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Sail Away Wine in North Kansas City warns of faulty coupon scam

Sail Away Wine scam certificate
Posted at 10:02 PM, Dec 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-05 23:21:29-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A North Kansas City business is warning others to stay vigilant when buying certificates and coupons for businesses online.

Jay Hightower, general manager at Sail Away Wine, says the worry started a few weeks ago when an employee noticed a customer's gift certificate seemed off.

"Our normal certificates are on our watermarked letterhead with our logos and things like that," he said.

Upon further examination, Hightower and his employees noticed a things were off.

"This one is just a copy and pasted word document," Hightower said. "Plain white paper, all that stuff. So like I said it was a pretty big red flag."

It's the kind of thing a customer may not notice, and this one hadn't. They told the employee they got it at a charity auction months earlier.

The appearance of the fake coupon started a search down the internet rabbit hole — where the owners found a website selling fake certificates for all sorts of local businesses.

"They just kind of picked, almost like they went through the yellow pages and put their name, the businesses name and said like, 'Hey buy a certificate through our website,'" Hightower said.

He says the fakes had information on them that dates the fraudulent coupon back nearly to when Sail Away Wines opened. Hightower assumes the website has been selling them for months.

"How many more of these gift certificates are out in circulation? That's kind of our main concern," he said.

The holidays are rife with online scams, but Hightower says the solution is simple — just cut out the middle man.

"The best way is to always go straight to the source," he said. "Call ahead of time, make sure the business does offer services through that website."