junk mail

Brent Finnegan -- October 26th, 2007

If you spend much time downtown, you’ve probably walked by Innovative Marketing Solutions (IMS) on Water Street. I’ve never paid much attention to it until recently, when I came across some strange information about them on a few blogs and online forums.

According to at least two sources, IMS has been linked to some misleading junk mail.* The mailer has Delta Airlines and Budget Rentals logos featured prominently at the top. It also includes a bogus Delta boarding pass.

Operators at Delta (404-715-2600) and Budget (800-283-4382) said their companies are not associated with the mailer.

The back of the boarding pass reads:

This advertising material is being used for the purpose of soliciting the sales of time shares inerests [sic]. Please call for complete details of participations, terms and restrictions.

The address:

Reservation Department
76 West Water Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22801.

That’s the address for IMS’s office downtown.

Generally, the purpose of mailers like these is to phish for recipients gullible enough to call the 800 number to confirm their flight. On October 17, “Michael” posted the following on the consumer-run watchdog site 800notes.com, where people share info and track all the unsolicited calls and junk mail they receive: *

It is Innovative Marketing Solutions. They sell their phone/postcard/mailing/sweepstakes services to many different vendors… I work in the mortgage industry and am contacted daily by lead generation sites and companies that promise to sell me people “inetersted” in my services. What they are selling is a “sucker list” of people that respond to these types of marketing ploys. The people may not want the service, but that does not matter because they just need to hit their # of “contactable” leads. This is why you get phone calls from mortgage companies who say that you filled out a form online and that is why they are calling you. The company thinks it is true, but it is not.

The mailer says, “To claim this special gift, simply call 1-800-296-0095.” As 800notes user “Redbeard” pointed out, a Google search for that 800 number brings up this page for Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corporation (presumably based in Luray). According to the statement on that page, AHM is there “help you avoid foreclosure” of your house by assisting you with a second mortgage.

Take a close look at that web address (screenshot). It’s eValley.biz, also known as that eBay store that recently opened on the corner of Water and Main. There was a DNR story about IMS owner James “Jim” Mason, opening the eBay store in June.

An operator at I spoke to at IMS knew nothing about Allied Home Mortgage. Like I said; strange.

* See correction here.

12 Responses to “junk mail”

  1. linz says:

    I wonder if Jim adds the email and home addresses of his ebay customers to the IMS database as well. IMS sounds like a pretty shady way to make a living, whereas I was happy to hear an ebay store had opened downtown. Nice investigative work, finnegan!

  2. finnegan says:

    I don’t know, linz. I would hope not.

    Many years ago, when I was desperate for a job, I worked for about a month at the Great Eastern call center on the east end of town, making calls in hopes of getting “pass overs” (usually these were elderly people who wanted a free vacation). I was told not to deviate from the script they gave us to read from, which stated that the recipient would get a free weekend at Massanutten, and only have to listen to a one or two hour pitch, after which they were free to say no, and enjoy the rest of their free vacation.

    I hated that job. I never made commission. After a few weeks, I started to realize what I was actually doing. I walked out in the middle of a shift.

  3. chrisfb says:

    The timeshare business is incredibly shady. One business strategy is to sell timeshares to people who can’t really afford them. Once these people realize that it is not in their budget to have a “vacation home” they have already paid their 2000 dollar down payment. This works in the favor of salesmen because they make 2000 dollars and then they can go and sell the same timeshare to another family who also can’t afford it.

  4. Dave Briggman says:

    Wasn’t Benny Neal a timeshare salesman?

  5. Dave Briggman says:

    BTW, IMS charged a client of mine $1200 for a static website that contains, to date, only two pages…it’s been that way for months.

  6. We use WebsitePros for ours. 5 pages and the ability to change anything anytime. They say we only can chage it 30 minutes a month but I know better than that. All for 25.95

  7. danno says:

    Dave- did your client agree to the price, or was it added? As a developer, I would love to make two static pages for $1200, but I’ve usually seen standard sites go for about half.

  8. zen says:

    I’ve actually checked out one of those pitches for a timeshare at Massanutten. It was incredibly long and incredibly shady. We were told once that the entire resort would soon be closed to the public and only homeowners and time-share owners would be allowed to use the facilities. Because I was so astounded, I asked if I understood correctly, and was assured that was what was to happen. That was 2 years ago this past September.

    Everytime we refused their offer and said we were not interested, the deal got better. Frankly we only went because of the money and free nights offered. Never went for the 2 free nights, but spent the $150 as soon as we spilt.

  9. Dave Briggman says:

    danno, they agreed to the price on a completed site…still static in nature, but two pages was a small part.

  10. ammc says:

    interesting…always wondered what that place was.

  11. CLN says:

    IMS came to my house to take pictures and price numerous items that they were supposed to put on E-bay. They took the stereo system with them but fortunately left the other large items. Interestingly none of my items were ever put on e-bay and when I went to pick up the stereo they couldn’t find it but was told they would find it and deliver it. Since then I have e-mailed them 5 times and received no response and gone to the store 4 times and still they haven’t found it. Essentially they stole my stereo.

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.