BBB warns of company promising cash to pay bills

MILWAUKEE -- The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin issued a warning on Wednesday, November 14th about a company that set up offices on Milwaukee's north side. That company promises cash to pay people's utility bills.

It's called the "Bill Assistance Membership Program," and includes the associated Its postings on Craigslist offered up free money -- promises of cash to pay the mortgage, rent or an energy bill. 

FOX6 News and Contact 6 have received several complaints about the company which indicates it is affiliated with the Obama administration. The company says it's giving federal grants or free money so long as the customers pay a $20 fee and give personal information.

It's estimated hundreds have applied hoping to get the maximum amount of cash -- which is $1,500. 

The client base is reportedly spreading through word of mouth, social media and speakers in church groups. Those targeted primarily live in inner city neighborhoods.

FOX6 News has learned of no one who's received any cash. 

Paulla Wright told FOX6 News she went to an office in a building on 4th near Hadley, and was then told to go to another on 2nd and Wells to pay for membership. Wright said she believed this involved funding from the Obama administration.

"A lot of people that couldn't afford to be taken advantage of, and that really couldn't afford to be taking a loss," Wright said.

Ran Hoth with the BBB says the BBB has been investigating this scam since October 30th, and over 100 people have contacted the BBB in Wisconsin regarding the scam.

"This is a very active scam and it's quite concerning. Promising a payment for past bills or otherwise is flat out criminal," Roth said.

The BBB has received more than 70 calls about the bogus. They ask anyone with proof of the scam -- like a bill or paperwork from the bill pay company to visit Milwaukee Police District 5 -- and report it.

FOX6 News attempted to contact the business by phone and was directed to its internet address, 

Meanwhile, those who tried to visit the northside offices now report they are vacant.