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Sonar Media Labs - A Weird, Complicated Scam


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Story/discussion time!

A few days ago I went to my local Salvation Army to browse what they had.  At the end of an end-cap, there was a boxed, unopened "media center" set.  The box said it was an SR-40 media center from Sonar Media Labs.  The picture had a TV, a base sound bar which looked like it was made to be bulky enough to stand a TV on and two small speakers.  The packaging made it look like a TV was in it, and it was heavy, but the contents on the side of the box simply stated that it was a pair of tweeters and bass/sound bar.  There was no price tag on it, but since I always look for cheap sound equipment and my local Salvation Army prices to move stuff, I decided to take a photo of the thing, look it up at home (I only have a dumb phone, btw) and then try to figure out if it was worth buying.  Oh, the SA hadn't put a price on it and since I was already assuming it'd likely be more than I wanted to pay ($50 or more) I wasn't really looking to "claim it" without doing research.

Well, well, well.  You can't find much on these other than a ton of listing for this thing in the $500-600 price range but upon further digging, it sounds like this is a scam company, making truly trash equipment and some how this is a unit that's often used in what's called a "White Van Scam".  My guess is someone got tricked into buying this locally, probably at the $500 price range, and once they looked it up, they just donated it to the Salvation Army because this stuff is supposedly "cheap trash", and the hustlers always try to say it has a TV when, in fact, it doesn't.

Oh well, no loss.  I figured I'd post what I did find which is, interesting enough, a web site for "Sonar Media Labs"!  Check it out --> https://www.sonarmedialabs.com/

The crazy thing is this scam hardware has been around and been hawked for years.  But, if you start poking around the web page, you'll notice that its appears to be totally fake! 

What happens if you click on their "Order Now!" button?  404ed!

What happens if you click on the "View Locations" button?  You're presented with three "seems legit" locations (New York, LA and London) but if you give the addresses and phone numbers a second-glance, they are all fake!

The odd thing is that these speakers/systems are legit products.  Well, they are legit in the sense that the packaging may make you feel like you're getting a TV, am and a few speakers but it's on honest on the side of the box that it's just three speakers.  They also do work just... not at the $400 price point.  Why I find this whole thing interesting is that for a scam of this nature, somebody (or people) went through a looooot of work to source, build, package and distribute a 100% scam product.  I mean, this is up there with the trash that comes out of China, but this is really meant to look legit and apparently they've got their legal ducks in such a good row, that they've been pushing this junk since at least 2018, with a modest web presence and no one has shut them down?!  Also, assuming you were a budding scam artist, how would you get hooked up with these guys to get this trash whole sale so you could drive around, setup your white van and sell some $30 speakers, you probably got for $75-100 so you could scam to some one for $400-500 because MSRP on their website is an insane $2,000.

I have so many questions.  Had a "guy with a van" approached me, I would have known right away this was illegit.  I only paid attention because this unit ended up at the Salvation Army.  I just want to know how does this happen today, and stick around?!  How do they network to distribute this stuff?!  If I could get the unit for $25, I'd probably buy it because this is like famiclone stuff to me!  I probably wouldn't even own it but I'd marvel at the criminal craftsman's ship and I'd be willing to buy it because I'd know my money was going to the SA, rather than some criminal who, unfortunately, had already been paid off. 

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