A warning for small business owners... and it comes in the form of a magazine ad.
U.S. Postal Inspector George Clark says, "The defendant told us they were just taking the money..."
Inspectors say the money was being taken for the promise of ad space in a crude version of a magazine. It reality it was a colored piece of paper stapled together with a few other pieces of paper.
Investigators say the victims were small business owners. The two reported conmen told the owners they were buying ad space in what they called a "public safety magazine".
"They would tell whoever answered the phone at the small business that they had already agreed to place an ad they were simply calling to confirm that the business was prepared to pay (for the ad). "
Sometimes, the magazine would be a pile of paper, but most of the time there was no magazine at all.
"In the early part of the operation they were publishing magazines but by the time we started our investigation we don't think any magazines were being published.
Postal Inspectors discovered both defendants had a history involving telemarketing. In this particular case they both admitted their guilt.
"These guys made about $1.5 million dollars in the last 5 years… but since these guys have been doing telemarketing schemes in way or another in their adult life I would say it's a safe bet they have made 5 million dollars in the last 15-20 years."
Small business owners need to remember: before you pay for an ad or a service make sure you're getting what you're paying for. Check out the business you're dealing with online. Before you pay, do your research. check the Internet.
"Get the name of their business - get the name of the publications - Google them; you'll be surprised how much you'll find."
In this case, one of the men was sentenced to two years in prison. The other received five years.