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Pittsburgh man gets 7 years in federal prison for running $1.9M sob-story magazine sales scam

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PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh man must spend seven years in federal prison for a $1.9 million sob-story scam in which 30,000 people were conned into buying magazine subscriptions that were supposed to benefit children's hospitals, veterans' support groups and other charities.

Forty-four-year-old Samuel Cole was sentenced Monday by a federal judge in Pittsburgh. He previously pleaded guilty in April. His co-defendant, 32-year-old Larhon Buchanan is serving five years' probation.

Federal prosecutors say the couple began the scam under the name New Image Consultants Inc. in 2007, then renamed their firm as they switched its mailing address from Pittsburgh, to Seattle, to Dallas.

The defendants recruited sellers and told them to pose as single mothers and ex-cons who were seeking a "fresh start" in life selling magazines. The magazines were never delivered.

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