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Southern Alberta business owner victim of marketing scam

After losing $1,000 to fraudsters, Diamond Valley Autopro owner Jordan Jaworenko is warning people to be wary of potential scams.
Diamond Valley Autopro owner Jordan Jaworenko.

A Diamond Valley business owner is cautioning the public about scams after falling victim to one.

Jordan Jaworenko, owner of Diamond Valley Autopro, said a fraudulent company contacted his team in 2023 about putting their company logo on a Country Food Mart grocery bag.

Service advisor Stewart Hamilton shared more details about the scam.

"The gentleman phoned me, basically soliciting for sales, obviously," said Hamilton. "He was saying that the Country Food Mart was on board and it was a branch off of their bags ... I knew there was the sponsorship on these bags available and whatnot, so we went ahead with it."

The company in question, Hermit Group, calls itself a "full-service sustainable marketing agency" on its Facebook page, which has been inactive for several months.

"He was going to do a logo with his design team," said Hamilton. "Never really saw anything out of him. We sent pictures of what we wanted our logo to be, and he just kept saying that things have been delayed a little bit."

After receiving a payment of $1,000 from Diamond Valley Autopro for the agreed-upon marketing work, Hermit Group went quiet.

"Every time I followed up with them he'd answer or within 15, 20 minutes he called me back," said Hamilton. "So, then I followed up with him and the number's been disconnected. Both his business and the two numbers on the email that I always got a hold of them on.

"I sent him an email, but I've yet to hear anything back. It didn't bounce back to me, but I haven't heard anything, and the website is under construction, which is something strange because it never was under construction prior to, I'd say, February."

The only review available for Hermit Group online is by Facebook user Mike Pearce, who is listed on LinkedIn as being an employee of the company. 

Hermit Group could not be reached for comment.

"I had called the phone number. It's disconnected. I had tried emailing through the website and other social media and it's inactive," said Jaworenko. "So in the last month is when, who knows what happened, but you can't contact them anymore."

Jaworenko said he should have been more cautious.

"I didn't see anything online under their name about potential scams or whatever," he said. "I was kind of just maybe naive, and being a new business owner and taking people at their word, hoping to get my name out there in the community through this program that he so adamantly said that was legit.

"I had no reason not to believe him. You know, this money is not going to ruin my business, but it definitely is going to make me smarter in the future too. Do some follow ups before I just hand out money."

With scams popping up regularly in the area, Jaworenko wants everybody to be careful.

"Research into these companies," cautioned Jaworenko. "A lot more conversation needs to be had. We should have pursued it further with [the grocery store] to see if that's the company that they were using or if this was even legit, but nothing felt wonky.

"Do your research. It's the biggest thing and we obviously did not do enough."

Amir Said

About the Author: Amir Said

Amir Said is a reporter and photographer with the Western Wheel covering local news in Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips, reach out to [email protected].
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