(WMC TV) - The magazine itself was a joke: a crude, colored piece of paper stapled together with other pieces of paper.
But the two con men who crafted it still managed to cold-call an unspecified number of small businesses and convince them to pony up for "ads" in the so-called "public safety magazine."
"They would tell whoever answered the phone at the small business that they had already agreed to place an ad," said U.S. Postal Inspector George Clark. "They were simply calling to confirm."
Eventually, the scam artists stopped with the goofy visual aids and continued to sell ads for no magazine at all.
"We don't think any magazines were being published," Clark said.
Authorities did not identify the suspects. Clark said they had histories of telemarketing schemes.
Small business owners should remember: don't accept a blind sales pitch over the phone. Always check a solicitor's credentials and applicable business licenses.
Inspectors said agents caught and arrested both men. They were convicted and sentenced to two and five years in jail, respectively.