ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) – A company offering $500 gift cards caused a mob scene in north St. Louis Tuesday morning resulting in fights and at least one vehicle being set on fire.
Howard Walker, who works at St. Louis Powerhouse Church, said he was hired by AMP LLC Contracting to give out applications for a debit card with a vague promise of receiving a $500 dollar food voucher at some point in the future.
In actuality, people were getting applications to register for a debit card account with large fees. In order for the applicant to open that account, they had to add $500 of their own money on the card.
It turned out all the application got people was an email offer for a debit card that charges $1 to $5 a month.
Hundreds of people showed up in hopes of getting a $500 card, but were disappointed when they found out how the program worked. They were told to leave after a three hour wait.
“They said they were supposed to put $500 on our food stamp cards,” one woman said. “So we’d been up here since 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m.”
According to reports, several fights broke out and at least one car was set on fire. It is not known if anyone was injured.
Police had to be called in to control the crowd and direct traffic. They shut down the operation for lack of a permit and sealed off the church.
Many people left feeling like they’d been scammed.
“They just said they were going to give everyone $500 dollars,” another woman said.
The local rep for AMP LLC said contracting in Alabama could sort things out.
News 4 called one possible number for the company, but it was a fax machine. Another number went to a voicemail for a guy named Dave. A message left by News 4 was not returned.
A check of public records listed with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office shows a company called Advanced Marketing and Promotions LLC.
One person tied to the company is Tracy Gordon Cooper. According to Cooper’s Facebook page, the company has four divisions: roofing contracting, lighting, medical and marketing.
The difference in divisions gives the company an appearance it is involved in a variety of activities that might not be associated with each other.
But how they they might be involved in the gift card fiasco in St. Louis on Tuesday remains unclear.
A similar event scheduled by the company for Wednesday has been canceled.
News 4 has covered several similar operations over the past years. Check out some of our past stories on the KMOV.com Investigates section.