Several months ago, I received a call on our landline from an agent saying that for being a PLDT subscriber, my name had been chosen in their raffle and that I have won a prize. I was not familiar with the prize though, it sounded like some sort of card. She went on to say that I have to pick it up at Homesonic of the nearest Starmall, giving me a code for confirmation. She added that I have to bring an ID to be presented to claim my prize and that I have to do it within 2 days or it will be forfeited.
I did let her finish her spiel and jotted down the confirmation code but forgot all about it the next day.
It all came back to me again when the same thing happened to FIL. Late last month, he received the same call on his mobile phone with someone saying that he had won a gadget for being a Globe subscriber. When he was asked to jot down the confirmation code, he handed the phone to me as he had trouble writing it down. I dutifully wrote down what the agent said, not knowing who I was talking with. When I heard the same spiel about having to go to Homesonic of the nearest Starmall however, warning bells started to ring in my head.
It was the same thing, Homesonic, bring ID, claim within 2 days.
Nee-naw! Nee-naw! Nee-naw! The warning bells grew louder.
I quickly hung up and fired up Google to search about it.
The first word that Google suggested as a continuation with Homesonic is SCAM! LOL!
How They Scam You
I’ve read so many blogs and related posts on the topic and based on their experiences, this is basically how they do it:
- When you go to their store (whether it’s because you’re there to claim your prize or you just happen to walk by) thye’d ask you to pick a prize from an envelope
- You’re sure to win a 2K GC everytime.
- They’d add that you also won other appliances, amounting to as much as 150K (massage chair, beauty appliances, etc.)
- You get to choose one item, which you have to pay for (less the 2K from the GC won) to be able to take home all that you have won
- The prices of all the appliances there are atrociously sky-high though (e.g. 55K for a rice cooker!) so you would of course say no
- They will do everything they can to persuade you to pay up. They’d convince you to open up your wallet to check for a credit card (Don’t ever give it to them!). They’d close in on you, bombard you with suggestions. They’d basically overwhelm (harass) you that you’d feel confused and eventually agree.
- You would then end up taking home appliances you don’t really need that you have paid for at absurdly high prices.
What’s scary is this has gone on since as early as 2008 and they are still at it 6 years later. A lot of people have already fallen victim to it. They have operated under different names like AOWA, Homesonic, and Hilton. They usually operate in smaller malls and are said to be in Home Depots as well.
How to Spot a Scam
Admittedly, the first time they called me about it, I did not immediately see the telltale signs of a scam. It’s a good thing that the prize wasn’t attractive enough for me to warrant a trip there. So how do you spot a scam?
- Inconsistency. They said that it was because I was a PLDT subscriber that I won but they’re asking me to claim the prize from Homesonic. Should it not be at a PLDT office?
- Respond Immediately. I had to claim the prize within 2 days or else it was forfeited, they said. If it were legitimate, I should have been given about a month’s time to claim the prize (unless they were movie/concert tickets).
- Suspicious Claiming Centers. It seemed suspicious that they were asking to claim it only at a certain mall and not a popular one at that.
- You did not enter anything but you won something. It might not always be a scam though because like in our case, we won tickets to a Mariah Carey concert care of a phone company just by being subscribers. We were actually not aware that we were eligible until we received a call that we won. The important thing about this is to call up the company to verify it first.
I hope that we can all be wary of scammers and not fall victim to them. Knowledge is power. Share this to your friends and loved ones.