Employees from a phone book company operated by a man who filed for bankruptcy in October are selling ads to small business owners in Rankin and Madison counties. And money is being collected for ads for new phone books that will likely never be distributed or printed.
Rankin County books were supposed to be distributed in June but have still not been delivered due to nonpayment to the printer. The phone books’ printer, Utah-based Liberty Press, still holds 45,000 Rankin County books in its warehouse. Gulf States paid for 1,700 Rankin County books in spring 2009, which the company has distributed sparingly to stall angry customers who have inquired about books.
Gulf States has produced Metro West Jackson and Rankin and Madison county phone books for years.
Pure Air Consultants in Ridgeland wrote a check for $1,200 to Gulf States in January for their balance on advertising in the Rankin book. Employee Jennifer Sanders contacted Gulf States ad salesman James Garner early this month about distribution of the books. Garner was “extremely rude and defensive” and told Sanders that directories had been distributed and that she was welcome to come by the office to pick one up, she said. Garner told her that ad representatives were too busy selling ads for the upcoming Madison County book to handle her request personally, Sanders said.
A Rankin County Chamber of Commerce, listed in the Rankin book as a center with “free copies available” was promised books in September, requested copies in November and has yet to receive any. A chamber representative who called Gulf States again early this month asking for books said the receptionist told her the company was mailing books to business individually but the company’s postage machine had just run out of ribbon.
The Flowood Chamber of Commerce received 20 books in November upon request. An advertiser who did not wish to be named said he received a few books in November after numerous phone calls to the Gulf States office and is angry that books have not been distributed to the public.
An amended complaint filed in November in Madison County Chancery Court requested that Gulf States Directory Company, along with Chris Evans’ other companies, be barred from business activities. The judge did not rule on the motion, however, before the case was transferred to federal district court, where it now awaits transfer to bankruptcy court with the rest of the Evans case.
Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company (MVT) has accused Chris Evans and his brother Charles Evans Jr. of running a commercial real estate Ponzi scheme that has done $40 million in damages to Mississippi banks. Numerous banks have sought to recover their defaulted loans from MVT, which insured them. MVT is one of 60 creditors seeking money from Evans in bankruptcy court. Charles Evans Jr. was an approved attorney of MVT and issued title insurance policies on behalf of the company.
Chris Evans and entities under his control owned properties in Madison, Desoto and Harrison counties as well as in the state of Texas. Alleged fraudulent activities began as early as 2003.
In its lawsuit, MVT alleges the Evans brothers repeatedly defrauded MVT and banks by using companies they controlled to borrow funds from lenders using various parcels of land as collateral, when the title to the collateral was not owned by the entity obtaining the loan.
NOTE: Small business owners may call Meredith Aldridge at (601) 359-4230 at the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division to submit complaints regarding unscrupulous business practices and scams.