American Choice Publications is their newest name!
Pavlos Angelatos (World Wide Source, Ameri-source, American Solutions Information) has just incorporated a new company! American Choice Publications is the name it goes by. This report is written so you will be equipped to fight when you see this company or any variation attempt to defraud you out of your hard-earned money!
Rule #1: NEVER NEVER Pay Pavlos Anything!
Certain scam operations seem to keep turning up again and again. The names may change (see Appendix D) but the actual methods are clearly recognizable whenever they appear. The directory listing scam seems to have reached epidemic proportions, as evidenced by the number of names under which they operate. Actually the proliferation of these companies may represent the efforts of a handfull of people who avoid prosecution by hiding behind these multiple identities to frustrate the efforts of those who would attempt to shut them down.
Rule#2: They DO NOT Go Away, Just Because You Pay!
When our small business was receiving calls from World Wide Source, who originally bilked us by claiming that they were representing the 800 Number Yellow Pages and actually charged us $399.95 for one miniscule listing in their American Business Index we were understandably upset. To add insult to injury, we began to receive regular calls from them (or a clone of them) demanding more money and inferring that we had obligated ourselves to a multi-year relationship. It was always asserted that we owed them a balance of $399.95! It was after one particularly bad experience with these people that we decided if these directory people are doing this to everybody, there should be some accounts of it on the internet. That is how I discovered this wonderful resource, the Rip Off Report.
Rule #3: They are in Clear Violation of the Law!
But my further research showed that the Vermont Attorney General had succesfully settled a fraud case with them (see Appendix A) and that Missouri was in the process of bringing them to trial (see Appendix B). It was also soon apparent that these offshore telemarketing operations were in clear violation of the law (see Appendix C).
Rule #4: You Need to Report Them! THEN You Can Ignore Them
The Rip Off Report documented many cases of how these scammers worked. Unfortunately the multiple names of the scamming entities defied even the fine job of cross-referencing that was done by Rip Off Reports staff. That is why I have attempted to connect the dots when it comes to these companies. They have harassed a lot of decent people in small business and non-profit organizations, people who do not have time for this kind of garbage.
So I have decided to take the time, in the interest of keeping the greedy hands of these scam artists out of the pockets of all of us who have to be responsible with our money!
Anyone who receives an invoice, a collection call etc.. from them needs to do the following:
Get the names of anyone that calls you
Write down the times of the day that they call, how many times etc. so that you can establish their pattern
Go the the Better Business Bureau of New York web site and pull the report on all of the named compaines they go by, you will be most interested to read what they all say
Go to the Canadian site: strategis.gc.ca and pull the reports on them here too
Do Not pay them a dime and tell them you are not going to pay
Send them written notice to CEASE TO DISIST in harrassing and trying to EXTORT money
Call and file a complaint with the BBB of New York, Vermont, and the state you reside in
Call the RCMP-PhoneBusters 888-495-8501 and file a report with them. They are the task force in the Ontairo Police dept. and they do take it very seriously
Call the Federal Trade Commission and file a report with them too.
Call your local police department and file a report there as well
Keep On all of these agencies till they get tired of hearring these company names and then they to will do what Vermont did and run them out of town!!
And do not let them scare you into thinking they will have an attorney come after you! If they do, you tell them that you will be happy to stand in front of judge and jury with them, as the State Attorney General of Vermont has already proven in a court of law that what they are doing is against the law and you have that alone to back you up!!
Usually this type of scam company will not spend the dollars on an attorney to collect the 399.95 that they are trying to scam to begin with, it would cost them to much!!
Hope this information helps any other business owners out there.
STATE OF VERMONT
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
109 STATE STREET
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General
March 21, 2002 (802) 828-2153
ATTORNEY GENERAL SETTLES CONSUMER FRAUD CLAIMS AGAINST CANADIAN TELEMARKETERS
Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office has settled consumer fraud claims against two Montreal-based telemarketers that sell listings in business-to-business directories. W.W.S. World Wide Source Publishing, Inc. ("WWS") and Ameri-Source Publications, Inc. ("Ameri-Source") will together pay a total of $125,000 to the State of Vermont and provide refunds to all of their Vermont customers.
In a lawsuit filed in Chittenden Superior Court in November 2001, the Attorney General alleged that WWS and five of its chief officers had systematically violated the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act in the course of selling listings in a directory called the "American Business Index." According to the Attorney Generals complaint, WWS, using a Vermont return address, solicited orders for two-year listings in its directory for $399.95, by means of outbound telemarketing calls to businesses throughout the United States. Over 100 of those customers complained to the State of Vermont.
The court complaint alleged that WWS violated the Consumer Fraud Act by:
* Misrepresenting that the company offers renewals of listings in the local Yellow Pages, when in fact it offers pri- marily new listings in a non-local directory of limited circulation.
* Overstating the circulation of the directory as 1 million, when in fact it is closer to 35,000.
* Misrepresenting WWS location by using local Vermont addresses in Alburg and Williston in all dealings with cus- tomers.
* Billing many customers without their authorization.
* Failing to provide customers with their legally-required three-day right to cancel.
* Overcharging customers for a directory that is of limited value to most businesses.
Ameri-Source, a company which shares common management and ownership with WWS and uses a return address in New York State, also telemarkets listings in a business-to-business directory.
The Attorney Generals settlement is contained in a Consent Decree approved this week by the Chittenden Superior Court. Although they have denied any wrongdoing, under the Consent Decree WWS, Ameri-Source and their President, Pavlos Angelatos, are barred from doing business in or into Vermont, or using a business address or facilities in the state. Also, by April 1, 2002, WWS and Ameri-Source must send refunds to all of its customers in Vermont; or, where payment records are unavailable, Vermont businesses listed in a directory must be sent a letter offering a refund upon proof of payment. Finally, the Consent Decree requires WWS to pay the State $79,000 ($59,000 in penalties and $20,000 in fees and costs), and Ameri-Source to pay the State $46,000 ($36,000 in penalties and $10,000 in fees and costs)for a total of $125,000.
In addition, out-of-state customers of WWS will have until September 30, 2002, to send a written complaint to the Attorney Generals Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) at Morrill Hall, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405, and receive a refund.
Commenting on the settlement, Attorney General Sorrell noted that his office will continue to take tough action against fraudulent telemarketersincluding out-of-state and out-of-country companies that pose as Vermont companies by using a local mailing address. "Companies like this undermine Vermonts good name. We are taking a hard line against fraudulent telemarketing, especially where it hurts Vermont residents or threatens to tarnish the Vermont business communitys reputation for honesty."
For further information on the settlement, businesses can contact the Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424 or 656-3183 (in Chittenden County)
In the brief of the Missouri case pending against Pavlos Angelatos and WWS some interesting 'techniques' for circumventing receptionists and gaining 'approval' are detailed. So when the former employee states that "we had approval," realize that it was skillfully coerced. The Missouri report brief states:
"WWS, through its agents, represent to their prospective customers that the directory listing being offered is in the prospective customers local telephone company
Yellow Pages. WWS agents begin their sale to prospective customers with, (Sir/Maam), this is _________your Account Representative from World Wide Source, calling regarding your listing for the business-to-business Yellow Pages, The American Business Index... By promoting the directory as the Yellow Pages consumers are left thinking this is a solicitation for their local Yellow Pages.
14. This representation of WWS directory as the Yellow Pages is reinforced by Defendants telemarketing training materials:
a. Simply refer to our product/service as a National Yellow Page Listing. Everyone knows what that entails and you are less likely to be needlessly interrogated.
b. The simplest way to [get past the receptionist] is to simply say: Who handles you Yellow Page listings?
15. Defendants telemarketer training materials encourage efforts to avoid answering questions about the American Business Index: When asked [what directory this is, or to describe the product], simply REPEAT the directorys name, and continue instantly with your Presentation.
16. Defendants, through their agents, also represent to their prospective customers that WWS offers a renewal of a previous listing, thus contributing to the confusion with the local Yellow Pages mentioned above.
17. This implication that the customer is being asked to renew its listing is conveyed by Defendants telemarketing script, which contains the following series of representations that state or imply that the business already has a listing which it is simply being asked to renew or update:
a. that the caller simply need[s] to verify that the business listing is correct for the new edition.
b. that the customer will receive a Revision Form for this term, suggesting a revision of some earlier listing.
c. that with a listing, the customer has been brought up to date for the new edition, again suggesting a revision of an earlier listing;
d. that this is this years order, as opposed to last years order.
18. Defendants, through their agents, use a rebuttal script that reinforces the representation that the company sells renewals of existing directory listings, and that avoids responding to questions about renewal, as follows:
a. I just need a minute of your time to update your listing.
b. [T]his is a Courtesy Call to confirm that your listing is accurate for the new
c. Right now were only updating your listing...
d. [Question:] Did we received [sic] it?/Have I done this before? [Answer:] Im in the subscription department...we have you currently listed in our database
and we have you scheduled for the next 2 years. Im just calling to confirm that we still have you listed correctly...
19. Defendants telemarketer training materials further underscore the representation that customers commonly renew their listings:
a. Renewing Clients should want the product again...
b. Many clients may very well have not been listed before.
c. If a customer has purchased before...
d. Clients who have bought and paid for previous services.
20. Defendants telemarketer training materials encourage efforts to avoid answering
questions about the renewal aspect of the listings offered by the company: If a Client asks if they have paid for the product before, the Agent must indicate that: for security reasons we never keep financial details on file...
21. WWS began marketing its two-year directory listings only in October 2000, therefore it is unlikely that any customers contacted in 2000, 2001, or early 2002 could have renewed an existing listing.
22. Defendants, through their agents, further represent to their prospective customers that the circulation of the American Business Index is over 1 million. This is reflected in WWS rebuttal script as follows: [Question:] What is the circulation of this directory? [Answer:] We publish over 1 million listings per year.
23. WWS is deceptive in its answer by stating how many listings they publish, rather than how many copies of the book are actually sold.
24. In fact, the circulation of the American Business Index is actually about 35,000.
25. On information and belief, Defendants, through their agents, have billed many of their customers$399.95 for listings in the American Business Index without obtaining
authorization from them.
26. As of July 12, 2002, the State of Missouri had received 18 complaints directed at WWS."
Appendix C State Laws Violated
Has anyone considered the need to report these directory scammers for mail fraud. Get the form at your local post office. The billing practices of these companies clearly constitute mail fraud.
Contact your state Attorney General. Vermont shut down Pavlos Angelatos and Ameri-source and Missourri is about to drop the hammer on them.
Mister or Ms. Telemarketer, sitting in their boiler room bunker in Montreal or Dartmouth, is either woefully ignorant of state laws--or hopes you are! Most states have "right to cancel" laws. If you are a telemarketer you are required by law to notify your contact of them in such transactions. Usually it is a 72 hour period or something similar. It goes without saying that the telemarketer would also have to clearly identify themselves and provide clear contact information to create an enforceable transaction.
Your state probably also has laws on the books similar to this Virginia statute:
59.1-200. Prohibited practices.
A. The following fraudulent acts or practices committed by a supplier in connection with a consumer transaction are hereby declared unlawful:
1. Misrepresenting goods or services as those of another; (eg: The "Real Yellow Pages")
2. Misrepresenting the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services;
3. Misrepresenting the affiliation, connection or association of the supplier, or of the goods or services, with another;
4. Misrepresenting geographic origin in connection with goods or services;
5. Misrepresenting that goods or services have certain quantities, characteristics, ingredients, uses, or benefits; (saying you distribute over a million books when your circulation is closer to 35000).
With a little knowledge you should be able to help stop this kind of operation in your area. Their only strength is in their telephone operation. They also have no respect for anti-harassment laws. Just keep hanging up on them. You can be nice about it since you possess the moral and legal high ground. They seem to take sadistic enjoyment out of reducing professional people to rage and verbal conflict with them on the telephone. Kill them with kindness.
Appendix D The Aquinet List of Directory Scams
The following is a list of the companies that run the same scam. These are companies who have actually called me to tell me that to complete my order they need my permission to send the last directory or some story similar to that. I believe that some of these companies are related and have sprung from the same mothership" - Youll see when you look at their names.
E Com Business Directory ---- Philadelphia, PA
IBD (International Business Directory) This was the original scam that got us.
IT Data Direct
Info Com (I was told that they bought out World Data Publishers)----
Info Com Direct (publishing the Wilson and Goldberg Goldbook)
Informatica - NYC
MDSC P ublishing (American Corporate Directory)
Mayrand (American Business Guide) ---- Champlain, NY
World Data Publishers
Ameri-Globe Publishing, Miami, Fl
InfoCom, Florence, Ky, 41042
MDSC Publishing, Canada.
MNC Publications, Champlain, NY, 12919
National Business Info
Newline Publishing, Port Huron, MI 48060
Pin Point Publishing, Canada
Quality Submit, Charlestown, MA, 02129
UTP Digital Directories
World Data Publishing
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on American Solution Information aka Ameri-Source Publications STOP! ..before you think about using the Better Business Bureau (BBB)... CLICK HERE to see how other consumers were victimized by the BBB's false or misleading information. Don't be fooled! It has been reported, when there are thousands of complaints and other investigations underway by authorities, the BBB has no choice but to finally give an UNsatisfactory rating to a BBB member business that is paying the BBB big membership fees every year. When a business is reported that is NOT a BBB member, BBB files WILL more likely show an UNsatisfactory rating, then reportedly shake down that company to become a member of the BBB. One positive thing about the BBB is, either way, if a business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB, you can be sure, the business is bad. But what about all those BBB member businesses that had complaints filed against them? Consumers never get to hear about them. What about the BBB advertising to the public? Is this a false and misleading perception they are giving about consumer confidence when dealing with a business? Click here to understand more of what consumers and business alike are saying about the BBB. You decide. ..Remember. The BBB membership is not earned, its paid for!