AUSTIN -- A KVUE Defenders investigation gets results for consumers across the country.
This week the KVUE Defenders took a hard look at an online company called Bewoop.com, which is based in Austin.
The website promises to pay consumers for used cell phones and other electronics if they meet certain guidelines. The KVUE Defenders uncovered dozens of consumer complaints across the county, claiming they mailed in their devices to the site, but got nothing in return.
Over the summer Thomas Stewart thought his used Samsung smart phone was past its prime, and he wanted an upgrade. To earn some extra money, he got online and searched the words "selling your cell phone."
“The web gives you a whole bunch of things, and I just went through each one,” the Victoria resident explained while showing the Defenders on a laptop.
Stewart stumbled upon Bewoop.com with a large banner that read "Get Cash for your Electronics" on the front page. Bewoop.com says it allows consumers to buy or sell items like used cell phones, iPads and laptops.
When Stewart plugged in his phone's make and model, Bewoop promised him $16 dollars if he mailed it in. Nearly five months later Stewart hasn't gotten his check.
“Here we are, nothing. Absolutely nothing," he said.
Stewart isn't the only Bewoop customer with problems. A KVUE Defenders investigation found dozens of customers with complaints from coast to coast.
Bewoop claimed it would pay Mike Bandiera in Burbank, California about $60 after mailing in his used Blackberry.
"There's just no response. My phone just disappeared into the ether somewhere, and I couldn't tell if these people were real," Bandiera told the Defenders via Skype.
In Washington, D.C. Josh Oleszczuk said he purchased a used cell phone from Bewoop, only to find out it was reported stolen.
"The price I was paying for the phone was extremely discounted from what a new phone would cost, but you always assume when you're reselling something, that they've purchased someone on the up and up as well," Oleszczuk told ABC affiliate WJLA in an interview.
All three complained to the Better Business Bureau because Bewoop claimed to be BBB accredited on its website.
Austin BBB spokeswoman Erin Dufner says that’s not the case.
"The company is certainly not BBB accredited, and that is certainly misleading for consumers because it is part of a BBB trademark infringement," she said.
So far 37 consumers in Texas and across the country have complained to Austin's BBB about Bewoop.com in the past 12 months.
"The majority of those have not been responded to the company, which is really BBB's biggest concern," said Dufner.
The Defenders decided to test Bewoop. We got an iPhone and a Blackberry cell phone. Both were used, but in good condition.
Bewoop promised to send us about $60 dollars for the iPhone, and more than $20 dollars for the Blackberry in about two weeks, once the company received them in the mail.
We followed the instructions and carefully wrapped each phone.
A few weeks later, we received one Moneygram worth $60 for the iPhone - nothing for the Blackberry has arrived yet.
Finding Bewoop's owner wasn't easy. There's no phone number listed on the website, and the company isn't registered with the state of Texas.
So our team e-mailed Bewoop, seeking answers. We even hired a private investigator.
Eventually we found an address to a North Austin apartment registered to the P.O. Box listed on the site. No one answered the door when we knocked, but before we left the driveway a man named Dan Jackson called and claimed to be the owner of Bewoop.
While he refused to talk to us on camera, he admits he's made some bad decisions.
In an e-mail he wrote to the Defenders, he stated: "I simply got behind on personal payments and made some poor decisions with how orders were handled and neglected to take care of the customers. Effective immediately, I have indefinitely ceased accepting orders for trade-ins. I promise that every customer who has mailed an order in to Bewoop will be receiving their full payment."
Jackson later explained that Oleszczuk received a full refund for the stolen cell phone. E-mails between the company and Oleszczuk also show Bewoop offered him a different phone that wasn’t stolen and at a significant discount.
Jackson claimed it was difficult for companies to identify stolen cell phones at the time Oleszczuk purchased his phone.
Since Jackson’s e-mail, the KVUE Defenders has confirmed that customers can no longer try to sell electronics on the website, and the BBB accreditation is gone.
For Stewart, it was never about the money. "Yea, it's only $16. But it's just the fact that, ‘Hey, if you were not going to pay me, can I have my property back?’ I could use it for something else. I could even donate it [or] something."
Austin Postal Inspector Mike Sullivan says he’s concerned with what our investigation uncovered. He plans to review the case and contact Jackson soon.