Holy Guacamole: I Was a Victim of Jenny B.’s Pregnancy Mail Campaign Scam

It was a Friday night and I was heading into bed for the night when I grabbed a piece of mail off the counter, addressed to me, and took it to my room. There was no return address (AKA, no hints of what it could be), but the front was handwritten and had all of my proper contact info on the envelope. It felt a little heavy, and all self-absorbed people know what that could mean –a gift! What a pleasant way to end my night.

Within a few seconds of ripping open the flap, I quickly knew this was for sure no gift at all. HOLY GUACAMOLE! YOU’RE GOING TO AVO BABY! the front of the glossy purple card read, with a note inside penned in Sharpie, with the girliest of all girly handwriting congratulating me on my pregnancy, and was affectionately signed, Jenny B. Inside were half a dozen coupons and gift cards to different websites and companies selling all things maternity —from cribs and strollers to clothing and baby accessories.

Immediately, my heart sunk while a puzzled look came across my face, trying to pretend I didn’t feel like I just got the wind knocked out of me. For a second there, I was like….am I? Am I pregnant? I took a marketing class once where they said Target would realize you were pregnant by your purchasing behaviors long before you’d confirm it for yourself and share that news with family. No, no –I am surely not pregnant. I just swallowed a good ol’ fashioned birth control pill minutes before opening the card. Phew. OK so then, who’s pranking me? Who hand addressed an envelope to me and went through all this effort to insert some trauma into my quiet Friday night?

I threw the card in the trash, half-hoping that would just make this go away and I could go to bed. I quickly opened up a Google tab searching, “handwritten note pregnancy scam” and phrases similar. Within .2034814 seconds or however long it takes to return search results, a handful of articles popped up saying women across the U.S. have also come across “Jenny B.” this week. Some company in Salt Lake City, Utah has been sending these letters out to my age demographic in effort to…um…scare the shit out of them? I have no idea.

In the New York Times article I read, it said it’s actually not a scam so much as it is a marketing tactic. I mean, I am not buying that, but you can read what it said:

Why had these women received the mailings? “The qualified recipients for this mailer have, at one point, subscribed to an opt-in list for maternity deals and coupons through a third party marketing company,” Mr. Anderson said. “All information from third party companies is only used internally for Mothers Lounge and is not sold or used for anything else other than the direct marketing of Mothers Lounge.”

The initiative did not go over so well with some of the “qualified recipients.” Some women — the exact number who received the mailings is unknown — grew suspicious when they couldn’t find a return address. Additionally, many reported that when they tried calling the toll-free number on the cards, the line went unanswered.

And then there were the gifts themselves. “The gift card does ‘work’ but you still owe a small amount for shipping,” Ms. Gette, a musician in Nashville, said. “You would have to enter your credit card number for that.”

All I can really say is thank god for Google on this one, protecting me from a downward spiral and being able to connect the dots so quickly. All weekend long I read and heard more stories about this “scam” –yeah, I can’t help but think it’s a scam –and I can say with confidence that Jenny B. is on a lot of people’s sh*t lists right now. Talk about a marketing fail.

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