Branson business owners say they were scammed by man selling tabletop ads
Some Branson business owners believe they were scammed by a man claiming to sell ad spaces.
Gary and Kim Lane own Here's Your Cedar Sign, a local store just outside the city limits of Branson.
"As a small business, you've got to watch your money," Kim Lane said.
However, when a man came in, supposedly, selling tabletop ads for the Branson Cafe, they bought-in on something local that looked legitimate.
"Anybody can make a business card, anybody can make a flyer, but we've entered into contracts just like these," Lane said.
They paid "Marketing Pros 4-U" $1,270, then the salesman went silent.
"About the middle of August, we looked at each other and said 'We haven't heard anything on that,'" Lane said.
He wasn't returning emails and there was no sign of the ad they'd paid for.
"Well, it got a little suspicious," Lane said.
Meanwhile, the Branson Cafe had already filed a report with the Branson Police Department.
"I thought everything was good. Then, I had one company call me and say 'You may want to check this guy out. I'm not sure it's legit,'" Cafe Owner Susie Roten said.
Roten says the man sold her on the scheme, too, claiming he'd sell ads to replace outdated tabletops.
"Yeah, it really made me mad," Roten said.
She says she feels bad for the businesses who paid for the ads.
"I thought it was legitimate," Roten said. "I'm so sorry."
While Branson Police have a person of interest, they're not releasing the man's name. As for the business, it gets an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
"Always get a list of references, too. Those references need to be credible businesses or people here in town," Assistant Police Chief Eric Schmitt said.
Branson police say always be skeptical of scams.
"Never pay up front for a promise," Schmitt said.
The Lane's are sending a warning to other businesses.
"We are going to make sure he doesn't come back to town or anyone else like him," Lane said.
Branson police are asking anyone who bought an ad from this man to please report it.