The caller starts by expressing interest in an item listed for sale online or in the newspaper, such as a vehicle.
He asks questions about the item, and sometimes seeks directions on where he can view it in person.
Then he says he works for “Steelheader Magazine” and asks if the seller would be interested in advertising the item in his publication for a small fee.
He might call back a few days later, wondering if the seller is now ready to advertise. He becomes belligerent if asked for more details.
He also contacts businesses to solicit advertising. Some people have paid the fee, only to discover there is no actual publication; only a website with a series of business listings and items for sale.
The “editor in chief” of Steelheader Magazine is listed online as Terry Hanson.
The Abbotsford News first learned about Hanson in 2008, when two staff members received calls about items they had listed for sale in a newspaper classified section.
Const. Ian MacDonald said the Abbotsford Police Department has received numerous complaints about “Steelheader Magazine” in the last four years, although he couldn’t name the individual involved because no charges have been laid.
MacDonald said the complaints centre on a person who uses “aggressive” tactics while purporting to sell advertising for a magazine.
MacDonald said it is a “buyer beware” situation.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has given an “F” rating to Steelheader Magazine, saying it has failed to respond to three complaints and has not made available to the BBB sufficient background information on the business.
The BBB lists an address in Abbotsford as the location for Steelheader Magazine.
B.C. Registry Services indicated that Steelheader Magazine is “not incorporated or registered under the Business Corporations Act, Society Act, Cooperative Association Act, Financial Institutions Act or Partnership Act.”
However, a business called “The Steelheader News” has been listed with the registrar of companies since 2002. Terry B. Hanson is listed as the proprietor at an address in Chilliwack, although he has since moved to Abbotsford.
A business licence for Steelheader Magazine or The Steelheader News does not exist with the City of Abbotsford, according to online listings.
Travis Parker, recently the manager of Hub Sports in Abbotsford, said the store is well aware of Hanson. He used to drop off copies of “The Steelheader News,” which Parker described as a “newspaper-type publication.” He said he hasn’t seen it for several years.
Nicholas, who did not want his last name published, met Hanson in person about four weeks ago after posting an ad on Craigslist for an ATV trailer he was selling in Abbotsford.
Nicholas received a phone call from Hanson and agreed to pay $20 to place his trailer listing in Steelheader Magazine, which he assumed was a publication. He said Hanson then texted him three times and called him twice through the day, wanting to make arrangements to receive his fee.
His trailer listing appeared on the Steelheader Magazine website, but Nicholas couldn’t find the publication anywhere. He even visited Hub Sports to see if the store carried it. That’s when he discovered that it doesn’t appear to exist.
Monique Duhamel of Abbotsford encountered Hanson after posting an ad on Craigslist to promote her home-based business that makes and sells Ukrainian food.
She received an email from a man saying he had seen her listing and would like her to contact him. When she called, he identified himself as Terry Hanson of Steelheader Magazine, she said.
He then mentioned that he runs a magazine and one of his advertisers had cancelled an ad. Duhamel could have the $325 space for $28, as long as she paid him by noon.
The man walked her through the process of sending an email money transfer. A few days later, Duhamel had not heard back from him. Phone messages and emails requesting a refund were sent to him but were not returned right away, she said. Hanson told her the reason for the delay was because he had been in an accident.
Duhamel said only then did her ad appear on the website. She said she was surprised because a website had not been mentioned during previous emails and phone conversations with Hanson.
“I thought it was an actual magazine,” she said.
After three email requests, Hanson’s lawyer asked that his client be emailed a list of questions, which was sent on March 4. Hanson did not reply to the questions as of press deadline.