This week's award for devious achievement goes to an interloper from the Land of Lincoln, where Honest Abe would surely not approve of the roguery imported to our fair state.
Last week, Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers announced a cash settlement with Chicagoan Kevin Scarborough, a door-to-door salesman who played on Portlanders' best intentions as a way to get to their wallets.
According to Myers, Scarborough runs a business in Oregon under the name K&S Enterprises. Scarborough and a crew arrived in the state in late November, selling Advanage citrus cleaner in the Portland, Tigard, West Linn and Salem areas.
Based on the testimonials on the Advanage website (www.advanage.com), it would seem that this is one mighty fine product. But Scarborough didn't just offer an environmentally safe cleaning agent. He and his team told homeowners that a percentage or all of the money earned from citrus-cleaner sales would be donated to good causes: the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service in Salem, programs for inner-city youth from Chicago and Detroit, and victims of the Sept. 11 attack in New York City.
The come-on was suspicious enough to prompt some would-be customers to call the crisis shelter, where officials said they had no connection to any such fund-raising effort. Some callers then contacted the Salem police, which in turn placed a warning in the Salem Statesman-Journal, urging people to contact the AG if they got the bogus charity pitch.
Scarborough eventually admitted to the attorney general's office that all of the money was going to his company. Myers' investigators found that K&S Enterprises had violated several state laws, and they persuaded Scarborough to sign an agreement to clean up his act and pay $500 to the crisis center and $500 to the AG's consumer-protection and education fund.
It also seems unlikely that Scarborough will be selling much citrus cleaner anywhere after this, based on the reaction from his supplier. "I am shocked that anyone would do something so despicable," says Arnold Bowen, CFO of Austin Diversified Products, which includes the Advanage line of cleansers. "We merely sell our product to distributors such as Mr. Scarborough, and after that it is out of our hands. This man clearly made a big mistake."