Consumers Offered Uncut $1.00 Money Sheet but Must Pay Much Larger Fee
Consumers hoping to cash in on an advertised offer of “valuable Gov’t uncut sheets of money” may end up frustrated and disappointed, the Better Business Bureau warns.
The company behind the ad is World Reserve Monetary Exchange, Inc., of Canton, Ohio. “Buffalo area zip codes turn up cash for residents,” said the headline on the advertisement which ran today in the Buffalo News. “Valuable government issued uncut sheets of money are actually being handed over...” BBB advised consumers this same full page ad may be slated to run in other Upstate New York publications.
David Polino, Better Business Bureau President, said the only way to get the $4 in the so-called ‘uncut money sheet’ is to buy 3 protective bankers portfolios at a cost of nearly $100. “It may sound bizarre, said Polino, but this company is banking on people willing to pay $87 plus shipping in return for the uncut money sheet. Unfortunately many will buy into the promise of future value for what might actually be nothing more than a novelty item.”
World Reserve Monetary Exchange and several affiliated businesses, including Universal Syndications, Inc., have advertised in newspapers and other publications nationwide. The company is a division of Arthur Middleton Capital Holdings of Ohio and Miami Beach, Fla., according to the holding company’s website. The holding company also oversees companies that have sold controversial Heat Surge heaters, healthcare plans and “free” digital TV converter boxes.
More than 200 consumers have filed complaints against Universal Syndications/World Reserve Monetary Exchange with the BBB. Many of the complaints dealt with concerns over misleading ads, high-pressure sales tactics, an inability to get refunds and difficulty getting the company to stop charging for additional products.
The newspaper ad for the uncut bills says: “Buffalo area residents who find their zip code on the distribution list will feel like they just won the lottery. That’s because for the next 48 hours, full uncut sheets of never circulated $1 bills are being released by the World Reserve Bank . . . directly to Buffalo area residents who beat the order deadline.”
The ad quotes Jefferson Marshall, executive director of the private World Reserve. “Residents who want to get the $1 bills had better hurry and call right now,” he said.
In February, 2012, World Reserve Monetary Exchange was the target of an investigation by members of the Internal Revenue Service criminal investigations unit. This case is pending.
The BBB of Canton, OH is currently challenging the company on their advertisement. Although the ads themselves may differ in subject, the nature of the challenges still exhibit the same primary advertising concerns listed below.
Use of the word free - BBB Code of Advertising states the word free may be used in advertising whenever the advertiser is offering an unconditional gift. If receipt of the "free" merchandise or service is conditioned on a purchase: the advertiser must disclose this condition clearly and conspicuously together with the free offer. The company maintains that all disclosures are listed in their ad in numerous locations to inform the consumer of the conditions needed to receive the free offer.
Sense of Urgency - Consumer inquiries and BBB review have indicated that the company advertisements consist of deadlines and limitations. Some consumers question the legitimacy of the deadlines, however the company position is that these restrictions are implemented to meet anticipated demand. The company also notes that deadlines are strictly enforced to meet federal and state guidelines.
Advertorials - advertorial is an ad in a form of an editorial. Through consumer inquiries and BBB review we found a majority of the company's campaigns are run in this manner. Consumers indicate confusion at first glance that sometimes create a misconception as to the company's affiliations. The company position is that it is stated clearly in their advertisement that their company has no government affiliation nor is it a government entity.
The BBB suggests that consumers buying items offered as collectibles be extremely cautious and offers the following tips when dealing with such advertised offers:
- Read the entire ad carefully, looking for disclaimers and other information that indicates the offer may not be what it seems. Make sure you understand exactly what you are ordering and how much it will cost, including shipping.
- Be wary of any offer that indicates the merchandise is a collectible and may increase in value. New items that are sold as collectibles often lose value.
- Be cautious of any company that advertises free merchandise. Such offers usually are contingent on purchasing other items.
- Be cautious of any company that advertises a time limit when offering merchandise. That is often done to create a false sense of urgency for the consumer.
- Contact the BBB for Reliability Reports by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 800.828.5000.