Local News

Detectives Press Probe of Magazine-Sales Scam

Posted August 14, 2007 11:49 p.m. EDT
Updated August 15, 2007 11:11 a.m. EDT

— All but one of the people arrested in a suspected magazine-sales scheme were out of jail Tuesday night, but the case against the seven appeared to be growing.

Only Christopher McKim, 21, whose address police had not been able to learn, remained behind bars in the Wake County Jail. The other six were bonded out by a man who told the bondsman he was a manager of the company for which the seven said they worked.

Durham and Morrisville police started getting calls from residents in their towns following publicity about Raleigh police arresting the group Friday on charges they were selling phony magazine subscriptions.

“The stories I heard were (that) they pretended to be with the North Carolina State baseball team or club, and they were trying to raise money for a trip,” Morrisville Detective Sgt. Mike Ballard said Tuesday. “And they said they’d be kind enough to donate half the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House or the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.”

The story was bogus, investigators said. Ballard said he had received six or seven calls from people who saw coverage of the story on the news and reported similar experiences.

Monday, Morrisville police filed additional charges against Thomas Fuller, 22, of Phoenix, and McKim.

The group claimed to sell magazine subscriptions for Quality Subscriptions, Inc., in Buford, Ga., but local investigators said they do not think any of the sales were legitimate.

The bondsman who did the paperwork for the release of the six said the person who hired him brought pay stubs to verify their employment.

The details in this door-to-door sales operation are similar to a common scheme.

“It’s a very old ploy to use kids and send them out on the streets,” said Beverly Baskin of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina.

“Frequently, these kids are jammed together and forced to live in a van or an inexpensive hotel with eight to 10 people per room,” Baskin added.

The state Attorney General's Office also has had trouble with magazine sellers.

In May, the office banned Charlotte-based Trinity Public Relations from doing business in North Carolina after dozens of consumer complaints. In this case, investigators want to know if this is bigger than the seven suspects.

The people listed for Quality Subscriptions, Inc. are tied to at least four other business names, according to records in the Georgia secretary of state’s office and telephone directory information. Cross-checking the adddress for Quality Subscriptions shows there is a company called United Family Circulation Inc. with the same officers as Quality Subscrptions and the same office address.

Calls to the company were not returned Tuesday, however.