Belton man arrested for deceptive business practices
Nevada, Mo. -- A 49-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday, Jan. 8, for a felony charge of deceptive business practices and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Ephran Price, Belton, Mo., was charged with the class D felony and class A misdemeanor after allegedly selling fraudulent advertising space on a binder cover for major telephone directories, to local businesses.
According to a report by Nevada Police Sgt. Casey Crain, on Jan. 7 Officer Foster of the Nevada police department was dispatched to a local business, where people reported that Price visited with them claiming affiliation with several companies such as Yellow Book, Names & Numbers and Yellow Pages. These companies' insignias were printed on his sales materials and business cards. He told store owners that they could advertise on a book cover for the phone directories through his company.
Upon contacting some of the phone directories in an effort to verify Price's legitimacy, victims of the scam learned that the suspect was unknown by the companies, nor were they aware of his company or the products he was selling.
Following up further with the suspected scam artist, business owners tried to contact his address and phone number listed on sales papers only to find that they did not exist.
Nevada Police determined that over the past several months Price had sold fake ad space to about 30 area businesses for a total cost of around $10,000.
Victims of the scam were charged $350 to place an ad on the non-existent phone book covers.
On Jan. 8, Officer Burdick received a call that the suspect was back in the area, continuing his sales pitch with local stores. When Burdick stopped Price, who was driving a 1999 maroon, Jeep Cherokee, Price was taken into custody for investigation of fraud and theft. A search by Burdick of the suspects vehicle turned up two hand-rolled cigarettes, later confirmed to contain marijuana.
Once in custody Price was interviewed by Crain where it was confirmed that he had no affiliation with the companies he used in his sales pitch and could not provide contact information for the persons he claimed manufacture the product.
Price told authorities the he had sold this product in Kentucky as well; however, Sgt. Crain claims that the city and county given was found not to exist in the Kentucky.
Price was held in Vernon County jail on a $10,000 cash only bond and $5,000 cash or surety bond. He was able to obtain the funds needed for bond and was released Thursday.
Price is slated to appear at the Circuit Court for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 17.