An alleged multimillion-dollar telemarketing fraud that targeted seniors was the basis of a recent Federal Trade Commission settlement with two individual defendants.
Defendants Mark Ferry and Robert Barczai were part of a scheme that took in almost $11 million over a four-year period, the agency said, by creating a “telemarketing boiler room” in Canada to cold-call seniors offering to sell fraud protection, legal protection, and pharmaceutical benefit services ranging from $187 to $397.
In some instances, the telemarketers got consumers to disclose their bank account information by insinuating they were affiliated with banks or government entities. The defendants then remotely created checks and removed money from their accounts without authorization, depositing the money into United States accounts.
A federal court judge in Pennsylvania halted the telemarketing scam in March 2014, and Ferry and Barczai reached stipulated final orders in January to settle charges of violating both the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The individual defendants agreed to a ban on using remotely created checks drawn on consumers’ accounts, a prohibition on future misrepresentations about goods or services, and are required to obtain consent before debiting a consumer’s account. Ferry and Barczai will also turn over proceeds from the scheme to the FTC found in their personal and corporate accounts of $68,412 and $21,367, respectively.
In other proceedings, the FTC sought default judgments against the business entities used by the defendants and filed a motion for summary judgment against the individual who allegedly controlled the operation.
To read the complaint and the stipulated final orders in FTC v. First Consumers, Inc., click here.
Why it matters: The FTC continues to demonstrate that it will not hesitate to reach across U.S. borders. “Scammers thought they could cover their tracks by operating across borders, but law enforcement caught up with them,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “We’ve shut down their scheme of lying to older people and stealing their money.”