Predatory Publishing in Indiana
If you are a petty thief, Indiana is not the state to bother with. Petty thieves go to jail in Indiana. However, if you are willing to scam lots of people out of lots of money—hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars—then Indiana is definitely the place for you!
Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it is true. Here are two cases in point.
Airleaf Publishing and Marketing, formerly Bookman Marketing, which was located in Martinsville, Indiana, until it shut down in 2007 due to an active author campaign of stopping the cash flow, robbed over 1,000 authors out of more than 2 million dollars in publishing and publicity schemes. The owner, Carl Allen Lau, with the help of his Executive Vice President, Brien Jones, conspired to defraud or rather “con” struggling authors by selling book promotions that never came true.
The fraudulence included:
• Selling publishing packages but never publishing the books after a year or two of delays, galleys riddled with errors, or just printing them with the errors.
• Selling promotion packages to authors for thousands of dollars promising to make them “celebrities.”
• Selling authors a trip on the Carnival Cruise Line for September 2007 that was never booked but never refunding the money to the authors.
• Selling book reviews for publications such as Kirkus and Bowker for $799.00 while the books sat under the desk of the owner of the company.
• Charging authors $800.00 to take their books to the German Book Fair and “pretending” they were there while the owner sat in his office directing the staff to tell inquiring authors that they were working hard in Germany.
• Collaborating with a shady movie production company, Lite Stone Entertainment in California and putting up a website where 29 Airleaf authors had their books displayed under the headline “books in production or pre-production” giving false hope to authors who believed their books would be seen on the big screen. They used this as a “hook” to talk new authors into publishing by showing how Airleaf books were being turned into movies.
• Promoting on their website and in their publicity that an “Airleaf book,” Jessie’s Girl, was being turned into a movie. This wasn’t an Airleaf book—it was a five minute trailer made by Lite Stone several years earlier that was just that—a five minute trailer. And yet, they announced that they were now legitimately in the motion picture business, even opening up a fraudulent booking agency, the Allen Agency, in California, to persuade authors to publish and promote with them.
• Keeping authors’ royalties from in-house sales, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Even six months after the company closed, the owner, Carl Lau, still had an account taking in the sales from authors’ books that were never paid to the authors.
Less than a year before Airleaf closed, Brien Jones, former Executive Vice President of Airleaf, left the company and started his own company, Jones Harvest Publishing, in the basement of his house, in Bloomington, Indiana. He saw the money flowing through Airleaf primarily through his sales persuasion and decided he would rather make the money for himself. Promising authors that he would be “different,” he was able to convince hundreds of wounded Airleaf authors that he, too, was a victim of Airleaf while setting them up for their second scam of throwing away their money. Sadly, many people fell for this story because Jones is the “King of Con” of marketing fraud. He targets elderly and disabled people who are the most vulnerable of all. He even had one of his former employees tracking down people in nursing homes for business.
Jones sold authors packages for $5,000.00 - $7,000.00 promising them that he would work with them to become “celebrities” through his extensive marketing campaigns that included television and national radio which never happened. He took their books to Hollywood, just as Airleaf did, at $550.00 a shot giving them false hope that their books could become a feature film. He promised to call every media outlet and bookstore in the city the author lived in to promote their books—but never did. He sold book reviews for $1,000 that he displayed on his site promising authentic book reviews by professionals. The “professionals” were Jones and his recent college graduated nephew Tim from their newly established review firm of T and R Reviews. The R stood for Tim’s wife, Rosa.
To date, there are nearly 70 verified complaints about the Jones Harvest fraudulence including galleys that were never delivered after a year or more, books that were never printed because the “printer is holding them up,” a catalogue that authors paid hundreds of dollars for but never was printed, and promises of publicity services that never happened. In fact, his entire paid staff quit one by one because of his fraudulence. The only ones running the company are Jones, his wife Brandy, his mother, and a clerk. Although Jones Harvest published a “guarantee” on their website to return money to dissatisfied customers, when the authors requested their money back, they were told it didn’t apply to all customers. For more information on this fraudulence, see the website at JonesHarvestFraudVictims.com.
The government agencies of Indiana which are responsible for protecting people against consumer fraud have been notified repeatedly about the fraudulence of Jones Harvest Publishing, but they have been unwilling to take meaningful action therefore allowing more innocent victims to continue getting scammed.
The negligence of the government agencies of Indiana in handling this situation of predatory publishing in their state has caused thousands of innocent people to lose over 3 MILLION DOLLARS that can be accounted for.
Although investigations have been conducted for over two years, by the time Indiana moves its wheels of justice, it’s too late to get restitution for its victims because the owners don’t have the money to pay the victims. To date, the Airleaf Victims organization which can be seen at AirleafVictims.com, has over 600 verified complaints of fraudulence.
Government officials who were contacted including the governor, state senators, and congressmen were clear in letting us know that this matter is “not their job.” No one seems to know whose job it is to stop this kind of fraudulence, nor do they seem to care.
We have pleaded with the U.S. Attorney, Timothy Morrison, to bring criminal charges against these predators. He has refused claiming that these actions don’t fit the criminal statues of Indiana. This is unacceptable to us. We have provided concrete evidence including testimony of former employees to attest to the fraud. Our letters and phone calls go unanswered. Ignoring us will not make us go away—it only makes us more determined to seek justice.
To read some of these criminal actions that the U.S. Attorney Timothy Morrison doesn't recognize as "criminal," see our site at www.AirleafVictims.com.
If you are a victim of this Indiana fraudulence, please join the campaign to right this wrong by writing to Bonnie Kaye, the organizer, at Bonkaye@aol.com.
And if you are a major crook who is looking to see what you can get away with in Indiana, feel free to contact me as well so I can help you understand all the things you can do wrong without getting punished.