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Scammers peddle magazines

Solicitors in Columbia are claiming to be journalism students.
Friday, August 12, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:37 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

It’s as much a part of summer as county fairs and dried-out lawns: college-age magazine solicitors going door to door claiming to be raising money for their education or, say, a foreign-exchange program.

This week, Columbia residents in all parts of town have encountered young people claiming to be MU School of Journalism students, specifically broadcast students, sponsored by Integrity.com and selling magazine subscriptions.

“We deal with this every year,” Columbia Police Sgt. Diane Bernhard said. “Typically, somebody comes in with these college-aged kids, drops them off and picks them up later, then move onto the next area.”

Police said they had received four calls of illegal solicitation so far this week.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department also reported one complaint of illegal solicitation this week.

Cedar Lake subdivision resident Annette Sanders called the police after a young man came to her door with a story that just didn’t have the ring of truth,

“There was something not right about his demeanor,” Sanders said.

Sanders, who is a member of her neighborhood watch, said that after the young man left, she ran into him again in the neighborhood and asked him if he had a business license, and he said he did not. He said he was trying to earn points to go on a foreign exchange program with the MU School of Journalism and gave the name of one of his professors as “Dr. Scriptner.” He went on to say that the magazine subscription program was sponsored by a Web site called “Integrity.com.”

Sanders, who works in media relations and says she knows many journalism school faculty, said she knew there was no such professor and called the police.

William Kline, 21, of Tampa, Fla., was arrested nearby on suspicion of soliciting without a business license. There is no William Kline listed in any directory of MU students.

As for Integrity.com, it’s an Internet Service Provider specializing in filtering content for families and children.

The next day, Sanders said, a second woman was using the same story and said the man arrested on Monday was her boyfriend.

Bernhard said it’s usually difficult to find illegal solicitors because they are gone from the area before police get there.

“Best thing to do is to always ask for a business license,” Bernhard said. “Anyone that is uncomfortable with the situation should call the police. It’s the best way to protect yourself.”


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