Scam targets local business claiming they have won ‘Best of Richmond’

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A local scam is targeting small business owners in Central Virginia. Companies think they’ve been selected as the Best of Richmond, but it’s all a trick. The scammer is actually in Kansas.

Josh and Breese Romano are the owners of Cobblestone Development Group, an already real award-winning Richmond company, even having starred in their own TV episode on HGTV.

But just a few weeks ago, their communications manager received an email from someone who claimed to be with Richmond Business Recognition. The email said they had been named ‘Best of Richmond.’

“I mean I was really excited, when you see a subject line ‘Best of Richmond’ and you work with a company like Cobblestone, it’s an exciting thing,” said Landon Hayes with Cobblestone.

But after further digging, Hayes noticed something wasn’t right; the email was asking for money.

“But now we want you to buy a plaque that is $250 dollars and there is no substance behind it,” Hayes said.

The website looks real. After clicking the specialized link to buy your award, you can even see your award with the company’s name already engraved on it.

“It has a well set up website, it’s very to the point,” Hayes explained.

Once Hayes realized it was a scam, he alerted Breese Romano that it was a fake to try and warn her not to buy the plaque. Problem was, she realized she had already fallen for the scam just the year before.

“Here you go, here is our 2016 trophy,” said Romano as she held up the trophy she received the year before.

And this year, the email scam knowing they had fallen for it last year, hoped to entice them with buying even more this year.

“The email that came this week said that since we won two years in a row we were eligible for the hall of fame, which was of course more money,” Romano said.

So now she says the supposed award is nothing more than a paper weight.

“They are pretty good at this,” said Romano.

The Ramano’s hope by sharing their story others will be spared. The Better Business Bureau also has recently published articles alerting the public to these kinds of scams.

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