Publisher Gets Five Years for $2.5m Newspaper Ad Scam

07 March 2001

Scott Maurice Rose, self-styled publisher of the entirely fictitious Jewish World News, is today reflecting on his next five years as a guest of the Illinois penal system.

Rose, sentenced yesterday by the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, pleaded guilty to the charge of mail fraud. He set-up his scam in 1991 with a team of telemarketers, telling gullible advertisers that his mythic medium had a monthly paid circulation of 348,000.

Although Jewish World News' actual print run was never more than a few hundred each month, Rose achieved credibility by printing a enough copies to send ad tear-sheets to his many victims – and distribute a few token newspapers to synagogues and retail outlets.

According to federal prosecutor Hal Goldsmith, the victims were not just momma-and-poppa operations and included a number who should have been more streetwise.

One such sucker was St Louis sports and entertainment complex Kiel Center, now named Savvis Center, which traded some $23,000-worth of tickets to events such as ice shows and a circus in return for ad space. “We understood them to be a local paper,” said marketing manager Michele Peck plaintively.

Predictably, every agency and media executive interviewed by Advertising Age insisted that although others had been fooled, they would never have been taken in by the scam, no siree!

Said Elie Rosenfeld of Joseph Jacobs Advertising, a New York agency specializing in Jewish media: “We know that anybody we haven't heard of who claims a circulation of 350,000 can't be telling the truth.”

Warned Ellen Tanenbaum, media buyer at WPP's The Media Edge in New York: "We don't want to condemn all small media, but there's a tremendous opportunity there for scams.”

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline