Did you ever wonder who is behind the telemarketing calls you get? Think north of the U.S. border. Think Canadians in many cases.
This isn’t a secret, and it’s been going on for awhile. I interviewed a Canadian scammer years ago and listened as he bragged about how he used his cell phone to prey on older people in the U.S. He told me he often worked with other colleagues operating out of boiler rooms and they were all so good that it was difficult for law enforcement officials to trace them.
Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says the commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have cracked a multimillion dollar fraud protection scam headquartered in Canada. And that’s a big deal.
At the FTC’s request, a federal district judge in Pennsylvania issued a preliminary injunction against a network of companies linked to a Canadian boiler room.
The scheme started with those annoying phone calls. Canadian telemarketers cold-called tens of thousands of older people and claimed to offer fraud protection, legal protection, and pharmaceutical benefit services. The cost for the alleged services ranged between $187 and $397.
In some instances, they falsely claimed to be government officials or bank officials and convinced people to disclose confidential bank account information. They frequently took more money than people authorized for nonexistent or worthless services. And they made a lot of money.
The FTC says the scammers took in $20 million dollars between May 2011 and December 2013. The federal complaint says Canadian Ari Tietolman, the alleged leader of the telemarketing scheme, and his associates processed the money through a network of U.S. and Canadian companies.
After the Canadians made the calls and got the information, checks were drawn remotely from consumers’ accounts. Then the money was deposited in accounts in the U.S. and ultimately transferred to accounts controlled by the Canadians.
The FTC says American players in the alleged scheme are Marc Ferry, Charles Borie, and Robert Barczaia.
Jessica Rich, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “The defendants’ conduct in this case was simply outrageous.”
First Consumers LLC, Standard American Marketing, Inc., PowerPlay Industries LLC, Patient Assistance Plus, Legal Eye, and Fraud Watch are the companies involved, according to the FTC.