GREEN BAY—A year ago small businesses all over the state told the FOX6 Investigators they had tried to place ads in the Kids' Directory. "I thought 'Hey! This is a perfect place for us to advertise,'" said Lauren Ashley, owner of YETA (Youth Empowered Through Art) Studios in Milwaukee.
Former customer Mark Harmann, who owns Homestead Animal Farm, thought the same thing. He and his wife paid for an ad during busy fall months.
Those companies, like many others, paid to place an ad in the booklet. The booklets would be distributed all over town.
"As far as I can tell that never happened," Ashley said.
We went around town looking for directories, too, with a list of places the directory's owners -- Kathleen and Harry Belsha -- gave us. We didn't see a single Kids' Directory in any of the stores we went to in Milwaukee.
But we did find that Harry and Kathleen Belsha had been investigated before. In Washington, Arizona, and Wisconsin, court records showed the Belshas owed more than $75,000 to people and businesses around the country. They've been investigated for theft and writing bad checks. In fact, their cleaning companies (Completely Clean, Cathy's Cleaning Crew) have taken people to the cleaners.
When we tried to talk to them for our first story, they ran from us and hid in their garage. Later, their lawyer faxed us these documents, with information about the Kids' Directory (also known as Wisconsin Marketing Resources & Publishing LLC). But they still never provided proof of printing or distribution.
In June 2016 we started getting calls from other consumers, saying they had paid a lot of money to a company called Bright Day Cleaning.
"This has to stop," said Tom Garland, who lives in Green Bay. Garland and his wife Terri say they found Bright Day Cleaning through Home Advisor and hired them to do a deep clean of their home. They paid upfront for the services, but claim the cleaners didn't do what was promised after the first day of cleaning.
"They know what they're doing," Terri Garland said.
When the Garland's tried to cancel the contract, they say they got hung up on. So they filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
"I want to do everything I can to prevent these people from striking again," Tom Garland said.
As it turns out, Harry and Kathleen Belsha are also behind Bright Day Cleaning. They have a new business partner in both the Kids' Directory company and the cleaning company -- a man named Dolph Popp.
The BBB says there are five complaints against the Kids' Directory now. Three were filed in June by small business owners in Madison.
"They've made promises that they haven't kept," BBB Regional Director Susan Bach said. "They have been on our radar for a while."
The BBB has received one complaint about Bright Day Cleaning.
And a lawsuit was recently filed against Bright Day Cleaning by a dentist from Green Bay. He had also hired Bright Day Cleaning to clean his home, but instead cleaners allegedly broke a shelf and brought a sick child to their home.
We wanted to ask the Belshas about their new cleaning company, so we tracked them down at a warehouse in Green Bay. But they refused to answer our questions about claims they are still cheating small businesses.
"Our business is ruined because of you. You. Meghan Dwyer, Meghan Liar," Harry Belsha said.
When we asked if we could just talk about the new cleaning company, he yelled again.
"If you put this on the air, you don't realize how much trouble you are in," Harry Belsha said. "I will destroy you. I will spend the rest of my life making your life miserable. Enjoy it," Harry Belsha said.
Tom Garland, who reported the Belshas to local police, says he hopes law enforcement will eventually hold the Belshas accountable. But police say they have no probable cause to file any criminal charges at this point.
"There's absolutely no consequences, which I find absolutely absurd," Garland said.
The Garlands hired the Belshas and Dolph Popp to clean, remodel, and paint the outside of their home for $11,000. They plan to file a lawsuit, but don't expect their money back.
"They're going around and all they're doing is they're taking advantage of people," Tom Garland said.
After we left their warehouse, the Belshas called FOX6. They say they are just hardworking people trying to earn a living and support their family. They say they have a lot more satisfied customers than unhappy ones, and they can't please everyone.
They claim they do not own the cleaning business, but are mere employees. But when they called police on FOX6 they told officers they own Bright Day Cleaning.
In Popp's emails to FOX6 he referred to himself as the "former office manager of Bright Day Cleaning." When we asked what his actual role in the company was, he didn't reply.
Popp is the registered agent for the Kids' Directory. He emailed us a new list of places where the directory is distributed. The company expanded to Madison in July 2015. We called some of the businesses on the list and some say they have received Kids Directories in the past, but not for a while. Others told us they are waiting to get their money back because they are unhappy with ads they paid to place.
The Belshas say they stopped printing the directories in February 2016.
Home Advisor has removed Bright Day Cleaning from its website.
The BBB says to beware of placing ads in directories. In just the last 12 months, about 50 consumers around the state say they have lost money by advertising in similar booklets.
If you would like to file a complaint against the Belshas or Dolph Popp, you can file a complaint at datcp.wi.gov or you can call the Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128) to request a complaint form by mail.
The BBB is also encouraging consumers to file complaints with them online at https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started. If you would rather file a review of any of these businesses, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.