Bob: We received an oversized window envelope in the mail with large red letters “Extremely Urgent Mail” and “Open Immediately, Do Not Tear * Open Carefully.”

The name “Mary Ellen Withrow, 40th Treasurer Emeritus of the United States of America” was showing through the window.

I think most senior citizens would recognize her name and would be inclined to open the envelope.

Inside is a personalized letter from Ms. Withrow stating, “I have very good news for you. The only existing Ohio State Silver Bars sealed away in heavy State Silver Vault Bricks are now being handed over to residents of the state of Ohio.

“As Executive Advisor to the Lincoln Treasury, I’ve been instructed to make sure every Ohio resident hears this breaking news. But as you know not everyone reads the daily newspaper.”

Bob, this letter goes on to give a claim hotline number and a deadline of Feb. 2, along with a copy of the “news article,” which I remember is a three-quarter-page advertisement that runs periodically in the ABJ.

The article states these 1 oz. silver bars (with a Native American face on the front and a buffalo on the back) are being sold to Ohio residents at a “discount” of $59 each. Nonresidents must pay $134, it says.

I went to a local coin dealer who had a similar 1 oz. “bar” — it’s actually smaller than a G.I. dog tag — for sale at $19.

If this doesn’t qualify as a scam, I’m not sure what does! Shame on Ms. Withrow for lending (selling?) her name and reputation to this scam.

Also I would think the ABJ should be concerned with the ad it frequently runs.

Jon Andrus

Stow

Jon: I can’t speak for Ms. Withrow, but the ABJ is now officially concerned, thanks to you.

When I brought this to the attention of Vanessa Koper, the newspaper’s vice president for advertising since January 2017, I got this email in return:

“To my knowledge we have not run any of these for a very long time. ...

“This borders on mail fraud and staggers the lines of false advertising. Mary Ellen Withrow may not even be aware of her information being used in this manner.

“We will not knowingly run anything that we feel is false advertising. Because these ads come in through a third party, they are hard to track down after the run date. However, I will instruct [the person who handles these types of ads] to make sure we aren’t publishing such things.”

Sadly, Mary Ellen Withrow is well aware that her name is being used. She even approved the asinine quotes.

Now living in a retirement community in her hometown of Marion, she admitted during an interview with TribLive (website for the now all-digital Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) that she is getting paid for her endorsement. She wouldn’t say how much.

Whatever the amount, it isn’t enough. This woman was the U.S. treasurer from 1994 to 2001 under Bill Clinton, and the Ohio treasurer under Republican George Voinovich and Democrat Dick Celeste. And now she’s lowering herself to this?

You may not be shocked to learn that this slimy promotion is the handiwork of Jackson Township’s Suarez Corp. Industries, the notorious direct-mail outfit that filed for federal bankruptcy protection in August, a couple of years after its CEO, Ben Suarez, finished a 15-month prison sentence for witness-tampering in a campaign-financing scheme.

The “Lincoln Treasury,” where Ms. Withrow is the “executive advisor”? It has nothing to do with the government; it’s a Suarez subsidiary.

Suarez Corp. told TribLive it is not selling the silver as an investment but as a collectible.

Nice.

Andrus, our reader, is correct: The value of an ounce of silver, as of Friday, was about $17. A dealer would typically add 5 to 10 percent, taking it to about $19. The Suarez coin price is triple that amount.

Selling stuff for ridiculously inflated prices is not illegal. But it’s certainly sleazy.

“Believe me,” says the Beacon Journal’s Koper, “I want the revenue, but not when it is deceptive to our audience.”

Kudos to one reader for spreading the word.

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31