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Fake high school sports sponsorship scam targets N.H. businesses

Monitor staff
Published: 5/17/2020 4:54:24 PM

When Carol Fleury received a phone call last fall about an opportunity for her family’s business to sponsor Concord High School’s basketball teams, she was eager to help.

Fleury, a Concord High alumna, took the call at ADF Flooring and spoke at length with a man named ‘Q’ about the different business sponsorship packages available for the upcoming boys and girls varsity basketball season. In a follow-up email, she received T-shirt mockups that included ADF Flooring’s advertisement and sample banners she could choose from to hang in the school’s gym.

Two months after selecting and paying for the $1,500 sponsorship package she realized it was all a scam – and, later, that ADF Flooring wasn’t the only victim.

“We were installing new floors in the main lobby of Concord High during the school’s Christmas vacation,” Fleury said in a recent interview. “My husband, who owns ADF Flooring, wanted to stop by and see how the installers were doing, and I said I was going to sneak over to the gym and check out our sponsorship banner. But, there was no banner when I got there. That’s when I knew we’d been scammed.”

She said she tried to contact the purported company, which identifies as “Sports Media” and other variations of the name, but her phone calls were repeatedly disconnected. She also reached out to the high school’s athletic department and learned administrators there had no knowledge of the sale and, further, that the district doesn’t generally do that kind of advertising with businesses.

“Once we realized this gentleman was working with a scam, we contacted the company and told them to cease and desist, and unfortunately by then it was too late,” said Concord School District Interim Superintendent Frank Bass. “We certainly feel bad for those involved.”

Unfortunately, law enforcement officials say the Concord case is not unique. The Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office received in the past two years complaints about similar scams targeting six school districts in the state, said Assistant Attorney General John Garrigan.

The complaints from Granite State businesses were filed against “Sports Media Advertising” and several other similar or related entities, all of which are located outside of New Hampshire.

“I can’t identify the other affected districts or schools at this time due to the ongoing investigations and to the statutory confidentiality granted to consumer complaints filed with my office,” Garrigan said.

The state investigation coincides with similar probes in other states, which have also received complaints against the sponsorship company.

Generally, these purported companies will contact local businesses by phone or email, claiming to be raising money on behalf of a local sports team, investigators said. However, in these cases, school districts never authorized a third-party company to solicit in its name.

“Our advice to the community is to always verify the legitimacy of any school sports fundraising solicitation from a third-party company with the school administration before sending any money,” Garrigan said. “Unfortunately, these scams take advantage of local businesses’ generosity in supporting local school sports.”

In recent weeks, Fleury received a call from another New Hampshire business who had fallen victim to the scam. She said the business owner wanted her to know that ADF Flooring’s advertisement was being used on a mock T-shirt design, and to get advice on how to recoup the financial losses.

Fleury said she had immediately contacted her credit card provider in December to report the scam. However, at the time, she didn’t think to file a complaint with law enforcement.

“I have since Googled the company and the Better Business Bureau has documented a ton of complaints that remain unresolved,” she said. “I know how hard it is for law enforcement to catch these guys, especially when they’re working outside the state.”

The Better Business Bureau has flagged the unaccredited “Sports Media” and “Sports Media Marketing” after a pattern of disputes. The company has been unresponsive to the complaints, which allege loses ranging from $100 to thousands of dollars.

The state Attorney General’s office encourages anyone who has encountered suspicious solicitations to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau at or by calling the hotline at 1-888-468-4454.

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