The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona last week sent out an admonition warning consumers of a possible scam involving a supposed sweepstakes.
At least 20 Southern Arizonans have called the BBB in the past few weeks concerned about phone solicitations informing them that they won a car, cash or other prizes.
The calls appear to emanate from Destinations Unlimited Travel Club, an apparent travel company, whose representatives urged people to attend a meeting at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort. The company rented a meeting room at the resort last week.
Lured by the promise of free prizes, people who attended the meetings were told to bring with them two forms of identification and a credit card.
But not everyone was welcome to attend.
"One woman said she was turned away because she refused to show them her credit card," said Nick LaFleur with the BBB.
The BBB said other groups like Destinations Unlimited that hold similar events often make attendees sit through long presentations only to find they have to enroll in a club or enlist as a salesperson for the company to claim their supposed free prize.
In some case, people have been pressed to pay similar companies hundred or thousands of dollars to join clubs to later avail themselves of discounted travel. The BBB warns that often the promised discounts never come.
LaFleur recently contacted the company to inquire about its sales tactics. He said a representative told him that they had some problems with a marketer they hired to call people and invite them to the event at the Omni.
Despite a company spokesperson's assurance that the problem had been taken care of, LaFleur said the BBB continues to receive calls from people concerned about claims that they won a sweepstakes.
Last week, The Explorer received a phone call from a concerned reader who said the same company, Destinations Unlimited Travel Club, had contacted her with claims that she had won a sweepstakes.
In addition, the company spokesperson said he had gotten her information because she recently requested to receive home delivery of The Explorer. The Explorer is not associated with Destinations Unlimited.
The Explorer reached a company salesman by phone Monday who identified himself as Jack.
He said, similar to what company representatives told the BBB, that marketing contractors were hired to call potential customers. He said some of those contractors may have used The Explorer name when contacting people, but was not sure.
"We have eight to 10 outside marketing companies," Jack said.
He said The Explorer's request for information would be forwarded to the company's corporate office in Dallas. He said Adrian Miller is the company president.
A review of the company's background found Miller incorporated in the company in Colorado.
Miller was the president of a similar travel company called Beachcombers Vacations, Inc. In June 2006, The Arizona Corporation Commission revoked the company's license to do business in the state.
In 2008, the BBB in Columbus, Ohio, warned consumers that Beachcombers had attempted to lure people to sales meetings, similar to those at the Omni in Tucson, by promising free airline tickets.
Miller's name appears in reference to other travel companies, including Royal Palm Travel and Castaways Vacation Club.
Neither Destinations Travel Club nor Miller's name were found in a search of active corporations on the Arizona Corporation Commission records.
A spokesman with the Omni resort told The Explorer that they had investigated Destinations and were aware that some people had expressed concerns with the company.
"It's something we've addressed with the group," Omni spokesman Dan Dickhart said. "We sat down with the company and had discussions."
Dickhart said hotel representatives told Destinations that if there were any complaints or allegations that they were doing something unethical they would be asked to leave.