FTC shuts down multi-million dollar phone scam

What do you say to a group of thieves that steal more than $20 million from tens of thousands of older consumers? The FTC says, “Gotcha!”

The FTC filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop a multi-million dollar cross-border telemarketing operation led by Ari Tietolman. The FTC alleged that phone scammers in the U.S. and Canada pitched bogus fraud protection, legal protection, and pharmaceutical benefit services in a ruse to steal money from unsuspecting seniors. According to the FTC’s complaint, the scammers used scare tactics and outright lies to get consumers’ bank account information. Sometimes the scammers impersonated bankers or government officials and told consumers their accounts were at risk. The FTC alleges that, once the scammers had the bank information, they withdrew money from the victims’ accounts without their knowledge.

A federal judge granted the FTC’s request to halt the scam and freeze the defendants’ assets pending the outcome of the FTC’s lawsuit.

Telemarketing scammers are good at what they do, but you can take action to counter them and help others from becoming a victim:

  • Recognize the signs of telemarketing fraud, like callers who ask for money first or who want to know your bank account, credit card or Social Security number. Share the warning signs with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Report the calls to the FTC. Complaints matter at the FTC; they help drive agency investigations and cases just like the one against First Consumers.
  • Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. You can register online or call toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register. You’ll get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number.
  • Subscribe to our blog for consumer news and scam alerts, and share the information.
Blog Topics: 
Privacy & Identity

Comments

Thanks for this warning. Every scam, deception, and fraudulent information these scammers used is welcome to the consumers. We must be alert to any phone calls and what they asked of us concerning our personal information. Thanks for the info.

They are still at the scam.

Way to go, FTC!!!

I go to the Do Not Call complaint page every time I get a bogus call on my phones ( both registered in the DO NOT CALL data base. More often now it is my cell phone number . I sure hope my efforts to tell the DO Not CALL people are paying off and I get less instead of more calls soon.

I have three numbers on the "do not call" list and I keep getting robot calls. These calls tell me that my credit rating is such that I qualify for reduced credit card rates. How do I get these to stop?

Do not answer the phone for any call that is not in your address book.

Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. You can register online or call toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register. You’ll get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number..IS NO LONGER EFFECTIVE. I VERIFIED MINE IS STILL ACTIVE, BUT USELESS AGAINST ROBO-CALLS. MY VERIZON WILL NOT ACT AGAINST "MULTI-DIAL" CALLERS

Nice going F.T.C. !!!

.., Btw, Up 'til recently, I had'nt been bothered by these scum-calls.., but, last week I received a couple calls from "000-000-0000".., and, just today, I received 3 calls from "732-195-4384"..(??!!). I don't answer uninvited #'s. It sux having to share this beautiful world with bottomfeeders..More power to ya F.T.C. ...(!!)

The Do NOT Call List doesn't stop junk calls! Just give me a way to contact you and I will supply you with dozens of numbers who have called me in violation of the law. The latest come from people who want me to change my power supplier.

I continue to get calls from Jamica, saying I have won money, and asking me to send money in order to get my winnings. Here are a few of the tele#
866-6799649
701-3935811

I CANNOT STOP CALLS FROM UNAVAILABLE CALLER NUMBERS. MOST ARE SCAMMERS TELLING ME I HAVE WON MILLIONS, AND ASKING ME TO GET A "GREENBACK " MONEY CARD AT WALGREENS, CVS DRUG STORE, ETC.

The same scam artists call over and over again, both my home and cell phones. Both have been on the national Do Not Call list since it was introduced several years back. Why don't we have a law which prohibits robo calls? That would go a long way towards shutting down these thieves.

I have signed up for the do not call list every year. It had always worked for me, until 2013, then all the electronics in my house went crazy, especially my cell phone and my computer. I had money taken from my bank account and credit cards. I received calls from people claiming to be a collection agency. I told them I had nothing in collections, and I would not give info like that on the phone... the girl yelled at me and told me they would just come to my house and take the money from me.I hope shutting down the phone scam takes care of this problem for all people.

Good Job FTC! This reassures my faith in you, somewhat.

So is the FTC going to contact the people who assisted in this arrest with all the information provided to them?
What about that persons identity and accounts ? What about irreversible damage ? The complete emotional breakdown of being violated ? Is the FTC going to find damages for that person who never gave up hope & kept informing you?

what I do to get the people off my cell phone and home phone,I'm on do not call list both phone,but they still call, please help

I gave up my land line, went with a phone for my home, though Verizon it is called home connect. It is only 22.99 a month all the call you want to make including out of country calls. I purchased a Panasonic phone with the featured block called in it this way you don't get charged for the service, because of the service through Verizon. I have had this service 4 years now and just love it. I save a bundle of money. Oh, yea you can take this phone anywhere you go on vacations, motels, etc. I use an inverter in my car for regular electricity to plug it into. I thank Wal-Mart has one, I saw advertised, but I am not sure of the name. I also register the phone through the no call, and they finally stopped. Good Luck

I know that some telemarketers are terrible at their job and probably hate what they do. But there are MANY like me. I have done telemarketing for 18years and I am very good at it. I feel your pain with the DNC list. I don't want to call you if you don't want me to. HERE IS A TIP: telemarketers are humans, but when some people believe one phone call ruined their meal, day, morning… and so on, and start talking down to me! No I will not remove you from my list, I will mark you as an answering machine so my dial has someone else call you soon. If I am treated with respect then I reciprocate. I am never rude I simply hang up. This is why people wonder "why won't they take me off the list?" Try having a conversation instead of trying to tell another human what to do. What I'm saying is show some humanity and it will come back to you tenfold!

You're biggest scum to even have the audacity asking for us to talk to you nicely... Nobody has asked or gave you the permission to call ANYONE at ANYTIME with whatever scap you're trying to sell. If I need something I go out and find it myself. Thank god for the smartphones now that we can block every single blocked, and non-blocked number at will and never have to deal with this waste of time ever again. Hope that all the tele-scammers out there are looking for regular decent jobs like most of us have. Peace out!!

countless times, telemarketer, and I still get multiple telemarketing calls a day. Now I just pretend I'm senile and going to get my credit card and waste as much of your time as possible.

Great job FTC. Keep making those arrest.

Got a voice message from someone called Richard Jefferts purporting to be serving papers on behalf of a claimant at 1-866-579-5433. I did not call the number and the name of the party being served does not live at my address. Researching this exact same scam is well known and reported on the internet. I have reported this to the CT State Attorney General.

I was victim of fraud last year for two months and this people took me a lot of money.
Thank you so much.

ok, the scammers goal is making money, right? well, it seems to me that if you waste as much of their time as possible acting genuinely interested in their "product" or "offer", pretend to try to get them the info they want about you but feign forgetfulness or misplaced corrective lenses, then tell them you must go due to some made-up emergency, and ask em to call you back tomorrow, then do same thing to em again if they do call back, eventually they'll realize they cant get any $$ from you, and they'll move on...anyone ever tried that?

Thank goodness for caller ID, these creeps start early in the AM and call until late at night. Sue them for all they are worth to get it to stop! PLEASE!

If you get a call about you have won money and please send this much to claim your prize. Tell them to just take it out of what you have won and send the rest. They never know what to say to that and usually hang up I have not got a call about that in years. :)

I for such a call saying I had won $989,000,000+, all I needed to do was pay the taxes which was $9500. was told it was from Publishers Clearing house. Since I had sent things to PCH I was a sucker and sent the money in cash through Federal Express. there is more to this story but this will give you an idea of the scams out there.

The information says I can print a copy of my registration but all I get printed is the name and logo nothing more to verify the number I want blocked.
How do I solve this?

Someone called me identifying herself as a person who was investigating my grandson's wife on a fraud charge and wanted her phone number. In additon to my number, the lady also had the telephone numbers of several other relatives and also my grandson's wife's imployer number. My grandson's wife said this was a scam, but I don't know why anyone would go to such lenghs to scam someone of very meager means! Is there such a scam? Also, how do I go about removing my name from any telephone list to be called for such reasons?

I understand we have to allow certain robo calls, but I feel they all should be banned. I have tried to trace calls by reverse scan on the internet and come up with a city or cell or landline, but no more info. I get at least 20 calls a month and wish there was an easy way to trap them.

My scammers number is GADS1 404-891-5588. They will cal to ask for small fee to send up to 15,000 for home repairs, student loans, etc. sometimes they don't talk and hang up. They have said they're calling from Utah. Broken English. I have not reported them but will. I've also gotten 3 of the Nigerian lotto scams in different forms in the last month. Very thoughtful of that Emmanuel Fred and the queen of some African nation to think of me!

I am being harassed by repeated, random calls from someone whose phone number is always tagged with JM at the end. He calls at all hours--over 60 times thus far. Various phony offers and different names; always disguises his voice. It's always the same person, and the numbers are phony and can be manufactured for free through Google and other sources. THERE SEEMS TO BE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THAT WE CAN DO TO RID OURSELVES OF THIS NUISANCE! If the FTC does anything, I would like to know how to rouse them!

My scam came by email. I answered an add to get my own web site and make a lot of money by selling on it. They got me and now I'm waiting to see what the FTC's final decision is as to what they will do to them and will I get money back.

I have been receiving calls saying they are with Microsoft and are getting a signal from my computer. I tell them I have an Apple Mac. They don't even know what it is. The man has a very strong accent. He tells me to go to my computer, turn it on, and then he can fix the Microsoft Windows problem. The number I finally got on my caller ID is: 999100100. Today I got a call from this same foreigner and the number that showed up was: 442031298925. Any information on these numbers? Thanks.

i just received another call from these people at 6:30am! last time she told me the same thing and would not give up when i told her the computer was i the basement & no phone there. they most likely are coming from India based on the accent and the time my call was received. Snopes has nothing at this time nor did any site. i don't have caller ID so can't help there but the FTC has the number filed and supposedly shut down. if so, why are the calls still coming?

I get these calls multiple times in a week and have been getting them for over six months. Sometimes I just say that my computer is a work computer and they give up, or I go along with them for a while then ask them to hold and hung up on them. Today I asked if I could call them back and they gave me a number of 209-436-9644 and I called it back and it was the same guy with the heavy India accent...I think I will start calling him daily and harassing him! By the way, the phone number he provided is a Calfornia number and he said his name is Eric. I have filed a complaint with the Do Not Call Dept.

This outfit still exists! I had a call yesterday!!

I have received several calls from GADS1 at 404-891-5588. They claim to represent "Windows" and want to help me clean out my computer virus. I have put them off and they keep calling. I thought they were "out of business" ?
Can I help, 941-966-0084.

Have received several calls from Longview Acquiescence asking for info on daughter,saying she is in big trouble and needs to call 866-846-0337,that they have sealed papers that need to be served. They called her cell phone yesterday,left a threating message. Read online that it is a scam,so don't answer the phone now,and they leave messages saying this is your last warning. The calls are all blocked,so have no idea where or who they are.Please look into this scam.

I have received close to 24 calls in the last two days. I tried reporting it to the FBI but they said to call the FTC. I played along today and was able to get a call back number from the man. I am posting it on Craigslist under free office furniture. I hope they get
a lot of calls!

When you receive a call that you suspect it’s from a scammer, best thing to do is to hang up the phone and file a complaint with the FTC. The more details you give in your complaint the better it is for law enforcement to track these callers. The FTC’s complaint database is available for investigations to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

We have been receiving these calls from JM for nearly three years, telling us of our big winnings, but asking for money before we can get it. So many times we've asked them to stop, but they continue. When we refuse to co-operate, they get angry and even use abusive language, such as "F--- You!" We rarely answer their calls now days, but sometimes the caller I D shows "private caller" or "Unknown caller", then we do answer. One day we listed their calls, and had 111 calls in one day. Very nerve wracking !! What can be done to stop these people ? We have a list of about 30 numbers they call from.

I am so glad to hear you've had a victory!!! Scam activity via phone seems to have really exploded over the past year. We've been plagued by Stonebridge Life for nearly a year, for example, and others, supposedly selling "insurance" and other scams, like fake debt collection. We can typically get a half a dozen supposed "toll free" calls daily. Stonebridge has slowed down for now (I am boycotting JCPenney for life as a result of the harrassment and fraud with which they collude) but others seem to be increasing activity. Today we got one call with a CID with just zeros, another one "private" and then 4 calls in 4 hours from an ostensible New York number (212) 777-3456 that is all over the web for various scams, most commonly bullying to try to get people to let them log onto their computers remotely, claiming to be from Microsoft or other "tech" support, for years. We had to turn off the phone volume so we could have a few hours of peace tonight. I am jobhunting and phone interviewing and these calls are seriously impacting my productivity. Our phones have become vehicles for trespassing and thievery. It is becoming scary. Put them in prison and throw away the keys!!!!

THERE IS A NEW PHONE SCAMMER MAKING CALLS, PLEASE BE WEARY OF 210 NUMBERS, 210-390-0070 & 210-625-3672 ARE THE NUMBERS I HAVE GOTTEN. They claim they are from Pretrial Intervention and tell you there is a warrant for your arrest for unpaid Payday Loans and try to get your personal information. Please spread this around. I have reported them to the FTC again today. When I tell them I have reported them they get nasty and tell me this is not a joke. I have told them several times I am waiting for someone to show up with the warrant, but no one ever shows!! They are a true piece of work and need to be stopped!!

I received a call from someone with a strong Indian/Pakistani Accent. They said that I was eligible for a $twenty Thousand Dollar loan. At the time I was desperate for money. I am on Disability, and my monthly payment is barely enough for me to get by. I must have had a brain fart, because I fell for this scam. They told me that I had to purchase a Green Dot Money Pack in the amount of $220.00 for a "Transfer fee. While I am ashamed that I fell for this, I'll tell you that I did get that card, funded it with the amount they asked for. After that transaction, they again asked for more money for A "Good Faith" payment in the amount of $155.00. I bought another Green Dot Card, and funded that as well. To make this long story shorter, they kept asking for more and more money. By this time I was desperate for money, as i now had less money left in my account than I needed to pay the rent. This scam, and my gullibility, wiped me out, and I had to ask my brother for money to pay the rent, and ask my son for money for food. I was humiliated, but had no choice. I reported this to the FTC. While my rent was paid, and my refrigerator full, I had no cash for an entire month. I take several medications for my disability, and couldn't afford it. Some of the medicine was addicting, and I started to go through withdrawal. I had to write a check for the medicine, even though my checking account did not have the funds to cover the check. I had no choice, beside going to the hospital to relive the withdrawal. The most hurtful thing about this incident, is that I have tarnished my name and trust. The Pharmacy will no longer take a check from me, and perhaps most important, I have embarrassed myself for asking for handouts. And I no longer trust anyone with an accent I can't identify. I have learned a valuable lesson, and if this message helps even just one person, it is worth the time I took to write this.

The calls from the people representing Microsoft Windows are definitely back. I got six calls yesterday. They change their ID numbers constantly. Please FTC, do something about these scammers and robo callers. My number is for emergencies only. This is scary.

Just out of curiosity, are any of you senior citizens? Ever since I got an AARP membership, I started getting about 10 calls a day from telemarketers and scammers. I sent an email to AARP asking who they sell our info to and why. The calls I get all know my name, address and phone number.

dino, it's not aarp. The big three credit agencies sell lists of seniors to anyone.

Just got a call from GADS. I never answer them.
They come directly to my cell, from forwarded calls to my business and home land line. Never open/answer emails from unknown parties. Only look at Tim from either iPhone or iPad.

I also am getting a call from the very telephone number. Since I do not know anyone in that particular code area nor that I ever call to that code, I figured that this call might be a scum and never answered it.

My 80 year old mother is getting phone calls from Jamaica, Idaho, CA & NY. Different numbers every time. Foreign accents. Telling her she has a certified check. Yesterday she got 6 calls in 2 hours.
She in on Do Not Call.

Asked to be put on the do not call list. they keep calling. My wife even told them that we do not have a pc! They keep calling back. how can i block it?
gads1 1-404-891-5588

RE: "DO NOT CALL" list. I am just writing this note to agree with a few others here on this one topic, and that is to say the "LIST" is a joke. I have signed up my home phone I forget how many times, for years, ever since this thing was supposed to be working, and my family has yet to notice ANY decrease in the # of banned call types we signed up to be blocked. The offenders DON'T CARE about the un-enforced threat of a fine or the empty threat of their numbers being nullified. They just continue to do what they do, secure in the knowledge that as long as they don't allow any one of the business names and numbers to get to big, they are safe. The law is toothless.

I don't see anyone writing in to say how great the "Do Not Call" system works. This lack of positive comments is more than likely due to the fact that the "DNC" System doesn't work at all. Not as far as I can tell. I would like to see just ONE message praising the "DNC" system.

I'm using a device, Call Blocker Plus, which blocks up to 140 phone numbers. I've found it to be very effective.

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