Today’s winner is Crystal Marie Clark. She gets the award for the following–
Consumer warning: Stop sending in those receipts for your free gas. You can pretty much forget about ever collecting even a dime from the company that made the offer.
Tidewater Marketing Global Consultants, a Largo-Clearwater based company, owes customers more than $10 million but has less than $300 in its bank accounts. It has no real property, no cars.
“It’s extremely unlikely that Tidewater would ever be able to redeem the certificates and issue cards,” said Charles Stutts, the state appointed receiver charged with investigating Tidewater’s operations. He released his initial report Friday.
The company has distributed hundreds of thousands of vouchers for free gas through retailers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Stutts’ conclusion: It was one grand sham.
Retailers bought gas vouchers from Tidewater in denominations as high as $500 and delivered them to consumers as incentives for purchases or even just to visit their stores and test drive cars.
Consumers were required to register their vouchers with a $5 payment and send $100 worth of gas receipts each month. In exchange, Tidewater promised a $25 gas card each month until the consumer reached the full value of the voucher.
Tidewater suggested to retailers and consumers that its gas voucher program was backed by oil companies, though the company’s owner, Crystal Clark, told the St. Petersburg Times that the oil companies were not involved.
Stutts found some 130,000 consumers registered with Tidewater, but the number could be much higher. He found boxes with thousands of pieces of unopened mail in Tidewater’s offices.
Consumers and businesses alike got taken by this con woman. She’s Tidewater’s President and listed with the State of Florida as its registered agent. Consumers lost just $5 and postage to her. Businesses who used the offers of free gas to bring in customers, could be facing larger problems. One class action suit is already in the works.
I was offered this promotion four months ago when I got new tires put on my car. My suspicions were raised back then for two reasons. One that I had to send $5 in, and secondly I don’t believe in free lunches. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Ms. Clark has serious problems, and not all of them are related to Tidewater. She’s facing drug trafficking charges also. For defrauding consumers and businesses alike, I name Crystal Marie Clark today’s Knucklehead of the Day.