Saturday, February 16, 2002

Better Business
Bureau warns about
Vegas trip scam

By Tim Ruel

The Better Business Bureau of Hawaii is warning consumers about a fraudulent solicitation that claims to offer trips to Las Vegas sponsored by Zippy's Restaurants. Zippy's said it has no such promotion currently.

Angry customers have told Zippy's they have received telephone calls in which they are offered the chance to qualify for a "Vegas trip from Zippy's," the bureau said. In return, the callers ask for personal and financial information.

Some of the solicitors identified themselves as working for "Adventure Resorts" of Kailua-Kona and "Hawaii Travel Services" of Maui, Zippy's said.

Adventure Resorts Realty Inc., a Big Island firm, develops time-share properties and arranges for vacation packages with tour operator Roberts Hawaii.

Officials at Adventure Resorts said two of their employees may have called people offering trips and used the Zippy's name, without authorization. One such incident may have occurred in November and another more recently, said Alan Dickler, president of Adventure Resorts.

The company has a script for employees to follow, and it does not include Zippy's, said John R. Stevens, chief executive officer of Adventure Resorts. One of the employees who may have made the calls has left Adventure Resorts and another is being investigated, Dickler said.

"We have apologized to Zippy's for those instances," Dickler said.

"And it's not going to happen again I can assure you of that," Stevens said.

Stevens said Adventure Resorts has no affiliation with Hawaii Travel Services.

Joel Tessieri, general manager of Hawaii Travel Services Inc. in Lahaina, had a slightly different story.

Hawaii Travel Services, formed in March 2000, books travel reservations. An affiliated company, Bay Realty Inc., resells time-share units. A few years ago, Bay Realty and Adventure Resorts reached an agreement, Tessieri said. "If (Adventure Resorts) had resales in Hawaii, they could use us as a preferred vendor," Tessieri said. But nothing came of the agreement, he added.

Tessieri said any telephone calls were not authorized by Hawaii Travel Services. "We don't make any telephone solicitations whatsoever," he said.

It's a common misrepresentation to use the name of a legitimate company to fool people into giving out information, said Anne Deschene, president of the Better Business Bureau.

The bureau said it advises people never to give out personal information over the telephone, particularly credit card or Social Security numbers.

Better Business Bureau of Hawaii

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