White van speaker scam warning

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by Meredith Yeomans

azfamily.com

Posted on July 21, 2011 at 9:49 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 15 at 1:53 PM

GILBERT, Ariz. - It’s called the White Van Speaker Scam, and you’ll find dozens of videos when you look it up online.

The videos are of people from around the world selling what they claim is high-end audio equipment right out of the back of a vehicle.

Jennifer Crispen knows the pitch all too well.

“It was right after I made the deposits that I was approached by a man in a white truck,” she said. “He asked if I lived nearby.”

After playing nice for a few minutes, Jennifer says the speaker salesman got down to business, claiming a mix-up in paperwork meant he had extra inventory.

“It was all taped up. He had several of these in his trunk,” she said. “It looked like a typical stereo box that I would walk away from Best Buy with.”

He said the speakers with a brand name, Paramax, retailed for $2,500.

But because he needed to get rid of them, he sold a set to Jennifer for just $200.

It's money she now wishes she could get back.

“Little by little, I'm starting to put the pieces together that it wasn't really going to work at all,” she said.

After taking them home, Jennifer says she soon realized this isn't some high-tech sound system.
In fact, she says it didn't even come with enough parts to hook it up.

Buzz Jensen of Paradise Home Entertainment says the story rings a bell.

“They're just junk!” he said.

Buzz showed us a set of Paramax speakers - identical to Jennifer's - that a customer brought to him, and what he found inside was a surprise to say the least.

It's a bag full of sand, Buzz says was stuffed inside a speaker to give it more weight.

“So, this is not exactly the way a speaker is supposed to be designed,” he said.

Buzz says these speakers are nowhere close to what salesman say they're worth.

That at the most, they cost $50 to $75 to make.

“S these guys try to show you that they have something that's of great value, that you're getting a great deal on and it's not a great deal,” Buzz says.

3 On Your Side tried to track down the man who sold Jennifer her sound system.

But the address on his business card led us to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, a former home turned museum for Frank Lloyd Wright.

“It drives me nuts!” Jennifer said.

Back at Jennifer's, the whole ordeal still doesn't sit right.

But thanks to quite a bit of handiwork by our own 3 On Your Side photographer, her speakers now work.

Jennifer says that's some consolation after spending hundreds of dollars on what she says amounted to a headache.

If you’re approached by one of these speaker salesmen, experts say the best thing you can do is simply walk away, and then call police.

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