FTC Sues Online ‘Yellow Pages’ Operation for Scamming Small Businesses, Doctors’ Offices, Retirement Homes, and Religious Schools
At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a federal court has halted, pending litigation, an Oklahoma City-based operation that allegedly bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from small businesses, doctors’ offices, retirement homes, and religious schools throughout the country by charging them for unwanted listings in an online “yellow pages” directory. The FTC seeks to permanently stop the illegal practices, which generated a large number of complaints to the FTC and the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma.
According to a complaint filed by the FTC, Your Yellow Book (YYB) faxed documents that resembled invoices with the well-known “walking fingers” image to consumers with whom they had no preexisting relationship, asking them to “verify” or “update” their current listing information in their actual listing in YYB’s Internet business directory. The documents requested payment of up to $487 from consumers. Many consumers paid, believing YYB’s claims that their organization had agreed to be listed in the directory. Some consumers were told they would have to pay a fee to cancel.
The complaint names Brandie Michelle Law, Dustin R. Law, Robert Ray Law, and Your Yellow Book Inc, also doing business as Your Yellow Book. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service had issued cease-and-desist orders to Brandie Law and Robert Law, in 2011 and 2012, for similar misconduct.
The defendants are charged with misrepresenting that consumers had a preexisting business relationship with them and that consumers agreed to buy a directory listing and thus owed the defendants money, in violation of the FTC Act.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Division, was 5-0. The court entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on July 25, 2014.
The FTC would like to thank the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General, and the Oklahoma City Better Business Bureau for their assistance in this matter.
To learn more about directory scams, read Small Business Scams.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.