Long-promised Qwest gift cards are still MIA

  • Updated: February 26, 2011 - 4:55 PM

The saga of the missing Qwest Visa gift cards continues. In November, Whistleblower contacted Qwest after several frustrated customers complained that they had been waiting months for a promotional $50 gift card -- an incentive to sign up for Internet service. This month, Whistleblower heard from another round of Qwest customers who said they were still waiting for gift cards. Mary and Robert Mitchell, of Blaine, said they had been waiting since October for a $150 gift card they were supposed to receive for bundling their phone, Internet and TV service. They made numerous calls to Qwest and Incentium, the company hired to administer the gift cards, but both companies blamed the other for the delay. When the Mitchells were told this month they would have to wait another 10 to 12 weeks, they asked for a $150 credit to their account. They were told that was impossible.

Another Qwest customer, Mike Anderson, received a gift card after months of waiting, but it didn't work.

"I get the feeling Qwest feels rather protected in this whole fiasco because the numerous problems can be blamed on the gift card company that is supposed to issue the cards," he wrote.

Qwest spokeswoman Stephanie Walkenshaw said the latest delays were caused by the unexpected departure of Incentium, which had worked with Qwest since 2008. Incentium, which went out of business on Feb. 9, blamed the closure on "difficult business and economic conditions."

Walkenshaw said Qwest is working on a new process for customers to claim their gift cards.

"We will absolutely honor all commitments to all customers expecting Visa reward cards," she said.

Arrests in 'grandparent scam' ring

Seven Canadians were arrested last week and accused of operating a telephone fraud ring responsible for stealing $3 million from senior citizens -- mostly U.S. residents -- in the past four months. Whistleblower has warned several times about the so-called grandparent scam, in which callers pretend to be a grandchild who has been in an accident or arrested. Scammers often trick grandparents into giving up the name of relatives and then fool their victims into wiring them thousands of dollars.

The Halton Regional Police Service, which operates outside of Toronto, said the seven were making about 200 calls a day and defrauding 15 to 20 victims of $2,500 to $6,000 each. Sgt. Dave Cross said the group is probably one of thousands around the world operating a similar scam.

Cross said Halton police seized lists of names of potential victims and will be coordinating with U.S. authorities to contact those people. If you think you've been a victim of the grandparent scam, call your local police department or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Center at 1-888-495-8501.

COMPILED BY THE WHISTLEBLOWER TEAM

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