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Book peddlers stir up concern on social media - abc27 WHTM

Book peddlers stir up concern on social media

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

From Carlisle to Ephrata parents have gone on social media to warn each other of a bike-riding, book-selling person or group going door-to-door around the midstate.

Those who were approached said the salesmen were very persistent and spoke with thick accents. They also said the person asked where they could find other homes with children inside

Word of this -- mixed with some speculation -- took off, with community members saying perhaps "book selling" was actually an elaborate cover-up for a "child abduction ring."

But that's not what police think. They believe this person also came to the Lower Allen Township municipal building as well.

"A foreign national came in to apply for a solicitors permit, which we appreciate them coming in," said Chief Frank Williamson. "When the individual left we gave them a map of the township showing them where Lower Allen was an where they could and couldn't go."

The problem is that the person never returned to finished the paperwork.

He told police he was part of a foreign exchange sales program, and, when a permit is requested from a person who has lived elsewhere, the process of getting the proper background check can be lengthy.

"It's a real good marketing scheme for the companies but the kids are the ones that could get the fines," he said of the foreign companies who often send student overseas to sell goods door-to-door.

Williamson adds that the peddlers might want to brush up on their sales strategy because their pitch hasn't won many over.

Northern York Regional Police Department and York Regional Police Department said they have received similar reports in their areas. These peddler, they say, are affiliated with Southwestern Advantage Publishing Group, a company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The police departments said they worked with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the allegations that they are involved in a child abduction ring. They have not found any evidence to support this.

In York County, four of these peddlers were granted soliciting permits for Dover and Manchester Townships. Northern York County Regional Police Department said all had proper identification and credentials and were listed on the company's website as certified dealers.

All of the individuals involved are university students from Eastern Europe who are legally in the U.S. They and have foreign accents but are fairly fluent in English.

According to the Better Business Bureau, between 2,500 and 3,000 students market and sell books through the company and have over four million personal interactions with families and customers each summer.

However, various police departments have warned that resident's across the midstate should be cautious of anyone who comes to their door. If that person has a permit to sell door-to-door they are required to display their paperwork upon arrival.

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