A federal court has halted, pending litigation, an Oklahoma City-based operation that allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from small businesses, doctors offices, retirement homes and religious schools throughout the U.S. by charging them for unwanted listings in an online "yellow pages" directory.
The Federal Trade Commission seeks to permanently stop the practices, which generated a large number of complaints to the FTC and the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma.
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, according to the FTC complaint. The document asked them to verify or update their current listing information in their actual listing in YYBs Internet business directory. The documents requested payment of up to $487 from consumers. Many consumers paid, believing YYBs 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.