• Report: #88667

Complaint Review: INFOTEL

  • Submitted: Fri, April 23, 2004
  • Updated: Tue, May 11, 2004

  • Reported By:Staunton Virginia
5250 Decarie Blvd, Ste: 150 Montreal, Quebec Canada

Infotel Another Rip Off in the Same Spirit as World Wide Source, Ameri-source, American Solutions Information and IT Data Direct Montreal Quebec

*Author of original report: Scamfighter's Textbook:

*Author of original report: INFOTEL Attempts to Silence Cyberspace Critics, Bogus Barrister or Legitimate Lacky

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Add to the list of fraudulent business directories this bunch who practice the same scam we've already seen from World Wide Source and Pavlos Angelatos. Meet the Frank Family and you will see that this scam is practiced by people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Getting rid of them involves the same strategy you would use with World Wide Source -- usually getting the Attorney General involved. Read this description of the scam as posted by a "former employee" in the comments section of "damnum absque injuria"

Infotel used the threat of legal action in an attempt to silence victims of this scam who contributed to a California blog site. This graphic (courtesy of the Bear Flag League) shows what Californians think of Infotel and its tactics.


Hey I worked there in Sales; this is [how the scams work]

Categorized as a Legal Counterfeit Company because the products are real it is still a Telemarketing Scam because of the way the products are sold and there is no way of knowing how many are distributed.

Infotel/CBSI Products: (as seen at www.mediacorp.com )


These are National Business to Business Directories. Because they are National (ex. all the U.S. in one book) they are ... worthless. Nevertheless, they are what they are and are sold as that and no more.

The only illegal premise is the falsifying of the fact that the company was previously listed. This is fraud and the BBB knows it.

The *Paper Rolls are for Credit Card machines etc. This nickel & dime Scam starts with the sales pitch You are running out of paper etc. The paper is sold by weight. Again the products do exist. This time around the small fry is caught thinking it's his supplier calling. Nothing illegal here, just gullible employees.

Part 1 (Directories)

The Scam starts with the Sales Pitch directed at the unknowing small fry at a company: "Would you like to continue your listing in the 2xxx Directory of American Business, it's the National Business to Business Directory, Yellow and White pages."

The Yellow and White pages draw them in. It's a Phone Book to the small fry. They were previously listed? (This is the Scam, they were not)

The Scam continues with a Shipping Department call: "This is so and so from the Shipping Department of Infotel Publications", I am calling to confirm the details..." The Scam here is to get the small fry to admit he/she is authorized to make the purchase. This call is taped.

If yes, the Scam is set in motion. If no, then it is returned to the sales where it may be pitched again to the same company.

With the Scam set in motion, the company is listed in the directory and on the website www.mediacorp.com. The directory is sent by UPS to the company.

Part 2 (Directories)

The collection department (known in telemarketing as The BOILER room) handles the non paid invoices which make up a large % of the take. The monitored call, the proof of purchase, the authorized small fry, all contributes to the success of the Scam.

The BOILER room rotates the unpaid invoices trying to keep the calls to companies at the US legal debt collecting limit avoiding BBB & Attorney General Complaints. The goal is to get to the Owner, President, or V.P. etc. This is the turn point of the Scam. The Owner, President, V.P. etc. will pay the Full Invoice price, Partial or a Lower Fee or Nothing.



Who do they target?
Any and all Businesses including Non-Profit Organizations even Churches (But no Synagogues)

Do I have to pay?

How do I stop the Calls?
Call the Better Business Bureau

But Better..
Alert the Attorney General

Who are these guys?
Canadian Telemarketers aimed at the US and Europe

The Owners
Gordon Frank, Ted Frank, Sean Frank

Even the ... mother (Rosalyn Cobrin) of these CROOKS works there, it's a FAMILY BUSINESS!

Montreal, Toronto
Additional Addresses:

Infotel Publications, 33 Elm Street Merrimack, NH 03054

5 Cotton Lane, Champlain, NY 12919

5101 Buchan suite 250, Montreal, QC H4P 2R9

5250 Decarie Blvd suite 150, Montreal, QE H3X 2H9

94 Main Mill Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Pretoria Road Chertsay, Surrey, UK KT189LW.

Staunton, Virginia

Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on American Solution Information aka Ameri-Source Publications

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/23/2004 04:31 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/INFOTEL/Montreal-Quebec-H3X-2H9/Infotel-Another-Rip-Off-in-the-Same-Spirit-as-World-Wide-Source-Ameri-source-American-So-88667. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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#1 Author of original report

Scamfighter's Textbook:

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

I. Recognizing a Scam:

According to the FTC, telemarketers falsely represent that someone at the business previously ordered a business directory similar to the Yellow Pages. Generally, the telemarketers ask consumers to verify their shipping addresses and use the verified shipping address to claim that a directory had been ordered. Many consumers tell the callers that they did not order and do not want the directory; but they receive one anyway. Consumers seldom learn about the cost of the directory until they receive an invoice for about $300, sometime after the consumer receives the directories. Many consumers pay the invoice in the mistaken belief that they are obligated to pay for it.

Other telemarketers pitch the sale of non-durable office supplies, such as, printer rolls for automated credit card machines, machine ribbons, credit card machine cleaners, and counterfeit detection pens. The telemarketers make an initial call to the consumer to obtain the name of an employee associated with purchasing office supplies. The telemarketers also use this opportunity to confirm the shipping address for the business. The telemarketers then make a second call in which the telemarketers ask for an employee by name. Using the information obtained in the first call, the telemarketer leads the consumer to believe that the telemarketer represents the regular supplier or someone associated with the regular supplier of printer rolls. Consumers agree to accept the shipments because they believe that they previously placed an order. In some cases, consumers state that they do not want office supplies sent to them, but receive them anyway. The defendants later send the consumers invoices for approximately $100 to $200, many times the cost of similar items purchased from legitimate suppliers.

The telemarketer falsely represents that consumers previously ordered non-durable office supplies or business directories and that the telemarketers were the consumers' regular supplier. Some telemarketers are making false and misleading statements to induce payment for goods or services, failing to disclose the identity of the seller to consumers, and failing to disclose the sales purpose of the calls.

The companies go by many different names such as International Business Directories, Hanson Publications, World Wide Source, Ameri-source, American Solutions Information, IT Data Direct, Infotech, Infotek, Infomatika, Infotel, and many more. In fact, they may fail to make a sale under one alias and return under another.

It is a good policy to Google any company name that sounds suspicious. Most of the frauds pop up on the Rip Off Report when you do this.


First of all, you need to identify those who are authorized to make purchases. Instruct all staff that NO PURCHASES ARE MADE FROM INITIAL COLD CALLS. You are welcome to send us more information, but you are NOT authorized for a purchase. is a great line to use with them. I spell out that they may NOT send pre-printed invoices. Make yourself clear.

Even with such a policy, the scam will inevitably come back with a taped authorization -- yep, the JANITOR -- saying yes. But it will be an edited tape where the poor guy was asked some other question.

The scammers are hoping the invoice then slips through and gets paid. Some people mistakenly believe they have to pay.


Remember that these scammers never sent you a contract. Simply by having paid their invoice, they may assert that you have agreed' to a two-year listing at the same ridiculous rate (payable every year). They will call you to ask about your advertising in the American Business Index and when you tell them you are not advertising in that publication they will answer: Oh, but you owe us a balance.


The collection agency' is simply another boiler room' operation of the same company. They can call continually trying to wear you down. They read from a script and know how to use intimidation. But remember, you really won't get rid of them by paying. You must fight back. Here are some suggestions.
II. Report them to the Authorities:

Your own Attorney General needs to know about these scams. They may be able to use press releases to help others avoid being taken.

Then REPORT THEM TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE IN THE STATE THAT THEY PRETEND TO BE LOCATED IN. The Vermont settlement with World Wide Source makes it clear that a state can enforce fraud legislation and possibly shut down these operations within their borders.

So many of these companies have phony addresses in Champlain, New York that it is worth noting where you should report them:

State of New York
Office of the Attorney General
Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection
70 Clinton Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Tel: 518.562.3282
Fax: 518.562.3294

Then report them to the FTC:
Call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov.

We've also learned that the Canadian authorities have made it easier to report the scammers by establishing the following website: www.recol.ca

Don't Forget Mail Fraud:

This is very important. Go to www.usps.com and use the Post Office's form to report them. The scam invoice constitutes mail fraud.

Is the BBB effective and should you complain there?

Although ED Magneson has a valid point about the Better Business Bureau memberships being bought and paid for,' it IS well to note that THESE scams often DO get UNSATISFACTORY' ratings that stay on the website. Plus, we have reports that sometimes they will resolve your complaint to try to stay low on the radar. We recommend reporting them for that reason. Also, it is often where a new victim will look for information on a questionable company.
III. Fighting Harassment:

These companies have no case when it comes to a legitimate court of law. They win by continual telephone harassment -- which is itself illegal in many states. If they continue to pester you for payment, consider sending them a letter demanding that they do not harass you.

Use the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to protect yourself from illegal and unfair or deceptive debt collection tactics!

Here is one form letter to use with the scam collection agency. It is taken from a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Guide: http://www.s2snetwork.com/debt-management/sample-letter-and-debt-collection.html

Your Name
Your Address

Collector's Name
Collector's Address

Dear Collector,

I am writing in response to your (letter or phone call) dated {insert date}, (copy enclosed) because I do not believe that I owe what you say I owe.

This is the first I've heard from you, or any other company on this matter therefore, in accordance with Section 809, The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, I respectfully request that you provide me, in writing, with the following:

* What the money you say I owe is for;
* Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe;
* Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe;
* Provide a verification or copy of any judgment if applicable;
* Identify the original creditor;
* Show me that you are licensed in my state, and provide me with your license numbers

I also demand that you immediately send a copy of this dispute letter to the company that you say I owe money to so they are aware of my dispute with this debt.

I further demand that, if you have reported me to a credit reporting agency, you inform them that I have placed the debt in dispute and provide me with proof that you have done so.

Finally, stop contacting me about this or any other matter, except via mail and then only to advise me that your debt collection efforts are being terminated or that you or the creditor are taking specific actions such as pursuing court actions.

Your Signature Above Name
Printed Name


If a company (or its mail drop') is located in Massachussetts you can send a "Thirty Day Letter" which gives the business thirty days in which to prove the legitimacy of their claim and makes it illegal for them to contact you other than for that specific purpose. The following is the letter we sent by registered mail to Mr. Haligua at the Massachussetts address since we did not have the "real" address. The phony "second notices" have stopped and we have not heard from this company by phone for almost a month. We also enclosed a copy of the Vermont settlement with World Wide Source "as a courtesy." Our letter follows:


George Haligua, President 03/13/03
I.T. Data Direct, Inc.
400 W. Cummings Pk., Ste. 1575
Woburn, MA 01801

Dear Mr.Haligua:

I am writing to you under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 93A, Section 9, the Consumer Protection Act. I am writing to request relief as outlined in that statute.
On or about February 19,2003, the following occurred:

A representative of your company called and asked if I wanted to renew a directory listing. Since we had no information on your company in our database, and had no record of any transactions, I was puzzled. Your representative claimed I had an account balance of $399.95 and that our company was signed up for two more years of this recurring charge. The representative graciously offered to cancel everything if we ordered some CD from you for $149.00 plus $15.00 shipping and handling.

We have had problems with a company called World Wide Source out of Montreal Canada who uses the same line (and the same amount: $399.95). The Attorney General of Vermont has barred them from using their Vermont P.O. box and they paid a substantial settlement. Missouri has a case pending with them.

I believe this type of coercive telemarketing and reduction of nonexistent charges is declared unlawful by Section 2 of Chapter 93A, which declares unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce unlawful. Our company is listed in legitimate directories with whom we have signed contracts and receive regular printed statements.

This letter serves as my request for the following relief: In the absence of a signed contract for your product or services, please consider account#NNNNN closed and cancel invoice #NNNNN-N. Any items you ship will be refused/returned with your shipper (you also failed to provide notice of the legally mandated right to cancel). You will place our company on your do not call list and shall not contact us again by phone, fax, courier, electronic mail or in person. You have thirty days to provide written evidence that there was indeed a signed contract and any other communication shall be considered harassment and shall be reported to the authorities for prosecution under applicable Virginia, Massachussetts and Federal Statutes and U.S. Postal regulations for mail fraud.


Vermont Settlement:

MONTPELIER 05609-1001
(802) 828-3171
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General
March 21, 2002 (802) 828-2153


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 General's 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 primarily 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 customers.

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 General's 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 General's 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 Vermont's good name. We are taking a hard line against fraudulent telemarketing, especially where it hurts Vermont residents or threatens to tarnish the Vermont business community's 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)


This approach has worked well for us. In fact, in EVERY communication with the scams, I tell them:

You will place our company on your do not call list and shall not contact us again by phone, fax, courier, electronic mail or in person. You have thirty days to provide written evidence that there was indeed a signed contract and any other communication shall be considered harassment and shall be reported to the authorities for prosecution under applicable [our State], [State your mail drop is in] and Federal Statutes and U.S. Postal regulations for mail fraud.

Finally, (but MOST IMPORTANT) help others avoid this fraud by posting a complaint at www.ripoffreport.com
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#2 Author of original report

INFOTEL Attempts to Silence Cyberspace Critics, Bogus Barrister or Legitimate Lacky

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

April 27,2004

The owner of the California blog site that innocently asked: Does anyone else have this problem? (Concerning INFOTEL) received papers, delivered by registered mail demanding the identities of certain posters be revealed.

The papers came from the office of McConomy Liverman Attorneys in Montreal. Claiming the Franks had suffered great harm, the mysterious Mr. McConomy had apparently set a hearing in Montreal on this issue. As the date approached, however, the motion was withdrawn.

Bogus Barrister or Legitimate Lacky
The East Coast Debate over the Mysterious Mister McConomy Rages On

I have been collecting information on the scams for some time, as our small business is apparently a prime target for this type of bogus 'directory.' Two library employees and I have had a running discourse about scam companies and their tactics for a long time.

Mr friend with Barry University has seen her share of phony 'collection' letters and has been served enough papers to train an entire generation of Cocker Spaniels. She is convinced that this is bogus. I am of the opinion that no self respecting professional is going to make a fool of himself by writing a letter that so blatently ignores the realities of jurisdiction and begs discussions such as this. I mean, is $1000 for a set of papers really worth risking your credibility?

My friend has seen a lot of 'do it yourself' efforts by the scams to shut her up. They usually show their lack of knowledge at some point and she says "gotcha."

"this is starting to read like a P.G. Wodehouse novel. (in order to avoid defamation charges, you have to create your own picture of the Mysterious Mister McConomy. We CAN'T help you. But if you had a Mr. Potato Head as a child, remember that the box contains a bowler hat, monocle, perhaps spats. But remember... we CAN'T help you). O.K. go read "Leave it to Psmith" and come back with your creation.

Another librarian writes: Apparently McConomy is the name of a real Montreal lawyer, but any
fool can pull names out of the phone book.

Heh, they are pretty good at that too! Their own original scam!
Wonder if they use their own worthless directory for that!!!!
That thought is too hilarious!

That said, I wouldn't put it past them to pay for real legal services when it is to their advantage. So it is wise to be cautious in dealing with communications from the scams.

The first letter Calblog received was from a real California Attorney. Sound investment for the scam? Probably, as it put the kabosh on "infolie, an employee with inside information. Problem is it also generated a lot of interest from people like us with a legitimate beef against this type of "company."

Another problem: I don't see how the Pope himself can force anyone to take down legitimate complaints and articles that are properly sourced from such places as the FTC web site or Phonebusters.

There is a reason most crime happens in the dark, you know.
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