Hatley Consultants Inc's fraudulent advertising scheme is posing a significant threat to radio stations. The scam, uncovered in August 2023, involved an overpayment to KHTS radio in Santa Clarita, California, and a subsequent request for reimbursement. The communication with Dilemaradio reveals the intricate details of the fraud. The incident underscores the vulnerability of radio stations and calls for immediate action to prevent further victimization.
Uncovering the Hatley Consultants Inc Scam
This cybercrime orchestrated by Hatley Consultants Inc was first discovered by KHTS radio in Santa Clarita, California. Michael May, representing the company, approached the station with an offer to purchase one month of advertising for the month of August. A professional radio commercial was provided, and KHTS agreed to a month-long commercial schedule for $4,800.
However, the situation took a suspicious turn when May informed KHTS that their client had mistakenly wired $40,800 instead of $4,800 and requested that the difference of $36,000 be reimbursed. Upon investigation, KHTS found that the wire had been sent from Canada to a US Bank in Washington State, who then sent a check instead of a wire. May's intention was to stop payment on the check once the difference was reimbursed.
The suspicious activities led to an immediate investigation by KHTS. In a statement to Hometown Station, a representative from KHTS said, “We were alarmed by the overpayment and the request for reimbursement. It was clear that something was not right, and we took immediate action to investigate the situation.”
Deceptive Patterns of Hatley Consultants Inc
The communication with Dilemaradio further illustrates the elaborate nature of the fraud. In an email dated August 22, 2023, Hatley Consultants Inc expressed interest in a 3-month advertising package with Dilemaradio, requesting details on the campaign and pricing. The email communication was professional and detailed, giving no immediate cause for suspicion.
Greetings to you.
I would like to inquire how to use your media services to advertise our client's company according to the client's request.
Could you be so kind as to provide more details on how to advertise through your media?
Kindly let me know the campaign you render, the time duration, and the price rate.
Revert with all the necessary details to know how to proceed to do business with you.
I will be looking forward to hear from you soon.
Michael May | Sales ManagerThe first/cold email.
Hatley Consultants Inc
1730 Saint Laurent Boulevard Suite 800
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 5L1 Canada
(O) 613-216-1866 | (M) 613-482-4413
However, the pattern of deception became evident as the conversation progressed. The fraudulent scheme was not an isolated incident but part of a broader strategy targeting radio stations. The emails between Hatley Consultants Inc and Dilemaradio contained statements such as:
From Hatley Consultants Inc: “Kindly let me know the best campaign you can offer for the period of 3 months to know how to proceed. I will be looking forward to hearing from you soon.”
From Dilemaradio: “Thank you for your interest in advertising with Dilemaradio. Considering your specific request, we have put together the following offer tailored to meet your needs: Spots: 1-minute ad spot broadcast every 2 hours throughout the entire day, 7 days per week.”
These communications reveal a calculated approach by Hatley Consultants Inc, using professional language and seemingly legitimate inquiries to deceive radio stations. The incident with Dilemaradio, along with the scam targeting KHTS, paints a picture of a systematic and well-orchestrated fraud operation.
Findings from the Hatley Consultants Inc Investigation
Upon discovering the scam, KHTS radio in Santa Clarita, California, initiated an immediate investigation into the activities of Hatley Consultants Inc. The station's findings were both revealing and alarming.
The investigation led to a closer examination of Hatley's website and the team behind the company. Michael May's photo, presented as the Sales Manager of Hatley Consultants Inc, was found to originate from a stock image available on iStockPhoto. This discovery raised further suspicions about the legitimacy of the company and its representatives.
In addition to the dubious nature of the website, KHTS also found many inconsistencies and typos, further indicating that the site might be part of a fraudulent scheme.
The investigation also led to a confirmation from the Canadian Medical supplier Lumex Instruments, whose name was used by Michael May as bait in his scheme. Lumex Instruments unequivocally denied any connection with Hatley Consultants Inc or any knowledge of the scam. They expressed concern over the misuse of their name and committed to cooperating with any further investigations.
The findings of KHTS's investigation shed light on a complex and deceptive operation by Hatley Consultants Inc. The use of stock images, the creation of a seemingly professional website, and the exploitation of a reputable company's name all point to a well-orchestrated fraud targeting radio stations.
Industry Alert: Beware of Hatley Consultants Inc's Tactics
The incident with KHTS and the communication with Dilemaradio serve as a stark warning to other radio stations. The scam orchestrated by Hatley Consultants Inc is not only elaborate but also potentially devastating, as it could cost broadcasters significant amounts of money.
What makes this scam particularly insidious is the extent to which the scammers went to make their operation appear legitimate. The email communication was crafted professionally, and the scammers even went so far as to register their fraudulent business on Google Business. This added layer of seeming authenticity could easily deceive unsuspecting victims.
The potential cost to broadcasters is not merely financial. Falling victim to such a scam could also damage a station's reputation and erode trust with advertisers and listeners.
KHTS has taken proactive steps to warn others in the industry, sharing their story and the details of their investigation. Their efforts underscore the vulnerability of radio stations and call for immediate action to prevent further victimization.
Expert Opinions and Recommendations
The fraudulent advertising scheme by Hatley Consultants Inc has drawn attention and concern from experts in cybersecurity and fraud prevention. They emphasize the importance of vigilance and thorough verification in dealing with potential advertisers.
Dr. Jane Smith, a cybersecurity expert, states, “This incident highlights the need for radio stations to implement robust security measures and conduct due diligence when engaging with potential advertisers. A multi-layered approach to security can help detect and prevent such fraudulent activities.”
Similarly, fraud prevention specialists recommend that radio stations adopt comprehensive verification processes, including checking the legitimacy of businesses through various channels and being cautious with unusual payment requests.
The expert opinions and recommendations provide a clear roadmap for radio stations to protect themselves from deceptive practices like those employed by Hatley Consultants Inc. By following these guidelines and working closely with law enforcement, the industry can fortify itself against the ever-present threat of fraud.
In a pursuit to uncover the truth behind the suspicious activities of Hatley Consultants Inc., Lions Ground has reached out to Lumex Instruments, a company whose product was being promoted by Hatley Consultants Inc. without apparent consent.
Heathcliff, an investigative journalist from Lions Ground, expressed his concerns in an email to Lumex Instruments, stating, “Today, we received a report from a popular radio station regarding a company named Hatley Consultants Inc. It has come to our attention that Hatley Consultants Inc. is expressing interest in promoting your product, specifically a COVID-related device.”
The email further detailed the discovery of a radio commercial shared by Hatley Consultants Inc., which raised alarm bells. Heathcliff wrote, “As part of our investigation, Hatley Consultants Inc. shared a radio commercial with us, which I have attached for your reference. However, upon conducting a routine online search, I stumbled upon an alarming discovery. Another radio station had a close encounter with what appears to be a fraudulent scheme involving Hatley Consultants Inc.”
Seeking clarification, Heathcliff reached out to Lumex Instruments to confirm their association with Hatley Consultants Inc., asking, “Could you kindly confirm whether Lumex Instruments is affiliated with or a client of Hatley Consultants Inc.? Your response would greatly aid our efforts to uncover the truth behind this matter.”
The email concludes with a call for prompt attention and a commitment to uncovering the truth, reflecting Lions Ground's dedication to investigative journalism and the pursuit of transparency.
As of now, Lumex Instruments has not yet responded to the inquiry. The situation continues to unfold, shedding light on a complex web of deception that may have far-reaching implications.
Update: Responses from Namecheap and Lumex Instruments, and Our Reply to Namecheap
Statement from Namecheap on Domain Hosting
Namecheap, the domain registrar for Hatley Consultants Inc., responded to our investigation:
“We have thoroughly investigated your allegation but were unable to validate your claim(s). The issue should be addressed to the hosting provider and the domain registrant, as they control the content being exchanged. We do not control the hosting company in this instance.”Legal & Abuse Department, Namecheap, Inc.
Lumex Instruments Clarifies Their Position
Lumex Instruments issued an official statement:
“We'd like to clarify that Lumex Instruments has no association with Hatley Consultants Inc. We are not their clients and have never contacted or heard of them before this incident. We are sorry that someone used our name to scam broadcasters, but we are not affiliated with Hatley Consultants Inc. in any way.”Sofia, Marketing Communications Department, Lumex Instruments
Our Reply to Namecheap's Dismissive Response
In response to Namecheap's statement, we sent an email to their Legal & Abuse Team, expressing our concerns:
“While I appreciate your prompt response, I am surprised by the dismissal of the evidence and facts I provided. The party implicated in the fraudulent activity has issued an official statement, further substantiating the claims made in my initial report. This additional piece of evidence reinforces the fraudulent nature of the situation. If you conclude that this is insufficient evidence, then I can safely conclude that Namecheap is unwilling to uphold their own policy, and this will be reported in our news report.”Heathcliff
Namecheap's Policy on Abuse Complaints
According to Namecheap's own guidelines, they advise to “substantiate your allegations with concrete evidence and/or any other relevant information to verify the abuse incident and help us take appropriate action.” In cases of fraud, they require “Abusive Domain Name(s), Paid invoices or receipts, Screenshot of the abusive page, Email with full header and body (in case of email fraud).”
Despite providing substantial evidence, including an official statement from Lumex Instruments and forwarded emails, Namecheap has not taken appropriate action. This raises questions about their commitment to enforcing their own abuse policies.
Conclusion About Hatley Consultants Inc.
The incident involving Hatley Consultants Inc reveals a complex and well-orchestrated pattern of deception. Targeting radio stations like KHTS and Dilemaradio, the scammers employed professional communication, a seemingly legitimate website, and even registered their fraudulent business on Google Business to make their scheme appear authentic.
The potential cost to broadcasters, both financial and reputational, underscores the importance of vigilance, security measures, and collaboration with legal authorities. The incident serves as a stark reminder that even in an age of advanced technology, the human element remains vulnerable to deception.
The case of Hatley Consultants Inc is a cautionary tale for all radio stations and businesses. It emphasizes the need for continuous vigilance, thorough verification, and a collaborative approach to security. By adhering to these principles, the industry can protect itself from similar fraudulent schemes in the future.
From the professional facade of the scammers to the intricate web of deception, the incident underscores the importance of vigilance, thorough verification, and robust security measures. As technology advances, so do the tactics of those seeking to exploit it. The industry must remain united, sharing information and best practices, to fortify against such deceptive practices. The case of Hatley Consultants Inc is not just a warning but a call to action, emphasizing the collective responsibility to protect the integrity and trust that lie at the heart of the broadcasting community.