FTC shuts down multi-million dollar phone scam

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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.

Comments

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.

Hey, thank you, Yrdneh!

This group is still at it. Just received a call from them. Guess the FTC didn't get the job finished...

An official-sounding gentleman (pffft) called and left a message stating that he was serving papers, he indicated (as MANY of the scams do, in one way or another) that this was his LAST attempt to contact whomever. This may be a phishing operation to collect information from the unwitting, scared person who immediately calls back a number about a supposed "court case" and "papers" that may be brought to their "place of work," if they cannot be contacted. FORTUNATELY, we know that this is NOT how legitimate operations work. My husband said, "No one is going to WARN you that they are going to serve papers, that this is their final attempt. They just DO. If you are in that kind of trouble."

the BEST thing you can do is NOT ANSWER an unknown number. If it is the Federal Government, they will contact you BY MAIL. GO DOWN IN PERSON to the nearest office and ask what they need. Do NOT call a number.

PLEASE be aware that the Social Security Administration does business via mail. They will NOT call and ask you for your social security number. This is a SCAM, sometimes to re-route benefits to another account. GO TO THE SSA OFFICE and they will BLOCK internet access to your account and FLAG your account. DO IMMEDIATELY if you have fallen victim to these idiots and given out your SS number.

Seems as though some group is making it APPEAR that they are calling from a number located at a Jamaica, NY SS office. If you trace the number, it goes to Jamaica, NY SS office. HOWEVER, they can make (obviously ARE) it LOOK as though that is the number that the call is coming from. It may not be. DO EVERYTHING IN PERSON WITH SSA.

I have received 15 calls in 2 hours today. I kept all the numbers and tried to call them back, all of them are none working numbers. Why isn't there a way these area coded numbers can be deleted by the phone company? There should be a way to make a phone number to be contacted back by anyone. If these idiots can purchase a working phone number, we should be able to call them back. They all need to get a job and stop scamming the elderly.

This SCAM IS NOT shut down, I just received the fifth call this week. I guess the Do-Not-Call list is just a joke or a scam the government is running.

Gads1 is still operational on the number listed above. Definitely not shut down.

I have been getting calls from someone that sounds like they're from India almost everyday for two years. They say they're with US Pharmacy and are trying to sell Viagra and similar meds. They call from all different numbers with area codes through out the USA, and if you don't answer they call unknown. There has been nothing to stop these harassing calls. If anyone has this issue, please respond. I googled it and found a blog of angry Americans about it. Apparently the do not call registry has done nothing.

The same thing every day. They asked what meds I take and that I'd ordered from them. I don't take anything at all so how did that happen?? They told me there in Houston TX. I'll sue them for TCPA if I can find them.

I get calls from US pharmacies up to 4 times a day, almost everyday at all hours, including weekends, for the past 2 years. I am on the do not call list, I have told them repeatedly to stop calling. I have told them I do not participate in scams. One person told me they would continue to call me daily. I have blocked about 20 different numbers on my phone, but they still call, if I do not answer they call back. I have told them that this is harassment, but they do not care. It is frustrating and I want it to stop.

If you're getting telemarketing calls after you registered your telephone number, you can file a complaint at donotcall.gov. You need to know the date of the call and the company’s name or phone number to file a complaint. A telemarketer who disregards the National Do Not Call Registry could be fined up to $16,000 for each call.

Hello Bridget. I have been on donotcall for years. Does that matter to someone calling from India? Not a chance! Unless there was some collaboration with the U.S.and Indian governments to trace these operations in India, what hope do you have to stop these calls? In the case of Rachel of Cardholder services: It was more than one company using that robocall. And the U.S. government did manage to close several of them, but others have taken their place. Most of the calls that I receive from U.S. Pharmacy show on caller ID as a single digit - 1. You cannot even enter that on the donotcall website, because it expects a ten digit number, so it gives an error message. In my experience, any company that calls themselves 'U.S. anything', or 'American anything', is from India. Sorry not to be able to offer a solution.

Nothing to add to your post. Yes, any company calling you with a name such as 'American ....', 'U.S.....' is from India. I remember just before the mortgage crash, all the 'U.S.' companies calling from India. Have stopped seeing the '1' for a phone number. Now, sometimes is just says 'Out of Area'. They have also gone back to using ten digit numbers. Today, caller ID showed the name 'Anderson Nicole'. That was a first.

I keep getting the same calls! I told one that I wasn't a guy and didn't need Viagra he then stated that they had it for women. I hung up. I've cursed at them and hung up the minute I hear the accented voice. I'm on the do not call list but these people don't care! I'm considering just changing my phone number so I can get real phone calls and not lazy idiot scammers.

same thing happening here

I literally just got off the phone with these a-holes who actually threatened to keep calling if I didn't order some of their product. "Just place an order with me, or we will keep calling you for the rest of your miserable life." If anyone finds a way to get at these guys, let me know.

I get emails from them stating there is a warrant for my arrest copy and they working with FTC, bureau of default. They said I'm in violatin of check fraud. There is no address only a state of CO which I have never been to. These emails are very annoying and drive me mad. The calls never stop. Anyone know what is being done about this? Whhy can't these people be found and stopped.

On August 15, 2014, I installed a call blocking system and blocked all but three U.S. area codes, which means 99 percent of the scammers who attempt to ring my phone can't. I was astonished when I saw my call log yesterday morning. Unbelievably, a scammer attempted to call my landline TWENTY-NINE times, beginning in the early evening on the 28th and ending on the morning of the 29th. There was no telephone number or any other caller identification listed. Had I not had a call blocking system, I would have had to turn my phone off for 15 hours! I cannot believe that the telephone companies in cooperation with the government cannot stop this blatant harassment. I also cannot believe that these scams are profitable to the perpetrators. Most senior citizens are not uninformed, gullible, or addled. I am 70 years old, and neither I nor any other senior citizen I know answer these illegal calls.

Calls from 305 761-1213 and 305 921-7709 - that I need to call immediately - my name and social security number is involved in a case and I will be prosecuted.

There is nothing you can do to stop the U.S. pharmacy calls. I have tried everything. Many of the calls can't be blocked, also they use new numbers all the time. Just change your phone number.

BEEN ASKING THEM TO STOP CALLING FOR MONTHS NOW , THEY ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY

thank you

How is it that we can file complaints to the FTC concerning issues that affect consumers. When they have been taken advatage of by bad policies and practices of businesses. However,they require them to settle in judgemen. For wrong doing. But consumers are requierd to file for a refund through FTC?.

They called me today 2/19/2015. Today, they said they were "Windows Technical Support." They said that my computer was infected with viruses and about to crash. They were getting messages sent to them, they said. They needed to take action immediately. It was so lame that I just told them to hang up. So, they did.

I get this call daily also along with the U S pharmacy call to my cell phone. I always tell them if my computer is sending them s message to provided me worth the ip Address it is sending it to and they ask me what is ip address, that when I tell them well ur windows tech support I would hope you would at least know what am ip is and they usually hang up, but someone the threaten to shut my computer down with many viruses.

I got a call from this number on 2/21/2015.

Please please don't be offended at the ones stating they still receive these calls. You are doing a good job and we appreciate it but these crooks just simply switch phone numbers and tactics.

If I am reading the latest article correctly, a 10 million dollar fine and a cease and desist order from future telemarketing scams for stealing over 20 million dollars, then please explain to me why these people are not in jail! Of course they are simply going to relocate and continue scamming people.

I always being register in the Do not call, but I still receive calls from the same company with different numbers. Other times,there is no Id # or name, if they do, I call back but sounds no valid, or the system announce a private number.Other one, my code ID # shows my own cell or home #.The Microsoft calls for technical support keep calling me claiming that I did call them, which I did not. I receive international calls the ID shows local area code, but they are calling overseas. The worse experience is, every time I file a complaint about bad customer services from any public store or business, immediately after, I star receiving, scams or marketing calls that I never solicited. USA should not permit business hire workers from overseas, especially from Caribbean Islas, Banks, or medicine mail providers like CVS, Or business like a Domino's Pizza,as a regular customer for the one near my home, But one time after I have give my credit card, the call sounds like far away and I asked why, the say because the orders receives are locate in Mexico, I live in Miami.. The pizza also did not taste as good Dominos are, and the logos in the box looks like in color but they were some how different..Obviously this pizza was made in the little Haiti according its presentation and taste... We have no place were to report this kind of scam, in South Florida is a lot scam going on, and there is no government control of it.

For problems with businesses in your state, you can contact the state Attorney General and local consumer protection agencies. You can file a complaint about unwanted calls and robocalls at ftc.gov/complaint

I've been getting emails about a bank account with a bank that I don't deal with !!! it's always urgent or something

This is a lie YOU DID NOT SHUT THIS DOWN!!!! Im still getting calls from that same number.

We are relying on a goverment agency to actually do the job they were created for and they are unsuccessful. Either they do not have the technology to stop these scammers, or they simply do not care. My theory is that if they did their job and eliminated the problem they would no longer have such an easy job with good pay and benefits. If all law enforcement and all goverment officials did what they are supposed to do, there would be no need for so many of them and they would have to do actual work like the rest of us. If they purposelly allow certain crimes to continue and keep making new laws that criminalize new things, then they will have job security and the ability to further rape the tax payers who provide their' salaries.

I have received 8 to 9 calls per day for well over six months now. Caller ID says AUTO INSURANCE w/ the #916-347-0717. I am on the DNC list and told them so. I told them to stop. They didn't. They have a press 1 feature to be taken off their list. It doesn't work. I filed a complaint with the FTC. This number shows up on the FTC website as a frequently reported number. I didn't expect immediate action but the calls were increasing. Verizon said they could not block the call and were useless. I called the Office of the Attorney General in my state (NJ) and got a lawyer on the phone. He said it wasn't his area but he would forward the info to their consumer department and they would reach out to me. That was on 3/20/15 (Friday). Today is 3/24 at 7am. I haven't heard from the AG's office yet BUT....I HAVE NOT RECEIVED A CALL FROM THAT NUMBER SINCE THE LAWYER IN THE AG'S OFFICE TOOK MY COMPLAINT. TRY IT!!!!!

This report is dated more than a year ago. How can they claim to have closed these crooks down when I just a call not more than 10 minutes ago.

Please report the call, with as much detail as you can provide, to ftc.gov/complaint so it becomes part of the FTC database that's used by investigators nationwide.

These Gads1 callers offer to remove your number from they're data base but never do and call over and over, I think they are the lowest form of life and told them so with other insults...I suggest folks start calling the FBI ,IC3 ,FCC or what ever it takes to oust these turkeys from bothering us again!

Still calling! Must not have shut them down!

I received a call from GADS1 #404-891-5589 on
May 22, 2015, at 10:52 A.M. Can't these be stopped?!!!!

YOU HAVEN'T STOPPED NOTHING. THIS PAGE IN ITSELF IS A SCAM Mine came up GADS1. They wanted to remove a virus they were monitoring thru my web browser. She was very rude in trying to get me to play along so I gave her hell for 10 minutes and played along. THIS IS A SCAM. DO NOT LET ANYONE HAVE CONTROL OF YOUR COMPUTER LIKE THIS, THEY WILL ROB YOU BLIND.

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