Just weeks after a Valley woman is arrested for allegedly scamming business owners over advertising, another possible scam artist comes under scrutiny.
CBS Local 2 and News Channel 3’s reports helped police build a case against Theresa Darrah, the woman accused of deceiving business owners who purchased tabletop advertisements that either never appeared or did not appear as advertised. Darrah now faces more than 40 felony charges of grand theft and burglary.
Could another person be running a similar scam? One local business says yes.
Johnnie’s Barber Shop, in Cathedral City, says they were a victim of Darrah and of another company called Xposure Advertising, a company who took money with the promise of putting an ad at a car wash on their behalf.
However, the small business says they never saw their ad or their money again.
Here’s what we’ve uncovered.
Johnnie’s Barber Shop tells us they were trying to expand it’s family run business.
“His price was the pitch really, advertising is pretty expensive and $700 for a year is pretty good for any advertising out there, for the stuff we pay here, it’s $400 for a few weeks,” said Mark Green, a barber at the shop as well as the owner’s son.
According to the customer agreement, Kyle Benson and Xposure Advertising was going to put up a 15 second slide show ad every 5 minutes at the Red Carpet Car Wash in Palm Desert.
“He would put our ad on a car wash television screen waiting room, and it was going to be for a year,” said Green.
Green tells us he now knows the offer was too good to be true.
“Right away when he never showed up. There is something fishy about this guy now,” said Green.
Xposure Advertising’s website says your message will be seen by thousands, but Green says their message wasn’t seen by anyone.
“It was like he disappeared after that, I called him for months after that, phone disconnected and all of that,” said Green.
We went to the car wash to look for the ad ourselves and found no such ads existed, only stationary signs run by a different company.
“That doesn’t surprise me, we didn’t check up on it either, which we will do from now on,” said Green.
We tried calling several phone numbers we found for Kyle Benson and Xposure Advertising and only got connected to voice mail.
We also contacted businesses listed on the company’s website. We found several who were satisfied customers. Allen GMC in Laguna Niguel told us they saw their ad scrolling at the correct car wash as did Snap in Campers in Arcadia, and 9.99 Clothing in Hemet. However that wasn’t the case for Audrie’s Limousine Service in Redlands.
“The man is taking money under false apprehensions and he does not give anyone a service,” said Roy Collinson, Ceo of Audrie’s Limousine Service.
Roy Collinson told us he signed up for an ad placement in November at Foamy Car Wash in Redlands, but the owner of Foamy Car Wash stopped working with Xposure Advertising months earlier after they say the advertising company stopping paying for the service.
“The amount of money we’ve lost is not that small, not that big, it’s only $370. It’s not a fortune but how many people has he done it too, it could be a hundred, 200, 300, I don’t know,” said Collinson.
It was a lot of money for Johnnie’s Barber Shop.
“It’s too much for a small business to take, it’s maybe only $700 but that is rent and overhead here for a month,” said Green.
After this story aired, Xposure Advertising responded to our requests via email providing the copy of the agreement shown in the video portion of this news story along with this statement:
“The office has furnished the agreement signed by Johnnie’s Barber with the highlighted portion showing what was exercised in this case. The contract was fulfilled at both The Hand Car Wash of Palm Desert and Executive Car Wash.”
The highlighted portion of the agreement reads as follows:
“In the event the original display locations closes or is otherwise unavailable to display message, Xposure has the exclusive right to relocate display to nearest available business establishment for the remainder of the contract.”
Both the owner of Johnnie’s Barber Shop Renae Samaan and her son Mark Green told us this statement is the first time they have heard their ad being run at all, let alone at car washes not named in the contract. Both have also said they have never seen an ad created by Xposure Advertising for their shop, nor has the company taken picture of the shop for it, nor have they provided pictures for it.
Xposure Advertising provided us with the picture of the ad seen here.