BBB warns about Bitcoin Mining Computers


People are complaining Austin, Texas-based Cointerra, computer manufacturer that “mines” bit coins, is not giving promised refunds.

Consumers, who say they spent over $6,000 per unit for the devices, sought refunds when the company stated in February that the machines they ordered in 2013 would not work as advertised. Complaints are coming from U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia customers.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin has more information about the company and specific consumer complaints. A few customers received refunds, but many have not, and some say the business is not responding to calls or emails.

Cointerra first came to BBB’s attention in March and April when 11 complaints against the company were closed. In the past month, however, 39 complaints were filed, which prompted a warning. The company has not explained the recent wave of complaints nor responded to BBB.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has issued an Investor Alert about bitcoins and calls them “more than a bit risky” as an investment.

BBB offers the following advice for shopping online:

  • Do your research. Check out the company’s BBB Business Review before purchasing anything from a website.
  • Pay with a credit card. Charges made on a credit card can be disputed after a purchase, whereas debit, cash or wire transfer transaction cannot.
  • Review refund and shipping policies. If you can’t find the terms and conditions, ask the seller through an email or telephone call to provide them to you in writing.
  • Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, a shopper should be provided with a confirmation receipt. BBB recommends printing a copy of the confirmation and any sign of the expected delivery timeframe for future reference.

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Watch out for summertime doorstep pitches


By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Ada County resident Nancy Kozlowski, and her husband, Joseph, was so concerned about the paving company installing asphalt on their neighbor’s drive that she called to verify the company’s trustworthiness.

“The price was just too good to believe,” she says of the pitch made to her by the company. “They said they could put in 300 feet of asphalt on my driveway for just about $6,000.”

The company went from her doorstep to the neighbor, who accepted an offer.

Her driveway is nothing but a dirt lane, and she knew a good road base, gravel and grading would be needed to put the asphalt down or it would crack up.

“I’ve been driving up this lane for so many years, I think I can drive up it another 15 years,” she says.

BBB has received calls from Eagle, New Plymouth, Tetonia and Garden City about paving companies doing work in the Snake River Region.

A New Plymouth homeowner says company representatives of the same company that approached Kozlowski misrepresented their identity. At times, she was confused with whom she was dealing.

In Tetonia, the sales rep said he was from Idaho Falls, but the truck had Menokan, N.D., on the door and license plates from North Dakota.

A Boise man says he was standing on his driveway when a company representative approached him about paving his driveway with “extra asphalt he’d had left over from a previous job.”

Summertime brings a warning to not do business off the doorstep.

Door-to-door asphalt paving companies, roofing repairs, lawn services, and other seasonal workers are making the rounds trying to find work. Remember, just because someone shows up on your doorstep doesn’t mean you need to panic or react.

Faulty bids, underpricing, overpricing, bad contracts, and partly done work have been reported. Old or bad contact information on business cards, printed estimates, or agreements provide little or no help to homeowners.

Watch for the warning signs:

  • There are leftover materials from another job. Professional asphalt contractors know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete each project. Rarely will they have large quantities of leftover material.
  • You are pushed to make a quick decision. Trustworthy contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for days or weeks. It should specify in detail the work to be performed and the total price. They also don’t mind you checking them out before signing a contract.
  • Never do business off the porch. Check with BBB.org before buying. Research the company before agreeing to job.
  • Cash-only sales. Most reputable contractors will take checks or credit cards.
  • The company is from out-of-state. Look at the truck the representative travels in. If it is unmarked or has an out-of-state license plate, be cautious. Even if the representative claims to have a local phone number, scammers can easily purchase disposable cell phones to provide a local number in the area they are soliciting. Also, don’t be afraid to ask to see their driver’s license.

If you suspect you are dealing with a questionable paving company, contact the local police or sheriff’s departments immediately and then contact BBB.

– This column first appeared in the Idaho Statesman, June 5 edition.

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Fraudulent promoter given six years for grand theft in Idaho Falls scam


An Idaho Falls man was sentenced to prison on charges of grand theft Tuesday for scamming Riverbend Communications, according to KIFI TV news.

Ryan D. Thueson, 34, was ordered to serve up to eight years in prison – two years fixed and six years indeterminate for misleading the business into believing he was an events promoter, but instead took monies and did not fulfill services.

In September last year, Riverbend Communications said Thueson, doing business as 78 Productions, took money promising to bring Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum and others into Idaho Falls area to perform. Riverbend Communications set up an escrow account to guarantee the appearances, and entrusted it to Thueson. The money was collected over a period from September 2012 to September 2013.

According to police reports, Thueson claimed to be working with the entertainer’s promoter, but event communications and the promoter were fictitious.

Thueson will be eligible for parole after two years, Bonneville County Prosecutor Bruce Pickett said.  7th District Court ordered Thueson to pay $228,500 in restitution to Riverbend. Pickett said the fine was based on the amount of money stolen.

In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed charges of forgery and using a computer to defraud or get money or services.

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