January 23, 2008
To All State Newspaper Associations
RE: Fraudulent Business Opportunity Classified Advertising
It has come to our attention that a number of newspapers all over the United States are and have been running classified ads from Premier Greetings, Omega Business, and/or Cards-R-Us. These ads may be coming through newspaper groups as placement requests for your statewide classified advertising networks.
These ads generally read, “HALLMARK/AMERICAN GREETINGS Be your own boss. Earn $50k-$250k/year. Call now! 1-888-238-1635,” or use very similar wording. The most recent round may only use Hallmark’s name and a 1-800 number in the copy. These ads have been running in both on-line and print classified sections.
The purpose of this letter is to inform your association and its members that these businesses are not legitimate and that these ads are a scam. We and American Greetings have received countless telephone calls from newspaper readers who have responded to these ads and have lost all the money they invested in this “opportunity.” The investors typically pay thousands of dollars and receive store fixtures and a selection of cards not from Hallmark or American Greetings. Hallmark Cards, Incorporated does not seek distributors, retailers or any other associates in this manner.
We are working to try to stop this unauthorized use of our name and track down these con artists. However, each time we are able to find the company behind these ads, they “morph” into another company. They change the business name and location, and sometimes the toll-free number, and start the advertising campaign over.
The Federal Trade Commission has filed cases involving the use of various types of misrepresentations in the past, and we have made them aware of our concerns.
We understand that none of your association members are under any obligation to refuse this advertising but we hope that, in the interest of their subscribers and protection of the public from such scams, they will consider refusing to run these ads. We would greatly appreciate it if you would share this letter and our request with your association members.
If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this further, I can be reached at the address, telephone or email listed below.
Thank you for your consideration and any assistance you can offer.
Albert P. Mauro
Hallmark Cards, Incorporated
2501 McGee Trafficway, MD 339
Kansas City, Missouri 64108