KRWG Alert: Magazine Subscription Fraud Investigation

Las Cruces – The NMSU Police Department has identified a group of individuals working the area of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County who may be attempting to defraud residents.

The individuals are attempting to sell magazine subscriptions, claiming they are part of a local sports team, a college class, or a neighbor, and that they get credit toward their grade or a number of points based on the number of subscriptions they sell. Similar incidents in the past have shown these claims to be false, and it is questionable as to whether or not any of the subscriptions will ever be filled.

There is no class at New Mexico State University that awards academic credit for door-to-door sales of any products, and magazine sales are not a method of fundraising used by the university. While some K-12 schools use magazine sales as fundraisers, these are usually easily identified based on the age of the sellers and there is usually a secure website where people can go to make purchases directly.

Consumers are urged to use caution anytime they are approached by someone trying to sell magazine subscriptions or other goods that display any of the following characteristics:

1) Identification provided by the sales person is often of poor quality, and they do not have a state produced picture identification card (such as a driver's license);

2) No receipts are given, or the receipts they provide are from out of town, and often use a post office box or a suite number as an address;

3) Telephone numbers provided are often disconnected, ring continuously without being answered, ring into a hotel room, or are cellular telephones;

4) Individuals trying to sell the magazines are trying to "earn points" for a contest, and the "winner" will either get a scholarship, a free trip, a cash prize, or college credits;

5) Subjects will sometimes carry a black leather or plastic notebook measuring about 4 inches by 8 inches that contains their "receipts"; and

6) Subjects use high-pressure sales tactics (they don't accept a polite "No thank you, I'm not interested"), are not willing to give the person time to think about it and come back later, they want cash and not checks, and they may follow the victim to an ATM machine in order to get the money right away.

NMSU Police officials encourage people encountering these sales tactics to use caution. Similar groups using these sales tactics in the past have been identified as being fraudulent, with some of the individuals being wanted by police in other states. These individuals initially appear very friendly and are in their late teens and twenties before switching to high-pressure tactics.

Individuals still wishing to purchase magazine subscriptions from these individuals are encouraged not to divulge credit card numbers. In addition, use of checks may provide the person with a bank account number that can be used to make an unauthorized withdrawal from the victim's account. Residents are also urged to use caution about letting these types of individuals into their homes. Several victims in past years have reported items missing shortly after these people leave, and others have reported being burglarized within a few days.

As a reminder, door-to-door sales of any type are strictly prohibited at NMSU. Anyone on campus encountering such behavior is encouraged to contact the NMSU Police Department at 646-3311. Anyone encountering suspicious sales outside of the university should consider contacting their local law enforcement agency.