Finally, magazine scammers face justice

I think every ethical magazine circulation professional has done some hand-wringing about accepting subscription agency orders. We know most agents are ethical and great partners in managing rate bases. But we also know that trying to eliminate all the fraud and shenanigans in the subscription-selling business is like playing a shameful game of whack-a-mole. Every article we read about young door to door sales teams made up of teenagers who are abandoned away from home or killed in unsafe minivans makes us question the ethics of accepting agency orders. While we don’t knowingly do business with these companies, sometimes the subscriptions they sell are “cleared” through agents we accept as clean and legitimate.

The scammers who go after vulnerable adults are also a frustrating problem for publishers. Virtually every circulation manager that accepts agent orders is aware of fraudulent renewal notices sent in our magazine’s name to our own subscribers to companies who spring up across the country.

Finally some of these scammers have been caught, charged, convicted and sentenced for taking too much money from people who can’t afford it with deceptive and bullying practices. A recent article from the Star Tribune lays out the legal charges in federal court for some of these agents.

But they all haven’t been caught. And there are pieces of this illegal process not yet revealed, like how some of these “agents” get lists of our current subscribers, but any progress in conviction and restitution is welcome news.