Attorney General Hardy Myers today assisted businesses throughout Oregon by filing a court action against an Ohio publishing company that "papered" the state with phony invoices for an Internet business directory.
Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance are AP Publishing, Inc. of Aurora, Ohio that does business in Oregon as Yellow Pages Plus, and its president, Robert D. Hicks also of Aurora.
"Oregon's simulated invoice law provides a unique protection for the state's business community," Myers said. "Our state is one of a handful with an effective law that makes it illegal for businesses to scam other businesses with promotions that appear to be billings from familiar companies."
The Department of Justice received 57 complaints from businesses around Oregon. The businesses reported that they received what appeared to be an invoice from Qwest, their phone company. Justice subsequently identified 45 victims that paid for what they thought were monthly yellow page services only to later discover that they signed up for a business directory on the Internet.
The Oregon solicitations, printed on white paper with blue ink, mimicked Qwest bills as to size and design including the familiar "walking fingers logo." A disclaimer that the mailing piece was an advertisement rather than a bill could be found buried in the billing information in small type.
Under the Assurance, AP Publishing is permanently prohibited from doing business in Oregon. The agreement admits no violation of law.
The company has paid Justice more than $10,000 for restitution to be distributed to the 45 businesses that paid the company between $218 to $297 for the non-existent services. AP paid Justice $4,387.66 to cover the costs of the investigation. AP also must pay full refunds to businesses identified in the future by Justice as having paid monies to the company after receiving its invoice.
Businesses wanting more information about this settlement and the simulated invoice law may contact the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org