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Beware of family history scams

First it was Halberts of Bath, Ohio
Then Morphcorp in Denver, Colorado
Ancestry.com is the latest to promote the scam!


Genealogy is America's most popular hobby. It should come as no surprise that there are unscrupulous companies trying to make a fast buck out of it. Here is one example which relates to the Mabry family:

If your name is MABRY you may have received a flyer from "Mabry Family Yearbook" with a Denver, Colorado address. The flyer advertises "The Year 2005 International Mabry Family Yearbook". The publisher, Morphcorp LLC, is believed to be a re-incarnation of Halberts, Inc. of Bath, Ohio, (see below), which was ordered by the U.S. Postal Service to "cease and desist" after engaging in similar scams involving hundreds of surnames. The Mabry family was scammed by Halberts at least three times!

In 2005 Morphcorp was sued by Colorado Attorney General, John Suthers. In February 2006 Attorney General Suthers announced a settlement against Morphcorp, Llc, and its President, Maxwell MacMaster, for deceptive advertising of “Family Yearbooks”.
  • “The ‘Family Yearbook’ was nothing more than a photocopy of the same material deceptively sold to thousands of consumers,” said Suthers. “We are pleased that Morphcorp and MacMaster have agreed to stop making these deceptive claims and pay penalties and fees for misleading consumers.”
  • Under the terms of the settlement, approved by the Court on February 3, 2006, Morphcorp and MacMaster have paid a $30,000 civil penalty and have agreed to significant changes in the way the “Family Yearbooks” are marketed. “Colorado consumer protection law prohibits the use of false and misleading advertising to sell products to unsuspecting consumers,” said Suthers. “Our office is committed to enforcing that law by pursuing companies that violate it, as we have done here.”
Now Ancestry.com is promoting the same scam!

Ancestry.com is now using the same deceptive methods to promote a similar "family history" book which it sells through Amazon.com. If you go to Amazon.com and enter almost any surname and then add a phrase like "name" or "name in history", you will be offered a "customized" book on your family for $29.95. If you choose a relatively popular surname you will likely also find a number of reviews by dissatisfied customers. The books for all families contain the same general information about genealogy along with a few references to the specific family which can be found at Ancestry.com or other common sources. Let the buyer beware!

Here are some other family history scams we've previously reported:

  • About 1997 an individual sent out flyers advertising "The Maberry Family News". To the best of our knowledge, there is no such newsletter and our letters to the individual doing the advertising were never answered.

  • A company called Halbert's operated for many years out of Bath, Ohio, regularly sending out mass mailings to people with a common surname. They promised "a limited Heirloom Edition" book about "your family". This mailing went out to persons named Mabrys at least three times.

    The book has some general articles about genealogy, a few pages of commonly available biographies and the names and addresses of Mabrys taken from telephone directories all over the country. In 1995, responding to many complaints, the United States Postal Service ordered Halberts to cease the false representations used in their advertising. Halbert's was also been ordered to display the following disclaimer on advertising for surname-related publications: "No direct genealogical connection to your family or ancestry is implied or intended.".

    We heard from a number of persons who report receiving Halbert's mailing to Mabrys in 1998 and 1999, advertising a book called "The New World Book of Mabrys". More recently we have heard that Halberts has changed their name and moved from Ohio to another state.

"Authentic Coats of Arms" and "Family Crests"

There are other companies that advertise "authentic coats of arms" for various families. Now there is even a website called "Hall of Names International" which offers coats of arms for various families including "Mabry", "Mayberry", and "Maberry". These, too, are scams, since there is NO authentic coat of arms, crest or shield for the Maybury, Mayberry, Maberry or Mabry family.

  • Beware also of commercial genealogy websites which offer products related to your family name. Genealogy.com, for example, advertises framed "Family Name Histories" and "Family Coats of Arms". Very few of these are authentic (there is NO authentic Mabry coat of arms).




  • May 2008