The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Union County

April 9, 2014

Marketer sought in dog park fundraiser scam

— LEWISBURG — A former Lewisburg marketer up and left town a few months ago, and in his wake, a fake campaign was uncovered, allegedly to raise funds for a local year-round dog park.

No one seems sure how much money Elijah Love may have collected for what he called the Lewisburg Dog Park through a “fundraising community mailer” that featured participating sponsors.

He allegedly sold advertising in the mailer to local businesses and solicited funds through a Lewisburg Dog Park page on Facebook, according to a Wednesday announcement from the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority.

Love’s effort implied a connection with the recreation group that does not exist, Executive Director Katie Davis said.

“BVRA is aware of this ... we are not affiliated with this fundraising effort in any way,” she said. The group also “has no way of determining or validating amounts that may be given toward the dog park project” through Love’s solicitation.

A Facebook contest, still online as of deadline Wednesday, touts a “sponsor sweepstakes” for the Lewisburg Dog Park, saying 20 winners each will get a $25 gift certificate “for any of the dog park sponsors listed on our fundraising community mailer.”

Love was the owner of EZvaluepack, described as “a division of Lewisburg Media Group LLC,” a one-stop marketing shop in a suite at 1722 W. Market St. in East Buffalo Township. The business’s website said it “helps organizations raise awareness through direct mail, social media, mobile marketing, sweepstakes and sponsorship.”

EZvaluepack’s Lewisburg telephone number has a disconnected number message; the Facebook page has a cellphone number with a California area code that says the number is not working.

Love’s personal Facebook page states he lives in Lewisburg and is from Santa Barbara, Calif.

“He got me for about $300 in advertising,” said John Yorty of Yukon Cards & Comics, in the same suite of shops on Market Street for about 10 years. Love sold Yorty on a direct mailing and a free cellphone app that featured coupons, but Yorty said he saw nothing from his investment and doesn’t expect to.

“I knew way back; he was a good talker,” Yorty said of Love, who abruptly moved out of his next-door suite in December. He added that many downtown Lewisburg merchants are looking for Love but could not say which ones, and that sheriff’s deputies had been by the storefront looking for Love. The Union County Sheriff’s Department could not confirm that information.

Yorty also noted Love had a big black Labrador retriever that was with him nearly constantly.

The Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority became aware of the scheme during the past few weeks, Davis said, as people came into the office confused about the fundraiser.

“We are trying to raise money for a year-round dog park, but we are just in the planning phase of it,” Davis said. Donations can be made at the BVRA offices, and an escrow account has been set up for the future park.

The present dog park, at St. Mary Street near the back side of the community pool, will open for its second year in late August. It’s a seasonal park because the same grounds are used for children’ summer camp, Davis said. It closed to dogs in early December for the ice rink and other activities to function.

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