It's such a familiar scenario, you suspect there's some sort of script. Some fresh-faced young man, or else an adult whose face is a bit too weathered for their years, knocks on the door. They're a troubled youth in a crime-ridden urban area, a single parent trying to make ends meet, just a guy trying to get his life back on track, and will be able to do so if you, with your middle-class home in your middle-class neighborhood, paid for by your middle-class job, will simply buy a magazine subscription.
In fact, you pretty much know there's a script. You just wonder who wrote it. The federal government now has an answer: 32-year-old Larhon Buchanan.
Buchanan appeared in a Pennsylvania courtroom on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to co-running a Dallas-based company, Destiny Sales, Inc., as well as a handful of other firms that were part of a $2 million magazine-subscription-sales scam.
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The scheme worked about like you'd expect: Buchanan and her alleged partner, 44-year-old Samuel Cole, would recruit a group of young men and women in western Pennsylvania and send them through neighborhoods with false credentials from the National Field Selling Association and Better Business Bureau. The salespeople would tell customers that a sizable portion of proceeds from their subscriptions -- which, according to posts on Ripoff Report, were quite steep -- would go to well-respected nonprofits, including military charities, children's hospitals, and youth organizations.
The magazines never showed up, but by the time the customer realized this (their receipt clearly told them to "allow 90-120 days for delivery"), Buchanan and her band of salespeople were long gone, having established a new LLC and moved to a new city. First, their operation was based in Pennsylvania, where she and Cole are from. Then, they moved it to Seattle, then Dallas.
It was a good living, at least while it lasted. By the time the law caught up with Buchanan in November 2012, the operation had claimed as many as 21,000 victims and raked in around $2 million.
Just something to keep in mind the next time guilt makes you reach for your checkbook to buy something from the kid at your front door.