The Columbia Police Department recently warned citizens via Facebook to avoid a potential scam from a biohazard cleanup company’s website.
Bio Advocate Pro claims to be a cleaning company on 8080 State St. in East St. Louis, according to an alert published on the Better Business Bureau’s website Wednesday.
However, there is no such thing as Bio Advocate Pro at that location, and a search for "Bio Advocate Pro" on Google or Bing Maps turns up no results.
“Bio Advocate Pro is probably a fraudulent business out of East St Louis scamming money from people for Drug Screens and Background checks, for fake offers of employment,” CPD spokesman Sergeant Joe Bernhard wrote on the CPD Facebook page.
Bio Advocate Pro is scamming users into paying $89 for a background check, according to the Better Business Bureau's report. A potential victim would put the money on a prepaid Green Dot MoneyPak card and the thieves would then take the money off the card and stop further communication. Victims would be left wondering what had happened.
A victim from Florissant, Mo., said in the report that she could not afford to lose that much money, as she has five children to feed. Other victims said the claims sounded too good to be true and felt as though they should have known better.
One Overland, Mo., man’s job counselor prevented him from being a victim of the scam after she discovered similar scams online.
There were links to a legitimate company in Indiana on the Bio Advocate Pro website, but, according to the report, the Indiana company had no idea that they were listed and had never heard of Bio Advocate Pro.
The Bio Advocate Pro website was blank except for a three-paragraph excerpt under the Services tab on Wednesday. A previous version of the website can be found in the Better Business Bureau's report.
A phone number listed on the previous version of the website did not return the Better Business Bureau's phone calls. According to a service review on the Better Business Bureau's website, attempts to contact Bio Advocate Pro by mail were returned by the post office.
The Better Business Bureau is unable to put together a complete report on Bio Advocate Pro because it is still missing information, according to the service report, and they encourage people with any information on the company to contact a service advisor.
CPD encouraged anyone who thinks he or she might have been a victim of this scam to contact local law enforcement.