It all started in 2009.
The previous Pioneer Memorial Public Library director received a phone call asking if we would accept a donation of a box of books from African American Publications. Since we are a small library with a tiny budget for buying books, we accepted what seemed to be a generous offer.
That's when the phonecalls started. Since 2009, the library has received almost weekly phonecalls demanding over $450 in payment for books that were eventually returned at the library's expense.
And it seems that when AAP heard there was a new library director the phonecalls have begun again as have letters from a fraudulent debt collection company named "R. R. Beach Associates."
So here's what I have done to make sure that African American Publications and R.R. Beach Associates never, ever get to play this con under these existing names.
I contacted the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to file a formal complaint against AAP, as this is where they are allegedly located. Then I contacted the Attorney General of West Virginia since this is where AAP is playing their con game.
In addition, I contacted the Attorney General of Delaware, where the fake debt collection company is allegedly located. For good measure, I contacted the Federal Trade Commission.
But wait, there's more. I researched the domain host of African American Publications as GoDaddy.com, and sent them an email letting them know that the domain they host is primarily engaged in illegal activities.
I am especially disgusted with AAP because I feel they are preying on institutions large and small and leveraging guilt to extort payment. Also, by keeping the money amount under $500, some libraries may break down and pay just to make the phonecalls cease. The under $500 may also relieve them of larger charges if and when they are formally charged with crimes.
It did not take a lot of time to fill out forms and send them in. Now I am waiting for the phonecalls to stop.
I am hoping that by posting this that other small institutions and libraries may learn from my cautionary tale. The bottom line is that during a weak economy even the crooks and the con artists step up their game. But the other side of that is that we all have legal recourse available to us. I hope that if you or someone you know of has been the victim of fraud, conning, or other consumer abuse that you will go out of your way to report them to the proper authorities.
Don't get mad, get even. If you have a complaint against a company or business and need help filing a formal complaint, stop by the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, West Virginia, and I'll be happy to help you out.
Update: 2/11/15 - Received a phone call from a Dr. Derrick Jones from African American Publications in Philadelphia. This is the same scam company and "Dr. Jones" got an earful from me. I am amazed this scam is still going on.