M ail fraud has been a problem before Benjamin Franklin’s time, and as a high profile user of the U.S. Postal Service, we have come to realize that it is not going to go away any time soon.
Over the past year, we have been issuing periodic updates on fraudulent activity that has been directed at our magazine and some of its subscribers. A number of scam operators have sent fake renewal notices and solicited orders at inflated prices, attempting to trick individuals into responding with payments, then simply taking the money and trashing the orders.
Unfortunately, with more than 90 percent of our 93,000 monthly distribution going to people who sign up to receive Texas Fish & Game directly, as opposed to buying it an issue at a time from a newsstand, we are open to this type of fraud. They are targeting every major subscriber based magazine in the nation. In Texas, Texas Monthly, Texas Parks & Wildlife and TF&G have the (dubious in this case) distinction of being the top publications in our region and, therefore, the top targets.
We have no idea how the thieves get the addresses. They may be lower than floor grime in a bus station men’s room, but they can be quite sophisticated. Some of them have staffs of phone operators and elaborate websites. So they are certainly capable of cross referencing geographic mailing lists with public access to Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. hunting & fishing license and boat registration data to build targeted lists that have a higher probability of scoring responses. Several callers have wondered why they received a renewal for Texas Fish & Game when they were not currently—or ever—subscribed to it, which is a clue that the scammers are stitching together compiled lists.
Fighting them is like playing Whack-A-Mole. We can get the Texas Attorney General or the USPS Inspectors to go after one gang, and another one pops up in another state, using a different official sounding name (Publisher’s Payment Center, Secured Publisher Mail Center… etc).
We think the best way to fight these toilet lickers is to keep a vigilant eye out for them and to continually educate our subscribers. We hope that by keeping you alert to these criminal efforts, we can do more damage to the perpetrators than what law enforcement agencies have been able to accomplish.
Doing any kind business by mail is costly. On its best day, a direct mail campaign aspires to the grand response rate of one to two percent—that’s one or two orders per 100 pieces mailed. The minimum printing and postage cost is $50 to $75 per 100. If the crooks charge you $30 to $48 for a renewal, which has been typical, they have to get two to three orders per 100 just to break even. By staying alert, if we can reduce that response rate to near zero, and get into their pockets, it will eventually teach them to leave us alone.
As has been our policy from the start, if you have sent money to one of these bogus operations, we will honor the subscription you paid for and did not receive. Simply call us at 800-725-1134, and we will take care of it