Aspen police launch probe into alleged magazine scam | AspenTimes.com

Aspen police launch probe into alleged magazine scam

Rick CarrollThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen police are investigating complaints from local businesses that say they were duped out of thousands of dollars by a man who held himself up to be the owner of an upstart magazine and marketing firm.Sgt. Dan Davis said Wednesday that police are trying to track down local resident Taylor Colton, 41, who they believe has fled to Utah. “He’s not returning our calls,” Davis said.No warrant has been prepared for Colton’s arrest, and Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said the case has yet to reach his desk. But complaints have been mounting since about two weeks ago, Davis said. An investigation opened Monday. One of the alleged victims, Tanya Baldwin, said she paid Colton $500 for an advertisement to run in his purported new magazine, Aspen Moxie, and another $700 for recyclable shopping bags that would tout her businesses with their logos – floral-design shop Cadeau Aspen and Fig & Lily. She said she complained to police Monday after growing frustrated with Colton’s failure to return her calls about the status of her orders. The magazine, which Colton told her would come out in June or July, failed to hit the stands, and the bags have yet to be delivered, said Baldwin. Baldwin said Colton approached her earlier this summer at Fig & Lily, a specialty-gourmet foods store in Carbondale.”I had a weird feeling about him at the beginning, but he was showing up at these big events, and he was working with a lot of big Aspen companies, so I thought I’d give it a try,” she said. But lately Colton has been nowhere to be found. Baldwin said she’s not keeping her hopes up.”I don’t expect to get a dime out of this, but I do hope he is stopped,” she said. On May 23, Aspen Moxie said on its Twitter account that the magazine would debut in June. And on July 23 its Facebook page, which boasts 270 friends, ranging from Mayor Mick Ireland to medical-pot shop Leaf Aspen, declared: “We’re printing 20,000 copies in a couple weeks, bulk mailing them to 8,900 addresses here in Aspen/Snowmass and I sell 1/4 page ads for $130. Yes it’s glossy, high end, monthly, and it’s a local entertainment magazine. Just F.Y.I.”Aspen Moxie’s promotional flier, also on Facebook, lists a phone number that is no longer in service. Meanwhile, another alleged victim, Aspen Candy Co. co-owner Annie Wilkinson, said her shop in the Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall was one of the ones Colton ripped off. Wilkinson said that in late May or early June she paid Colton $1,500 for more than 300 trucker- and baseball-style hats that would advertise her business. Instead, she received just 25 hats. She also said Colton promised to give her free advertising in the Aspen Moxie debut issue.”After the Fourth of July went by, and then August, we asked where the hats are, and he said he had to buy out his partners,” she said, adding that the excuse did not seem plausible. Wilkinson said she hasn’t filed a complaint with police. Davis said it’s unclear whether the case fits into the civil or criminal realm. “We have to determine it was his intent to defraud people. That would make it criminal,” Davis said. If police do pursue criminal charges against Colton, it would be his latest run-in with the law. In August 2010, Snowmass police arrested him on weapons and burglary charges. The following October, Aspen police arrested him on a trespassing charge, and in December he was detained for violating a protection order and conditions of a bail bond, according to court records. rcarroll@aspentimes.com