Three California women suspected of attempting to scam Iowa libraries and businesses are now barred from operating in Iowa. If Brittany Hertsch, her half-sister Krystle Lester or their aunt Sandra Steinmetz are found to be marketing copier or printer toner, office supplies or other merchandise in Iowa they could face criminal charges.
Hertsch heads Central Supply Solutions, Lester run Elite Supplies, and Steinmetz owns Central Supply Center. They are accused of billing Iowa offices for exorbitant prices for printer toner, even though the toner had not been ordered.
Steve St. Clair works in the consumer protection division at Iowa Attorney General’s office. He says this type of scam used to be much more common.
"I had thought that it was mostly a scheme of the past," says St. Clair. "Clearly this is a reminder that we need to remain vigilant and keep our eyes open for other instances in which somebody’s kind of recycling what used to be prominent and now has become much less so."
It’s unknown if any of the offices contacted by Central Supply Solutions, Central Supply Center or Elite Supplies actually paid the fake invoices. But if anyone did pay, they are entitled to a refund.
The settlement only bars the women from doing business in Iowa. St. Clair says the women have contacted public libraries in Kansas and Illinois, and a retirement community in Nebraska.
Iowa Public Radio was able to reach one the defendants via email. Krystle Lester replied, “No comment. Thanks.”