ON YOUR SIDE CONSUMER ALERT: BBB reports Nixa business' identity stolen by German scammers
The Better Business Bureau is investigating the identity theft of a Nixa business this week, tracing scammers all the way to Germany.
"I put in our own company name and another website came up," said Debra Brewster, the founder of Edge Capital Advisors, LLC.
Brewster said an alert that someone had signed in to her LinkedIn account led her down a rabbit hole of information, revealing that her company, Edge Capital Advisors Group, LLC had been impersonated using a bogus website.
"It had my corporate license information, it had obviously my LinkedIn account, they took over our entire entity," she said.
Her granddaughter, Kara Musso, immediately did some digging, pointing out things that revealed the fraudulent website, created in June 2019, was fake.
"We started looking down in their social media links, we reverse image searched the images," Musso said. "It was just a crazy rabbit hole we went down."
Brewster, who's company was first started in Arizona, said her company isn't the only victim here.
"Besides using our corporate identity, they actually took another company from New Jersey, they took their employees and had all of their employees on the website, but without corporate entity," she said.
Brewster said the other company had been investigating the false website themselves since December, but she was never notified. Brewster said she didn't find out about the fraud until last Friday.
"We contacted the FBI in Arizona as well as New Jersey, their cyber crime division, the secretary of state in both the states, the department of corporations, the regulatory body, in addition," she said.
The company also reached out to the Better Business Bureau and within 24 hours they had an alert posted on their website warning of the fake website.
"They were very aggressive and I can't speak enough about that," Brewster said. "They jumped in and took a vital role with no money being asked to do that."
She said her company has not accepted any online applications in the past, so none of her clients' sensitive information is at risk. But, Brewster said they don't know how many people could have been scammed by the fraudulent website in the past.
Now, she wants to send a warning for anyone applying for a loan online.
"You don't know if they are operating through a voice over IP in some foreign country and the website is actually stating the name of the company that you do business with," Brewster said.
Shes said she has not heard back from the International Crime Complaint Center yet, but is hopeful the fraudulent website will be shut down.
Her company did not face any financial loss during this time.
Brewster said she, her husband and Musso have spent hours in their home office combing through the website to find more answers. She believes she has been able to pinpoint who may have done this, but argued they may not be in Germany.