Party planner and customers hit by scammers
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It was the birthday party that almost did not happen. A Houston woman paid money to what she thought was a local party planner. It turns out the business was getting scammed and so was the mom.
The party could have been a disaster, and it looked like that is exactly what was going to happen.
The trouble started when a Houston mom called a Houston party planner, but apparently the company's voice mails were being hacked by bad guys.
The problem started more than a week ago, when Natasha Williams came across a local party planner ad and left a message with the company.
She said, "They called me back and they let me know what the base price was and what I needed to do to pay for it."
Williams says the party planner wanted her to pay $200 up front using only a special kind of prepaid credit card. As the party date neared, Williams says she was asked for even more money.
"There was an error with the first mode of payment and that I needed to send another $200 by Moneygram," Williams recalled. "Right when she said that I said, this is a scam, I am not sending you any more money."
Williams says her husband then found a Houston address for the party planner and went to get a refund. But the owner of the party planning company had never heard of Williams or taken any of her money.
"Somebody somehow intercepted their voice mails and had them routed to some other number," Williams said.
Tiffany Krenek, one of the owners of Sweetie Pie Parties, said, "She had been scammed."
Krenek found out through an angry customer that her company's voice mails had been hacked and apparently used to bilk parents out of party money.
Krenek said, "They would go through the whole process and say, 'Oh, what kind of party would you like?' and 'What kind of extra services would you like?"
After the initial shock of learning her voicemail had been hacked wore off, Krenek says she had a mission -- to save the party for Natasha Williams' daughter.
"We figured we were going to do the right thing and honor the party," Krenek said.
Williams said, "I was very pleased."
The party company owner is reporting this to law enforcement, and has taken steps to secure her voice mail in box.
We talked to the Houston Better Business Bureau about this and they said this was the first they had heard of a voicemail hacking in this manner.
action13, jeff ehling
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