Scam call from “Mitchell Communications” / “Faithful Marketing” / “Vandell Communications”

By | August 6, 2010

UPDATE [August 30, 2011]: Tony Mitchell has threatened to sue me for criticizing him on my blog. Read all the details here, and please consider chipping in a few bucks to help cover my legal defense. Thanks!

UPDATE [February 7, 2011]: As others have noted, they’re now making calls under a third name, “Vandell Communications”. I can confirm that’s how they’re spelling the name because, for some inexplicable reason, @VandellCom followed me briefly yesterday on Twitter before unfollowing me. D’oh!

UPDATE [November 30, 2010]: If you receive one of these calls, please report it to both the National Do Not Call Registry and the FCC. The latter is more likely to result in action against the caller, but it’s important to file both complaints.

UPDATE [November 7, 2010]: Please see my Open letter to Tony Mitchell, the owner of Mitchell Communication Group, a.k.a., Faithful Marketing.

UPDATE [October 29, 2010]: When this article was first published, on August 6, 2010, they were “Mitchell Communication(s) Group”, but now they’re “Faithful Marketing”. They’ve changed their name, but not their modus operandi. I’ve updated the title to reflect the new name, but I’ve otherwise left the article as originally posted.

Got a scam call today I wanted to let other people know about.

The caller ID was “Gorden Leslie” with the phone number 773-891-5581. Here’s a transcript of the message:

Hi, this is Patrick calling from Mitchell Communications Group. I have made numerous attempts to reach you [lie!] regarding an entry form that was filled out in your name within the last 12 to 18 months to receive a new car. [probable lie!] This will be my final attempt to notify that your name was pulled and you’re going to receive one of our top four major prizes. It would be in your best interest to give me a call back as soon as possible. The number is toll free at 1-877-279-3457 extension 243. We’re not a telemarketing agency [lie!] or a timeshare and this is not a cold call so please do not ignore this message. I’m very aware of the do not call list so I wouldn’t be calling unless you actually entered. [lie!] This is a time sensitive matter I do look forward to hearing from you. Once again congratulations my name is Patrick.

Just for kicks, I called back and was connected to a woman who identified herself as “Rhonda, your prize coordinator.”

She asked for my name and phone number. I told her that it sounded an awful lot like a scam, so to prove she was telling the truth about my filling out a contest entry form, she’d have to give me back my name if I gave her my number. She got all defensive and said it wasn’t her job to “prove” anything to me. Needless to say, this proved that it’s a scam, since a real, legitimate contest wouldn’t hesitate to prove that you’d actually entered. I decided to play along and gave her my name and phone number.

I took notes for the remainder of the call. Here are some highlights that I managed to jot down:

  • She said “top three major prizes,” in contrast to “Patrick’s” four major prizes.
  • She claimed that I had filled out an entry form at a “mall, sporting event or festival” 12 to 18 months ago and “the contest is now closed” and I’d been selected as a winner.
  • She said the three prizes were:
    • 1st: 2010 Ford Expedition or $25,000;
    • 2nd: fly and stay holiday (she went into lots of detail about this; guess what the prize everybody wins is!); and
    • 3rd: 27″ flat-screen television.
  • She said my wife and I had to go in person to find out what we’d won and sit through a 90-minute “award celebration and presentation” for the “grand opening of a new travel agency.” She claimed that the name of the travel agency was “GCI Travel”.
  • The address she gave for the presentation was 800 South Main Street, Mansfield, Mass.
  • No children or guests would be allowed to attend the presentation with us.
  • We had to bring two forms of ID — a driver’s license and a major credit card — with us. “These are for identification purposes only and will never leave your hands.”
  • She gave us a claim number, MCG534.
  • She said we had to agree to let them publicize us if we won the car or we wouldn’t receive it.
  • She claimed that I’d indicated on the entry form that I was married, over a certain age (I think it was 25 but don’t remember for certain) and make $60,000 per year. She said we would have to fill out another survey at the prize event and if the information didn’t match we wouldn’t receive the prize.
  • She tried very hard to convince us that this wasn’t a scam. She said the point of the contest was to make us feel good about this travel agency so that maybe we’d give them our business later, although there was of course no obligation. The phrases “you don’t have to buy, sign or join anything,”, “nothing to be skeptical about,” “we’re not here to waste your time,” “just trying to show you guys a nice time,” and “no trick no hoax no scam” were all used.
  • She said she was going to fax or email us a letter with confirmation of all this information and we would have to sign and bring it back with us.
  • She said we could go to pick up our prize tomorrow (yes, tomorrow!).
  • When I told her my wife was out of the country for the next several weeks, she first asked if there was another married couple that could attend and claim the prize on our behalf, and then asked if my wife could fly back into town for the day to claim the prize and then fly back to wherever she was (really!). She said that once the Ford Expedition was won, the prize drawings would be over.
  • When I told her that no, neither of those was really an option, she gave me her phone number (877-249-6405 ext. 126) and told me to call her back when my wife was back in town. She said she wasn’t going to send us the confirmation letter until then. It’s a shame; I really wanted to see it just for kicks (and to get more information about the scam).

Interesting fact: According to Google maps, one of the companies that does business at that address is “Premium Destinations Northeast.” Hmm.

I can’t find anything definitive on-line about a travel agency named “GCI Travel”.  But I think in fact they’re a timeshare company.

I filed a complaint with donotcall.gov and the FCC (both are important). I’m pretty sure this is a timeshare scam, and I’m also pretty sure their phone call to me was a violation of the do-not-call law.

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371 thoughts on “Scam call from “Mitchell Communications” / “Faithful Marketing” / “Vandell Communications”

  1. Jackie

    I just got the same cll. I called back and got the same information to go to P&D Services, 793ainSt., Mansfield, MA at 5:45 on Thursday. Same three prizes: car or 25,000.00, air fare for 2 anywhere in the USA, or 40″ TV. I took all the information down. When I googled P&D Services all I got was this and 2 other complaint sites, and a blank Linked-in page. SCAM.

    Reply
  2. Bonnie Lyons

    I just got the same call, free 2016 car, 25K, or fly & hotel anywhere in US!
    Has anyone actually entered 792 Main Street in Mamsfield, and what happened?
    Are the Police aware that they ask you for( two forms of Id,)?
    Please let me know , I was going to actually call their bluff!

    I am going to copy Mansfield Police on this , HAS IDENTITY THEFT BEEN OCCURING AT THIS ADDRESS?????????????

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    I just got one as well and also signed up through the Whole Foods contest at the festival. I actually went through the whole process to see what the schpeel was since my parents have actually successfully gotten free travel by managing to sit through a sales pitch and not making any purchase. I got a “confirmation email” for the appointment and its from email address uses a domain that doesn’t exist, so it definitely doesn’t seem legit. Here it is in case you’re curious:

    Here is your tour confirmation!
    2 messages
    [email protected] Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 10:54 AM
    To: [email protected]
    The Welcome Center
    792 S. Main Street
    Mansfield, MA 02048

    CONGRATULATIONS!
    The 4 round-trip airfare “Fly Away, Get Away” is yours! This fabulous vacation package is good for four (4) Round Trip Airfares. Your vacation package is good for two years from issue date and has a retail value of $906.00 – $4,500.00. You may depart from most major U.S. airport. Your “Fly Away Getaway” package includes a 47-page booklet with pictures and descriptions of all 37 destinations. Advance reservation is required and you must purchase hotel accommodations from the air ticketing agency First Priority Travel when booking your trip.Your destination choices include but are not limited to: Orlando, Miami, 4 main Hawaiian islands, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Cancun, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New Orleans, London, Paris, Rome, and much much more!!!!

    For claiming your package on a weekday by next Friday, you’ll also receive 2 bonus gifts:

    A 3 day and 2 night Getaway
    Good to 33 popular destinations for 1 year
    For 2 adults!

    Destinations include but are not limited to Orlando, Daytona, Ft. Lauderdale FL, Las Vegas, Gatlinburg TN, Aruba Dutch Caribbean, Puerto Vallarta Mexico, Cabo San Lucas Mexico, Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Hawaii, Maine’s Coast, Massachusetts Coast, Atlantic City NJ, Poconos PA, Niagara Falls, British Columbia, Montreal Quebec. See more details below under Terms and Conditions.

    Your second bonus gift is a $50 dining card! Good to use at several local and major chain restaurants! See more details below under Terms and Conditions.

    It is our pleasure to confirm your scheduled appointment in Mansfield, Massachusetts to attend our 90 minute motion picture presentation. You will learn how to save thousands of dollars on your future vacations. It is a group theater setting so it is very important you make it there on time. Upon arrival, all of our guests fill out a brief questionnaire and are offered complimentary snacks & beverages. Then a representative will escort you into their private theater, you will be treated to a motion picture presentation highlighting vacation experiences from around the world. You will be helping us and we will have the opportunity to show you that comfortable vacations, in exotic locales, are no longer just a dream! *We ask that you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your appointment time. We Value your time, we start our presentations promptly.

    Please call customer care with any questions at 603-366-3352.

    DIRECTIONS TO THE WELCOME CENTER
    792 S MAIN STREET
    MANSFIELD, MA 02048

    Traveling from the North (Boston):
    Take I-95 South toward Providence, and then take Exit 6A to I-495 South (Blue Star Memorial Hwy.) towards Cape Cod. Take Exit 11 to RT-140 South (S. Main St.) toward Norton. 792 S. Main St. is on your left at the corner of Reservoir St., Comcast Center music venue is across the street. *LOOK FOR OUR “WELCOME CENTER” SIGN! First building on the left.

    Traveling from the South (Providence):
    Take I-95 North into Massachusetts, and then take Exit 6A to I-495 South (Blue Star Memorial Hwy.) toward Cape Cod. Take Exit 11 to RT-140 South (S. Main St.) toward Norton. 792 S. Main St is on your left at the corner of Reservoir St., across the street from the Comcast Center Music Venue. *LOOK FOR OUR “WELCOME CENTER” SIGN! First building on the left.

    Traveling from the East (Cape Cod):
    Take I-495 North, and then take Exit 10 (RT. 123 West.) Turn Right onto RT-140 North, follow for the 2.7 miles. 792 S. Main St. is on your right at the corner of Reservoir St., across from the Comcast Center music venue. *LOOK FOR OUR “WELCOME CENTER” SIGN! First building on the left.

    Traveling from the West (Worcester):
    Take I-495 South toward Cape Cod. One mile past the I-95 interchange, take Exit 11 to RT-140 South (S. Main St.) toward Norton. 792 S. Main St. is on your left at the corner of Reservoir St. across from the Comcast Center music venue. *LOOK FOR OUR “WELCOME CENTER” SIGN! First building on the left.

    Terms and Conditions:
    Dining Dough Cards – There is no expiration date. Select your zip code, select the restaurant of your choice from the participating restaurants, print your discount certificate and dine. Redemption instructions are on the back of the card. Rules discounts and restrictions for each restaurant are up to the participating restaurant. Limit of one (1) certificate per restaurant. Multiple certificates may not be combined at a restaurant. Dining Dough Cards and certificates have no cash value.

    The three day two night mini vacation getaway is good for 2 adults, for 12 months. At 33 travel destinations, hotels include Holiday Inn, Sheraton, Ramada, Fairfield Inn, Country Inn & Suites, and Amerisuites. You can book your hotel reservations either online or by mail, upon booking reservations a $50 room deposit is required to hold your reservations, this deposit will be refunded upon check out. There is a two week cancellation policy required, if cancelling within two weeks your $50 deposit will not be refunded.

    This promotion is open to individuals and couples who are both between the ages of 25-72, and who have a combined annual income of at least $40,000 Married couples must attend the presentation together at the same time. Cohabiting couples: Both must attend together, and possess photo identification with the same physical address. No children please.
    Accommodations must be reserved through the air ticketing agency starting as low as sixty-nine dollars per night (E.G. Hilton, Ramada, Best Western, etc.) and minimum stays range from three to twelve nights – depending upon destination selection. You must give the air ticketing agency a 45 day advance reservation notice. If using all four tickets at once, you must purchase two sets of hotel accommodations.

    Two forms of identification are required. Acceptable identification is a driver’s license/photo ID and a major credit card, debit, or checkbook (Master Card, Visa, American Express or Discover). We do not ask for any numbers and there is NOT any cost to attend. This is just a second form of ID. United States residents only limited one premium per household. Travel club members, airline employees or travel agents or relatives of employees are eligible for the promotion. Participants agree they have not attended a travel club tour within last 30 days. No group travel is permitted; a group is considered more than one family traveling together to the same gifting location, with the same arrival dates. This promotion may not be combined with any other promotion. With any gift received, consumer is responsible for any taxes, port charges, gas surcharges, processing and delivery fees. You must bring this Invitation letter with you In order to receive your gift.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    My boyfriend and I entered a contest via a paper application at Cambridge River Fest for a Whole Foods Gift Card. I received a voicemail saying that I won a contest from River Fest, and my name and my boyfriend’s name was mentioned. I won the gift card… how exciting! I called the individual back and he said that I won a trip worth $4500. I was surprised because I did not enter a contest for a trip, but I figured it must be legit because he mentioned the festival? He listed the conditions of the trip, and had me verify my boyfriend’s name. He then proceeded to inform me that in order to accept the prize I had to attend a presentation on a travel club. The name of the company he was calling on behalf of is Welcome Center Travel in Mansfield, MA. His name is Jay Bernier, phone number 603-366-3326. He then said that I could not accept the prize because I was under 25, but could transfer to someone else. I told him I would have to get back to him and hung up. After we hung up, he immediately called me back and left a message saying that if I didn’t want to go to Mansfield, his supervisor said that I could attend an event in Cape Cod. This is sad and dishonest; they are preying on people that really could use a grocery store gift card. I knew something was fishy, and these comments verified that for me. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      OMG I just got this phone call and I was told the same thing.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      I also received the same offer after entering the same raffle at River Fest. Was the raffle sponsored by Whole Foods? I can’t remember.

      Reply
      1. Wish22

        Just hung up with a man with an accent with the same pitch:
        Go to the Welcome Center at 792 South Main Street, Mansfield, MA.
        Won a prize in the last year at a WalMart, mall, event, etc for a contest we entered (yeah, ok!)
        3 choices were 40″ TV, Vacation, $25K or a new Ford truck.
        When he transferred me to his supervisor so I could give my e-mail, I hung up, as I was reading this page while I listed as I had googled the number!
        The number that called me was 508-443-6564. Living in Central MA, I only picked up because I thought it was someone from my church group and the number looked local. Interesting that this original post is from 2010. How could something so scammy still be around after 6 years? Awful. 🙁

        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          I was recently in touch with the regional marketing director of Whole Foods. He stated that Whole Foods provided the gift cards to the Cambridge Arts Council for RiverFest, however Whole Foods was not part of how the actual raffle was conducted.

          At this point it sounds like the Cambridge Arts Council may have provided (or allowed access to) the personal information entered for that raffle to a 3rd party. Cambridge Art Council has yet to respond to two voicemails and an email. Really disappointed in the Cambridge Arts Council.

          Reply
    3. Anonymous

      Thanks for posting this. I also did the Whole Foods gift card for at the River Fest — no other prizes were mentioned, and that’s the only thing I filled out at the Fest.

      Just got the same pitch too! One of those 4 free roundtrip airfare dealies where you have to use their travel agent/hotels after coming in to the “Mansfield Welcome Center” for a 90 minute presentation. No, Katherine couldn’t email me any info without a scheduled date to visit. I said I was completely booked for the next two weeks. Unfortunately, she said, the offer would no longer be good in two weeks. Ah, “opportunities” lost!

      Reply
  5. deborah cote

    Received the same call with all the same promises. The person who left a message was TODD. When I call the number the woman’s name was Stacy she also told me the same infomation about the prizes. Fast talker sounded very interesting but to good to be true that really sucks.

    Reply
  6. Eric

    Yup’
    All Bullshit’
    The name I got was Nicole and the number was the same as above, so I called and asked for Michelle, it was the same same idiot I spoke to yesterday, I could tell from the underlying tone in her voice, and she responded to Michelle, so then I asked her or is it Nicole, the name I was originally given.
    She stated that she goes by both names, so then I asked if she also uses Todd?
    She then asked me what the reason for my call was, when I asked her why are you calling people to scam them, she abruptly hung up….
    I think I will continue to harass her….
    I’ve got nothing better to do

    Reply
  7. Thanks for the Info

    Got a call from them today, May 13, 2016 “P D Services” #s used 888 490 3664 x 878 and Michelle’s cell # of 315 623 0796 address has been changed to 792 South Main Street. In trying to look up their company, I was sent to Police Departments, thought that was amusing! Glad this post came up when I tried to google by address.

    Reply
  8. Tim

    I just recieved the call from “Welcome Center”, located at 729 South Man Street, Mansfield, MA. 02048. Same bullshit, you or your partner may have filled out an entery. (Sounds legit?). The thing is, they really wanted me to meet them in Mansfield. I asked for an email conformation and they said that I would need to commit to meeting them first. I said send me the email and then I would decide. They said that they would but never asked for my email before hanging up. Huh.

    They called my cell, the number they called from was (508) 120-6631.

    Reply
  9. Steph

    Just received a call where the prize was supposedly sponsored by “Welcome Center” in Mansfield, MA. Call showed up as “No caller ID available.” He asked if I recalled signing up for a sweepstakes in a store in December and I told him no, I don’t usually do that he said a friend or family member may have signed me up. I was apparently one of 100 winners chosen from 50,000 entries and would win one of the prizes others have noted – TV, car, cash, or vacation.

    He asked me a few innocuous questions (relationship status, age range, and minimum income) and then tried to convince me to come to Mansfield, MA. When I asked him what my name was he said the name was not attached to the “coupon” and gave some lame response about protecting my security. Then he said the call was being recorded for training and quality control purposes, at which point I told him if that was the case he was actually breaking the law for not telling me that at the beginning of the call (Massachusetts is a dual consent state for voice recording). I told him it was obvious that this was a scam or timeshare sale and re-iterated was breaking the law by recording my voice without my permission. He kept interrupting me and seemed to be desperately trying to convince me to not hang up as I hung up on him.

    Reply

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