Are booksellers in your neighborhood to steal your kids? Urban myth or truth

Debunking Facebook post to uncover truth; 5 tips on door-to-door sales

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

“Oh my gosh, I just read on Facebook about those Russian women who are going through neighborhoods stealing kids and forcing them into the sex trades,” the woman from next door blared out. “You don’t think that was the same people who stopped by last week do you?”

Sam’s heart dropped. A van had stopped on her street and put two women out. “This is EXACTLY what happened in my neighborhood,” she thought to herself.

When they knocked on the door and introduced themselves their accents were very clear – Russian or Slavic in nature, she thought recalling the incident. The one woman was a bit aggressive and she showed a list of extremely personal information about my neighbors. The younger woman had tried to force her way into the house for about 15 minutes, Sam remembered. At one point, she had threaten to call the Idaho Falls Police Department, but didn’t. It was so intense at the time, but now, not so much, she recalled.

“Oh, calm down,” she said to her neighbor. “It’s probably nothing.”

After her neighbor went home, Sam spent the next three hours on the Internet reading reports, stories and news about the nefarious door-to-door sales crews Facebook post.

Postings like this may have some truths, but law enforcement has little proof the booksellers kidnap United States children.

BBB research shows the young men and women work for Southwestern Advantage, a book publisher as part of a summer sales program for college students. A Southwestern Advantage official Trey Campbell said the tactics used to find children, their habits and interests are all part of good selling.

“They try to save time and skip over people who don’t have children and won’t be prospects for the product,” the official said.

He said this rumor began on Facebook, posted by someone in Tulsa, Okla., and it has been re-posted in other states on other walls. Debunking the rumor – especially the kidnapping – is never-ending process.

The myth is only perpetuated when door-to-door sales crews disrespect local ordinances or break the law.

BBB reminds everyone – whether dealing with educational books and materials, cleaning supplies, home alarm systems and even frozen meat and poultry – to be cautious of a door to door salesperson or itinerant worker if they:

Use high pressure sales tactics. A reputable seller will give you time to think through the deal and make an appointment to return at a later date. A dishonest seller will try to get you to sign up immediately and perhaps intimidate you into opening your wallet before you can do your research. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics—even if the deal supposedly won’t last long or the salesperson is aggressive—it’s worth it to stop and think it over first.

Offer a deal that sounds too good to be true. Some sellers might offer an extremely good price for their products or services. The adage holds true that you get what you pay for and many people have been quickly disappointed when the products didn’t live up to the hype or the company did a shoddy job.

Can’t or won’t provide you with personal identification. Any legitimate salesperson will be able to give you positive identification for both themselves and their company. Also beware of sellers who don’t appear to have any ties to the community. Itinerant workers often enter and exit an area quickly, usually with the money of the people they have scammed.

Represent a company with a poor rating from your BBB. Before you break out your checkbook, always check the company out with your BBB first to see how many complaints they’ve received and how they’ve handled them in addition to BBB’s overall rating.

Fail to follow federal law.  Federal law requires that if you buy more than $25 in goods, the salesperson must tell you of your rights to cancel within three business days. Called the “cooling off” rule, these rights are typically included with the company’s contact information on the receipt or contract.


Filed under News You Can Trust

2 responses to “Are booksellers in your neighborhood to steal your kids? Urban myth or truth

  1. Mark Burrows

    Rumors or urban myths cause more havoc than anything. People fail to use reasoning and logic. Yes, it is true that children get kidnapped for terrible reasons, but in North America it is always by a single predator. Teenagers are a different story, they get into the business because they usually run away from home.
    Russians or any other foreign nation is not going to start scooping up North American children for the sex trade. The reasoning is quite simple, there are far more European or Asian children that they can simply purchase from poor parents, with little cash and promises of protection. The sex trade is the most profitable in North America, so they would not ship them elsewhere. The very reason they do not wish to use North American girls or women is because they consider us vain, opulent, greedy, egotistic, and not very attractive. They consider European and Asian females have more natural beauty, and are more exotic. They can be molded to suit any desire.
    They will not get this from North American females, because they will be stubborn, and also their families would be on the constant lookout for their children. In other cultures, they want sons, they care little or less about their daughters.
    Therefore, Russian women kidnapping children for the sex trade is just another urban myth started because people are so gullible and paranoid they will believe anything and spread it around like wildfire.
    Also, note, there is a really bad B movie on one of the streaming networks that has a movie based on this premise, so that is probably where the idea came from.
    The other thing. Why are we always picking on the Russians? The peoples of Russia fought hard to put down Communism, don’t you think they have suffered enough? Sure there are still some crazies in power and government flunkies and sure there is the version of the Russian Mafia. But so what? There is still the original Mafia hanging about, Have they all become saints now? The Chinese have had a powerful underground for almost 200 years in North America but little is said about them. They only surfaced when there started to be an influx of immigrants from Vietnam and had to start to defend their territories.
    Every culture that has become a part of what is the being of North America has it’s bad apples that form gangs and groups who try to profit from the bad habits of others. We have Klu Klux Klan, we have Nazi Socialists, we have motorcycle gangs. We have people living in remote communes loading up on massive weapons thinking they are going to be the last bastion of civilization and are so mind twisted that some of them get loose. We have enough problems without generalizing that the Russians are the most evil people in the world.
    It is only the leaders, and those in power to corrupt that are evil, not the masses. If you believe otherwise, then you are a bigot, a racist, and an all around selfish person.

    Mark Burrows

  2. Pingback: Don’t give in to high pressure tactics from door-to-door salespeople | BBBTV

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