Larimer couple indicted for scamming nearly $2M in fake magazine subscriptions
Federal authorities arrested a Larimer couple who, according to an indictment unsealed Monday, scammed nearly $2 million from more than 21,000 people who thought they were buying magazine subscriptions to benefit children's hospitals, military support groups and other charities.
Samuel Cole, 43, and Larhon Buchanan, 31, engaged in an elaborate confidence game in which they hired groups of young men and women to sell fake subscriptions door to door across the country, the indictment said.
A federal grand jury on Oct. 23 indicted each on one count of conspiracy, 12 counts of mail fraud and 25 counts of wire fraud.
They kept the scam alive from February 2007 through February 2011 by issuing an occasional refund to throw police and state regulators off the scent, the indictment said.
“These refunds, although extremely rare, provided defendants Cole and Buchanan time to move to a new location/jurisdiction; establish new bank accounts; change the company name and address; and continue the scheme to defraud,” the indictment says.
They started as New Image Consultants Inc. of Larimer in 2007, switched to Fresh Start Opportunities of Seattle in 2008 and then Destiny Sales Inc. of Dallas in 2009, the indictment said.
As they developed their scam, the pair instructed their sellers to tell victims that they were single mothers or convicted criminals who were selling the subscriptions to develop business skills to make a “fresh start” in life, the indictment said.
Law enforcement arrested the pair Nov. 11, and the two are in custody, according to court records.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301.