Fake advertiser targeting small businesses in Oak Island and Southport

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Several business owners in the Southport and Oak Island area say they have been scammed by a fake advertiser.

Jennifer Jamerson owns Jamerson Appliance Repairs and says a man going by the name Steve Phillips came into her store and claimed he was with a magazine called “The Golf Reporter.” For $20, she was told she could get a quarter-page advertisement for her small business.

“You don’t think you’re being scammed when somebody boldly walks into your business to ask for money,” Jamerson said.

Jamerson says the man was professional and nothing stood out to her as out of the ordinary. She later found out that not only would she not be getting the advertisement, but the magazine didn’t even exist.

“I figured you only get scammed on the internet. Why would somebody walk into my business and ask for this, like, it felt real,” Jamerson said.

Amanda Lake is the owner of the store Needful Things in Southport. She’s one of five businesses in the area that also fell victim to the scam.

“It’s a lot of women-owned businesses, small businesses, that you know, $100 is or even just $20 is a lot and they thought they were paying for something to help their business grow, and to know they were just taking advantage of like that, it’s just really sad,” Lake said.

Jamerson says it’s a painful lesson to be more cautious. She says she doesn’t care about the money. She just wants others to avoid the same mistake.

“Scamming is everywhere. It’s online, it’s via phone call and now people will just walk right up into your business and try and get money from you and it worked over on us, but it won’t again,” Jamerson said.

Chief Todd Coring with the Southport Police Department says this is an active investigation. They have several leads but no suspect in custody.

Coring says if you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of someone trying to sell you something, he says you can call for an officer to come down and talk with them.