Boston police said today they feared thousands of people will descend on the Hynes Convention Center later this week for a bridal show – only to discover the “show” was an Internet scam.
“What we found out is that there is no show,” Detective Steve Blair said at police headquarters this afternoon. “It was a scam.”
According to police, someone set up a bogus website and created accounts on Twitter and Facebook, all to promote “The Boston 411 Bridal & Home Show 2010.” The promotions claimed it would be held at the convention center March 5-7.
Blair said today an estimated 5,000 people paid at least $15 a person and that about 200 businesses also paid fees, ranging from $350 to $4,000. The payments were made through PayPal, police said.
Police said they began their investigation last week, but decided to hold a press conference today to alert the victims about the scam so they could cancel any travel plans they had for coming to Boston.
Police set up a special e-mail account they want victims to use so they can gather evidence in the case. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The scammer or scammers have not yet been identified, but on the website announcing the bridal show, a woman by the name of Jamie Edwards of Boston appears to be the contact person for the fake event. The site includes a Boston-area telephone number.
Jimmy Jay was at police headquarters today listening as Blair briefed the press on the scam. Jay, 60 and of Weymouth, said he lost time and money to the scammer.
After a series of conversations with Jamie Edwards, Jay produced radio ads for the show in return for getting the cut-rate price of $335 for booth rental, he said.
“I am shocked,” he said. “It amazes me that this would happen, that I’d get caught up in this sort of thing because I am pretty sharp.”
Jay said he personally knew 55 vendors who fell prey to the scam.
“I’m in disbelief,” he said.
The scam included the Twitter account of theboston411. Today, the account indicated that it had been active since last fall and that it was used to ‘tweet’ announcements of the bridal show beginning Sept. 23.
Did you or someone you know fall victim to the scam? E-mail email@example.com to tell us your story.