get botched up; upon weeks of inquire, the wrong suspect is nabbed, then objurgated for their crimes. Discrepant findings are often overlooked, or do not surface for some time. This happens all too often when detectives go manhunting for their criminal. The evidence laid before them leads to someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like those plainclothes detectives, I may have made a mountainous mistake by apprehending the wrong suspects while the real one's are at large. RewardStream came forward, denying ownership of directsurveysolutions.com, and I haven't been successful in connecting them to anything else. It's looking like RewardStream are innocent of all charges, and that is upsetting because their reputation is on the line. Not how I operate. The real culprits have gotten away, and now there are more complaints than ever. So whoever is behind this has ripped people off for well over a year.
Before RewardStream's acquittal, I need confirmation that they are innocent on all accounts, because it is still unclear on their addresses and locations. The domain, webrewardstream.com, along with a complaint by someone who referred to them as "reward stream.com" is suspicious as well. Could their unresponsiveness be a result of traveling? If so, that is understandable because many companies send their employees out on business trips. I will include my posts to and from Vice President of RewardStream, Alex Best and my e-mail below.
Alex: "Wozniak, I'm interested in your reference to RewardStream, above. I work with a company called RewardStream - we are a Vancouver-based loyalty marketing technology company (www.rewardstream.com) that's been in business since 1999 - we build loyalty marketing solutions for a wide range of global brands. We do not do anything like what you talking about, above. However, we have had the odd email or call find its way to us to see if we are the company that defrauded them. I'm curious where you found a reference to RewardStream in all this? I'm trying to track this down and deal with it properly."
Me: "Hello Alex,
Thank you for responding. The problem we're having is with the gift program RewardStream maintains, not the other aspects of the company. So far, all the addresses on the gift sites circulating around the web have pointed to the one's connected with your company, which leads us to believe RewardStream are behind these operations. As you can see, many members were scammed and want justice. There have been no reports of payment from 2009 up until now. Perhaps you weren't aware of the "gift program", but is there a way to find out who at RewardStream might be behind it?
Could you verify these addresses? These all came from the gift pages, and were linked to RewardStream. Just tell me if you recognize them.
::long list of addresses::
This is one big mess, and I'm just trying to solve this awful puzzle. Too many people were deceived.
As I don't have any of the pages you refer to, I can't verify that these addresses are linked to us in any way. I do know that you posted in 2009 about "the real CEO of RewardStream" and in that post listed a number of addresses for our company, two of which were actual addresses we've had in the 11 years we've been in business (the one on mainland and the one on smythe). If you have the URLS for any of these pages that have these addresses I'd like to see them.
When I do a WHOIS lookup on directsurveysolutions.com there is one address in the list above ... 1917 West 4th Avenue Suite 279 Vancouver, BC V6J-1M7. We have never worked out of an office at this location. Why don't you look into that one? There is even complete contact information for the person who owns the domain www.directsurveysolutions.com - and there is no connection to rewardstream.
We are a reputable software company with a global client base; we build sophisticated online loyalty programs for our clients, nothing like what you are talking about.
Let me know if I can answer any more questions. We are keen to sever any connection between our company and these "scams", as I'm sure you can appreciate, and it isn't helping to solve the mystery or put a stop to these activities. You can reach me at the contact information listed on our website: www.rewardstream.com ... perhaps a conversation would be in order.
Alex Best, RewardStream"
Okay, so directsurveysolutions.com is not managed by RewardStream. But when you say, "and in that post listed a number of addresses for our company." So what other addresses that I have belong to RewardStream? Obviously 1917 West 4th Avenue STE #279, Vancouver BC V6J-1M7 got mixed into my address list somehow. Since re-examining all this, three unique names have appeared to me; so more than one company have may have ownership of these sites. Too much confusion surrounds this.
I also have a question regarding this: http://www.channeladvisornews.com/story.cfm?item=88
If your company is honestly not the puppetmaster behind these operations, I would like to help you "sever" those ties, and bust the real bad guys. I appreciate your response, and will be contacting you via e-mail. We can accomplish much more by discussing this privately.
Then my e-mail to her, dated June 22, 2010.
So there is no tie between RewardStream, and directsurveysolutions.com. What about the other addresses? You said, "and in that post listed a number of addresses for our company"; to be clear, which addresses other than 1020 Mainland St., and Smithe St. are there? I would like to compile a list of your addresses, so they can be removed from my pile. I must have 10+ addresses altogether. And Iast year I stumbled upon this address: http://web1.webrewardstream.com/SplashPage.aspx?g=0321c502065643b7b82dbdf19e26e11f&c=658&s=__DefaultSubcampaign__&se=05 That has nothing to do with your company, right?
Someone also made this complaint,
"RHULENE WILLIAMS asks:
August 29th, 2008 at 3:09 pm
I`M WRITING THIS E-MAIL TO YOU BECAUSE OF THE WAY I FOUND OUT ABOUT REWARD STREAM.COM I WAS REPLYING TO A SURVEY. IN THE FALSE HOPE OF RECEIVING A FREE DELL LAPTOP COMPUTER OFFERED THROUGH YOU. I FILLED OUT THE SURVEY AND BOUGHT SEVERAL ITEMS FROM A LIST OF THINGS OFFERED I USED MY CREDIT CARD FOR THE PURCHASES AND THEY WERE CONFIRMED. I WAS NOT ABLE TO GET TO THE CONFIRMATION LINK FOR MY COMPUTER. I FILL AS THOUGH THAT THIS IS FALSE ADVERTISEMENT, I DID THIS IN THE HOPE OF RECEIVING THIS LAPTOP FOR FREE AS QUOTED. I DONT HAVE ANY MONEY TO JUST THROW AWAY, I CAN NOT AFFORD MY OWN COMPUTER,I USE THE COMPUTER OF A FRIEND AS ANOTHER USER. I WOULD LIKE FOR MY CREDIT CARD PURCHESES TO BE REFUNDED. I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED IN THIS WEB SITE. YOU CAN E-MAIL ME AT RHULENE.WILLIAMS GMAIL.COM THANK-YOU.
Granted that was 2 years ago, but it is still on the internet. People often visit complaint sites, and by reading one with "reward stream.com" in it, it doesn't look good. Any idea why this person says "reward stream.com", or are they mistaken? I saw this complaint last year, and it made me think the webrewardstream.com was related to rewardstream.com. At the time, I had been investigating the webrewardstream domain, and the above complaint told me the people at rewardstream.com were up to no good. I typed "rewardstream.com" into my search bar, and found your site. Many marketing and technology companies manage online "gift programs", so I thought that was the case after viewing rewardstream.com.
This blog is simply about loyalty programs, not an online "gift program", right? http://www.channeladvisornews.com/story.cfm?item=88 Your company builds programs for, say, a major hotel or airline that customers can reap rewards from? Just an example there. Can you confirm 100% that webrewardstream.com, or any other gift site hasn't been managed by your company? If not, the webrewardstream.com domain, and the complaint may help you "sever" those ties. The complaint is from 2008, but perhaps replying to it would be in order.
I'm composing a new blog entry to clear up this confusion. Until the real culprit is found, everyone will call them "the Canadian company" again, because in all truth and honesty the addresses point to Canada, and there is evidence of fraud there. I'm sorry for the induced headache, and for any inconvenience this may have caused. It's good that we deal with it now instead of it festering with each passing day. I hope this helps, and thank you.
Someone I conversed with gave me their take on this matter...
"another idea - perhaps rewardstream llc is the official name for the affiliates and publishers and advertisers and graphic designers, so they all think they are dealing with a legit company. and all the other names like reward group are the shell names for the customers so when they complain they are not attacking the reputation of the real culprit involved, reward stream. this is a real business tactic btw. its been done before with other kinds of industries"
"see thats the thing. each of those sites has a different address! lol. and rewardstream has their own. i really do believe rewardstream is connected to the sites. i believe they keep their address separate from the websites' addresses because their intention is to scam. need to look good for the publishers, advertisers, and let all the other addresses receive the complaints via BBB etc. that is my opinion. they are unlike acquisis, who started out paying, then gave up on paying. i never saw a company like this who intended to scam from day one, at least in DIY."
Definitely possible, but how do we prove that with mixed addresses? Unless we tie an address, phone number, or name to them I cannot swing the sword. About the "shell names" that are mentioned, Reward Group is the DBA in connection to directsurveysolutions.com. Further investigation lead to an address match, and gave us the registrant's name. See below.
My next step is e-mailing the lady in my letter to Alex, Rhulene Williams. Since she was scammed by "reward stream.com" perhaps she has helpful information. I was really hoping to close this as I have dealt with this same case since August of 09. My glorious plan was to gather the hapless victims in one spot, and lend them my resources to take necessary action. Back to square one I suppose. You might have noticed blog alterations. "Canadian company" was substituted for "RewardStream" until this mess is resolved. If RewardStream are guilty I will edit my changes, but if I am to blame I'll take on the responsibility. It's unfortunate there wasn't more information a year and a half ago, or else this wouldn't have happened. *long sigh*
A new investigation is launched on webprizeland.com. I just started looking into them tonight... Click to enlarge.
It shows a private registration, but supplies the address anyhow. Fortunately that'll do since no address exists in their T&C or policy... Should be fun digging into something new.
Wal-Mart, and Dillard's department store target spam...
"The goal of this scam is to encourage consumers to spend money on "sponsor offers" in the belief that they will eventually receive a high value gift card. However, after fulfilling the "sponsor offers" the consumer may never even receive the gift card or will have spent more money on the offers than the worth the gift card.
How these scams work:
1. Consumers either receive a spam e-mail or come across a web advertisement or web site offering a Walmart or other well known gift card worth a large amount of money.
3. Once this information is entered the consumers may be asked to take part in a series of surveys.
4. Once the surveys are complete (if they were offered at all), the consumer is given a number of webpages where they have to "participate" in a certain amount of "sponsor offers." The number of offers may vary, but they will end up costing the consumer a great deal of money in fees, subscriptions, and products. In addition, at the end of the process there is no guarantee that the consumer will even receive the branded gift card.
* Walmart does not solicit online for individuals to complete online surveys for gift cards, nor do we send unsolicited emails asking individuals to participate in our surveys.
* Walmart does not endorse and is not affiliated with any "sponsor offer" related program or survey;
* Walmart will never send you e-mails or surveys that are contingent on your making purchases, subscriptions, or fulfilling other financial requirements;
* Drawings for the receipt survey occur four times a year. Winners of the register receipt gift card are notified by certified mail, never via email.
How to protect yourself:
* Don’t open or respond to unsolicited e-mails offering free gift cards;
* Don’t click on or respond to online ads or websites offering free gift cards;
* Pay attention to the website URL. If the URL does not match the branding to a legitimate website navigate away from the website.
To report suspected Gift Card Sponsor Offer scams:
If you suspect you have been directed to a phony website claiming to be connected with Walmart, please send an e-mail with the link to firstname.lastname@example.org. The e-mail abuse team will then work with authorities to put an end to the particular scam.
If you suspect you have received a fraudulent e-mail claiming to be from Walmart, please forward the e-mail directly to Walmart at email@example.com. For investigatory purposes, please do not cut and paste the e-mail, change the subject line or send it as an attachment."
"MARYVILLE (WATE) - A local woman's cautionary tale may help other online shoppers avoid giving out information for offers that appear to come from a well known department store chain.
When Emily Riggs searched for Dillard's website, she thought she found it. To her delight, it also said she could win a free $500 gift card.
Emily entered her email address and then clicked the continue button on the site. "Then it prompted me to enter my name, address and phone number. I did that."
However, "Once I clicked further, it stated asking me a variety of survey questions. It asked me if I was interested in identity theft protection, what kind of hobbies I like to do, my income, my age range, male or female," Emily explained.
"At that point I realized, I don't think this is Dillard's. These are questions they would not ask me," Emily said.
The website is actually for a company called yourrewardinside.com.
When Emily first searched on Google, what appeared at the top of the screen said it was "Dillard's official site."
But once you're on the site, the fine print reads "yourrewardinside.com is not affiliated with Dillard's."
Emily admits she didn't read that far. "Basically it says by entering you certify that you know this is not Dillard's and you're giving your information willingly."
"Most web pages have fine print at the bottom. I unfortunately didn't pay attention to it. Now I wish I had," she added.
That's because she receives troublesome offers daily from the company. "It's sending me a lot of emails that make no sense." For instance one says, "My delivery for a Dell laptop is coming. That's not true. I don't have one."
Emily has tried unsuccessfully to unsubscribe, but she still receives calls and emails. "I worry about who has my information now. My information is floating somewhere out there."
On Dillard's real website, you see its latest slogan, "The style of your life." Current sales are also featured, but there's no free $500 gift card offer.
When 6 On Your Side contacted Dillard's about what happened, a company representative said, "Successful retailers are sometimes the target of disreputable individuals using our good name for a dishonest agenda. We have contacted the Internet search provider and asked that this search result be immediately removed. We serve our customers at a high level and monitor our site daily for such activity."
Emily has this advice for other shoppers. "Make sure you read everything before you put in your information. I realized in the middle of it, but it was already too late."
Emily is working through Tennessee's Do Not Call list trying to end the troublesome calls apparently generated by yourrewardinside dot com.
6 On Your Side hasn't received a response from yourrewardinside.com."
Wal-Mart and Dilliard's want no part of the freebie scene. Can't say I blame them. They've undoubtedly received inquiries about the spam sent to people's e-mail addresses. I recognize both of the "sample sites" on their page, and the first one pictured looks like the Canadian scammer bunch. Same look and feel to their layout, hm. My only gripe is not all freebies are scams, and this may make legitimate networks lose members. On the Dilliard's story, I respect that they put "yourrewardinside.com is not affiliated with Dillard's." You must read the fine print, or these things can happen. I contacted a site affiliated with yourrewardinside.com several weeks ago, and they never responded to me. Might be a red flag if they truly are unresponsive to all e-mails though. I think I will send them another.
Cool off with these deals...
*summer link list*
http://www.consumergiftcenter.us.com/?config=7019&src=WC-87054aaa:242782: - 12 offers, 2 refs/$1,000.00 Visa
http://www.myrewardscenter.us.com/?config=5872&src=WC-259136aaa:206352: - 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 IKEA gc
http://www.giftcard-bonanza.net/?proid=13011465&gotoid=1610&parid=82&camid=1869&creid=6571&subid=&email= - offers unknown/check the value of 4 round trip airline vouchers
Member Source Media (ConsumerGain)–-
http://pickthegift.net/G/landing?campaignId=2142&subcid=6484#cid=2142#sid=70#vid=763 - offers unknown/4 Six Flags theme park passes
http://bookedoffers.com/G/landing?campaignId=2622&subcid=1717#cid=2622#sid=70#vid=1186 - 8 offers, no refs/$500.00 check
http://flatpanelrewards.com/samsung3d/?lid=samsung3d_5616_EP1&add_offerid=31382956&addomain=rscounter10.com&addomain_id=66 - offers unknown/46" 1080px, Samsung 3D LED HDTV deal + misc gifts.
http://producttestpanel.com/vizio52/?lid=vizio52_13156_79207002xXx1057xXx7&add_offerid=2934133&nopop=1&addomain=ileadsoffers.com&addomain_id=6 - offers unknown/52" 1080px, Vizio LCD HDTV deal + misc. gifts
http://laptoprewardszone.com/hpenvy/?lid=hpenvy_5616_EP1&add_offerid=588892&addomain=rscounter10.com&addomain_id=66 - offers unknown/HP Envy 15 laptop + misc. gifts
http://myfreetrip.com/vegas/?lid=::add-6392_vegas_&add_offerid=9531413&addomain=grz67.com&addomain_id=2 - offers unknown,/$2,000.00 Las Vegas trip deal + misc. gifts
http://www.giftcertificatedelivery.com/form/iframe/10885/5604/?&ref=10885 - offers unknown/Dyson ball vacuum cleaner, and Hoover steam cleaner deal + misc. gifts
I'm sorry this was so serious, but it's only right you all are abreast of the latest developments. I am mad at myself, and am disappointed at the situation but it is what it is. Can't undo what's been done, must move forward. Hopefully some sort of response from RewardStream comes our way. I should be able to determine their legitimacy at that point. On a positive note, I started a ConsumerGain site last week, and all but one offer has credited! So yeah, that's exciting. I'll concentrate on that while I wait, lol. Anyway, I hope this finds you all well, and if I haven't answered your e-mails, don't despair. Woz is pretty backed up, but will respond as soon as possible.
Take care of yourselves,