Grainger Co. woman's mall contest entry leads to scam phone call

Grainger Co. woman's mall contest entry leads to scam phone call

Posted:
Allyson Jarnigan entered a contest to win a Chevrolet Camaro at College Square Mall in Morristown. Allyson Jarnigan entered a contest to win a Chevrolet Camaro at College Square Mall in Morristown.
The entry form said she may be contacted by Wyndham Vacation Resorts or Shell Vacations. She was instead contacted by a scammer in Jamaica. The entry form said she may be contacted by Wyndham Vacation Resorts or Shell Vacations. She was instead contacted by a scammer in Jamaica.
"Don't give your information out to nobody. Don't even sign up for a car at the mall," Allyson Jarnigan warned. "Don't give your information out to nobody. Don't even sign up for a car at the mall," Allyson Jarnigan warned.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

BEAN STATION (WATE) - At one time or another, you may have filled out an entry form hoping to win cash or a new car.

A woman from Bean Station in Grainger County ended up calling 6 On Your Side because the call she received about being a winner came from a scam artist.

When you enter a contest and fill out your name, address, phone number and even salary range, there is usually a company tied to the promotion, like a cruise line or a vacation resort.

Legitimate groups disclose the rules and include a reminder that you will be getting a call from the company sponsoring the contest.

There is always something exciting to entertain customers at College Square Mall in Morristown. The possibility of winning a hot looking Camaro is a crowd pleaser.

The sign says there's money in the deal, in addition to the car.

Salon owner Allyson Jarnigan likes Chevrolets, especially the retro-looking Camaros.

"Oh gosh!" she said with a laugh. "I have always wanted a red Camaro."

She filled out an entry form at College Square Mall in January, taking her chances at winning the car. She then received a phone call on February 1.

"He told me, 'Do you remember signing up for the red Camaro at the mall? I said, 'Yes.'  He said, 'Congratulations, you have won. I need you to call my manager,'" said Jarnigan, describing the phone call.

At that point she called the manager who went by the name of Malone. She says he had a Caribbean accent.

"He said, 'Do you have $900 that you could put on a card that you can get from Walmart?'" said Jarnigan.

The $900 was to pay for fees on the car she had supposedly won. Malone wanted Jarnigan to buy MoneyPak Green Dot cards.

At first, she went along with him, until the call got ugly.

"He said, 'I want the ten digit code on the front.' I said, 'I'm not going to give you the code on the front until I receive my vehicle,'" she said.

Then the call became threatening.

"[Malone said] hat he was coming to my address. He repeated my address and he was going to hurt me," Jarnigan said.

She immediately called 911 and a Grainger County deputy came to her salon in Bean Station. He also talked with the scammer.

"Malone said that he didn't care who the police officer was. He was going to come and hurt me," Jarnigan said.

She now wants to know how the information she filled out at College Square Mall ended up in the hands of someone in the Caribbean islands.

6 On Your Side went to the mall to look at the entry form. The promotion is sponsored by Wyndham Vacation Resorts, based in Florida.

By signing the entry, you agree that you may be contacted by Wyndham and Shell Vacations, but clearly, Jarnigan was not contacted by either Wyndham or Shell.

"I think somebody would have to have a key to that box in the mall to get a hold of what I signed up for," said Jarnigan.

We went to the mall office to inquire about the security of those entry form boxes. The manager said  the box where the entry forms are dropped is under lock and key, and a local vendor picks up the entry forms several times a month.

So how was Jarnigan contacted by someone other than the promotional company?

We then called the number given to Jarnigan. The voice answering claimed to be with Publisher's Clearing House.

How strange. Publisher's Clearing House is based in New York state, yet the number we called showed Jamaica.

We also contacted Wyndham Vacations, who says they appreciated us bringing Jarnigan's incident to their attention. They went on to say they are investigating and contacting law enforcement.

In the meantime, they have paused or temporarily stopped the promotion at College Square Mall. 

Jarnigan remains alarmed.

"Don't give your information out to nobody. Don't even sign up for a car at the mall," she warned.

Exactly how Jarnigan received that bogus call remains a mystery. 

In their promotion for the car, Wyndham Vacations followed the rules, clearly stating on the entry form that you could be getting a call from the company.     

These types of promotions are prevalent in Sevier County, especially Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge as companies promote time shares.

What happened to Jarnigan gives you pause about filling out one of these forms, hoping to win that big red car.   

When Wyndham discovers the reason for Jarnigan's call from Jamaica, we'll let you know.

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