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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

the GDS1 "scam" is still going on... I received a call today, 6/28/15

I get a call from US Pharmacy - 2-3 times a day trying to sell me Viagra. I ask them to take me off their list. I block their calls from the numbers they call from. They find new ways around it. It is non-stop. I have had one of the people curse at me and call me an F...-er. It is so aggressive. Any ideas on how to stop them?

Hi, these people have been calling me from the longest. I've blocked every number they called me from. Today they had the audacity to call me from an unknown number, they call me like every other day, When I asked them nicely to remove my number from their calling list they hung up on me and now I just tell them no thank you" and hang up on them. Anyone knows where I can report this people so their annoying calls can stop?

You can report the unwanted calls to ftc.gov/complaint. If you keep answering the phone, even to say 'no thanks' or to tell them to take you off their list, the may keep calling, because they know your number is a working number.

Even if you don't answer, they keep calling. I get at least 5 calls a day from them. I've ignored them, I've asked nicely and I've screamed. Every time they call, they call from a different number. I've been hung up by them, laughed at and called names. US Pharmacy has seriously got to be stopped. They are getting ridiculous with the amount of calls. Being on the no call list doesn't matter and you can't call them back because the numbers they are using aren't even registered working numbers, so reporting them does nothing.

Honestly, reporting the unwanted calls to ftc.gov/complaint is a ridiculous waste of time. Absolutely NOTHING ever happens. Is this what our taxpayer dollars are going to? A worthless FTC that does nothing for the actual public complaints? Read the comments - the public has been reporting these calls from US Pharmacy for YEARS and they are still getting the calls.

Let's start a Trade Embargo against India! All calls are coming from there!!! Contact your State Rep and complain!!!

What a joke! These scammers call me four or five times a day. You sure did a great job of "shutting them down"! Typical government agency, all talk, no action. As long as you have good press releases you can all keep your unaccountable government jobs.

they call me daily for years. I tried many different approaches, anger, humor, serious, customer (not really) etc. It does not work. I blocked what feels like hundreds of #s. Kinda got used to this BS.

US PHARMACY... I get these every day... sometimes 4 times a day... numbers listed, unlisted, and blocked. Please fix this epidemic in our Country.

IOLO System Mechanic fraud. I get calls all the time from people saying they represent IOLO. They are obviously foreign and not knowledgeable. They do attempt to have you download their software for remote access. NEVER LET THEM

Been getting calls from US Pharmacy for over 10 years asking for my deceased father. I've tried everything to get them to stop. Nothing can be done because they are based overseas. We need a good hacker to take down their system. They don't play by the rules, either should we.

next time they call, I'll just act like i'm interested and keep them on the phone for hours. I bet they stop calling me then.

just mess with them.... make then take tons of time explaining their service, ask questions, keep them on the phone for 15+ minutes then make fun of their mom... they will quit calling since they know youre wasting their precious 'scam-time'.

NO CALLS PLEASE! JUST EMAILS AS SOON AS YOU UNDERSTAND THIS MESSAGE. THERE'S A DISCONNECTED PHONE NUMBER 860-955-9148 THAT JUST RANDOMLY CALLED MY CELL PHONE AND DIDN'T LEAVE A MESSAGE. WHENEVER I TRY TO CALL THEM BACK, I'M GETTING NOTHING BUT DEAD AIR AS THE REASON WHY I WANT SOME FEDERAL LAW TO SUE THIS CALLER WHO OWNS A DISCONNECTED PHONE NUMBER 860-955-9148!

My cell phone is registered with do not call i have in my block list! all of these keep calling 201-450-9009 205-319-0909 949-280-6485 there are more but I have to keep changing from my blocked list to this screen which is not easy for me I appologize

Got a call from 404-891-5588 this morning. Did not answer. WHY are these people still calling anyone? My number has been on the Do Not Call List for 5 years but that has not helped much. I get 5-10 telemarketing calls a day which I do not answer. Got a call from a telemarketer one night at 11:30 pm! I do applaud the FTC efforts to stop this particular scam.

Is there a national fraud/robo/scam calls database where numbers can be logged and that can be queried to get statistics on a scam caller. Are others in another part of the country getting calls from the same spammer or are the calls localized? How many calls are being made from a particular number in a day/week/month? What claims are being made (Police/IRS/etc.)? Did this person sound like another caller with a different scam? When did the incident happen (date and time)? Is this a possible spoofed call (DB Query show this possibility)? Essentially what is the profile? This problem is too big for any one person to control. I am currently blocking 41 of 59 numbers. My call blocker can handle over 1000 so if these criminals attempt to spoof the call I have plenty of blocks available so they are just wasting their time.

Consumer Sentinel is the unique investigative cyber tool that provides members of the Consumer Sentinel Network with access to millions of consumer complaints.The Consumer Sentinel Network provides law enforcement members with access to complaints provided directly to the Federal Trade Commission by consumers, as well as providing members with access to complaints shared by data contributors.

Consumer Sentinel is free and available to any federal, state or local law enforcement agency. Consumer Sentinel information is also available to select international law enforcement authorities.

Learn more at the FTC page about Consumer Sentinel.

Thanks for this nice article. I like the post.

Until the FCC starts holding the Tel-Com companies like AT&T and Verizon from making it easy for callers from outside the US to make it look like they are calling from inside the US this will never stop. The Tel-Com companies are making more money off of scammers than off regular customers. it is not in their interest to let the FCC stop anything. They are powerless.

I like your blog. I enjoyed reading your blog. It was amazing. Thanks a lot.

They call my office sometimes two or three times a day! I've tried being nice, being mean, hanging up before they finish their first sentence. Nothing works! Once, I even asked the person on the other end how do I get you to stop calling me??? His response, "You have to make a purchase from me"! I told him I wouldn't be making a purchase, and hung up. I'm at my wits end, so sick of these common criminals harrassing me!

Thanks for sharing this nice article. It have some great use full information.

Sadly the "Do not call registry" does not work. Scammers ignore it and keep calling, even after I've reported them for several years. As for the above article claiming the FTC shut them down... nope, they called again, including today!

I like your blog. I enjoyed reading your blog. It was amazing. Thanks a lot.

US online pharmacy just called me again after I have asked numerous times to be on the do not call list and also after I have put myself on the national do not call list. Everytime I request to be put on this list they hang up on me. I have tried blocking all their numbers but now they are showing up as an unknown caller. This is so annoying, someone help!

You can file a complaint about the calls at donotcall.gov.

I am still getting calls from US Pharmacy multiple times per day with different phone numbers and am frustrated that no US agency has dealt with the issue. Verizon doesnt want to hear about it, the FCC and ATTu General of CA dont want to deal with it and so far the FCC has not stopped these calls. This involves thousands of people in this country if not millions and it very annoying. As a physician it is interfering with the care of my patients. Who and when will deal with this issue or are we condemned to this constant interference in our lives forever?

Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I was getting 15 to 20 calls a day from US pharmacy and I was on do not call list. I registered again and they have reduced to 5 to 7 per day.

Make no mistake the US phone companies like AT&T are part of this scam. If you put the phone numbers on a blocked list they still get thru for 2 or 3 rings before the phone company reacts to block them. The scammers will use numbers from all over the US, Mexico, Canada the UK and even Bermuda. They also use the name online pharmacy Because of this and other costly security breaches I no longer buy anything over the phone and very rarely on line even from valid US companies But I do believe pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid have sold their customers phone numbers to these scammers. They knew the harassment results would keep people from using on line pharmacies and retain their local store as a supplier

The selling of our private numbers needs to come to an end. The government needs to crack down on this an issue and severe consequences when they are caught. All these CEO's that run these companies need to be cut to a salary of no more than 380,000 a year. If you can't make a living off that salary then your living outside your means.

70 numbers and counting associated with these guys that I have blocked after being called daily for two years. Calls have been slightly less frequent of late but I still get them as of January 2016.

I have been getting daily cold calls from US Pharmacy, often several times per day. I have repeatedly asked the caller to stop, but they only seem to be accelerating. The calls have now come from over a dozen different numbers in San Ardo CA, Los Angeles CA, Little Miami OH, Unknown, Cincinnati OH, Coldwater MS, LaGrange IL, Baja CA (Mexico), Spring Valley NY, and more. How in the world do you expect us to file individual complaints every time we receive one of these calls?

I get these calls at least 3 times a day and have been for about 6 months. I've begged and pleaded to these people to take me off the call list and they claim they do. They always start off "this is the online pharmacy. I'm just returning your call like you asked me to". I've never asked any type of pharmacy to call me. Ever. It's nice to the point I literally cuss them out and argue with them. They get pleasure from this. They actually cuss and argue back with me. I've even cussed them and immediately hung up for them to call me right back just to cuss me. I've changed my number. They got it. I've blocked about 40 numbers and they still keep coming. I've had it.

The fraud callers from USA Pharmacy will not stop. 3 years now and up to several calls per day. I've tried everything. Only our government can stop these thieves.

I like your blog. I enjoyed reading your blog. It was amazing. Thanks a lot.

For years they've been calling me and recently started texted me as well....I block these #'s, but they keep calling under new numbers. Cannot believe there is nothing one can do about this!

I like your blog. I enjoyed reading your blog. It was amazing. Thanks a lot.

I'm on the do not call list and I still get calls from U.S. pharmacy early in the morning, drives me crazy. I block their numbers and they use different one every time, and if you call back it's a non working number.

I have reported the US Pharmacy calls I've been getting for about 5 years now to the FTC. It is not shut down! Every day, multiple times a day someone with an Indian accent calls and asked for "Johnny Walker". It literally is about to drive me to a nervous breakdown. It makes me want to change the phone number I've had for over 10 years. While I was in the hospital having surgery my mom answered my phone and accidentally talked to them. Now they call me more! There has to be something that can be done!!!!

I like your blog. I enjoyed reading your blog. It was amazing. Thanks a lot.

(315) 623-0182 is one of their #'s. Usually they hang up as soon as I ask to be removed.

I have blocked over 200 numbers in a year. Now all these calls are starting say "private" so I cannot block them. What I do is hit speaker phone until they hang up. At least I do not have to listen to the phone ring. Also if the one out of 100 are a real person looking for me, they always say "hello"? The scammers say nothing.

They are still calling!7:10 pm. EST. Area code: 404-891-5588

U S Pharmacy, I am sick and tired of getting at least 7 to 10 calls a week from these marketers. I could just scream. They use all different numbers so I only can guess it is them, and 99 % of the time it is. I am on the do not call list. But that makes no difference.

Filing complaints with the FTC is an absolute waste of valuable time. I have filed several in the past, not even so much as a follow-up even as I'm still being harassed on a cell phone. The latest identifies as a robo call from United Life from 407-775-4354. When you actually get a person, as soon as you try to ask them to quit calling... THEY HANG UP... And they are going, going, going... Multiple days of being harassed. Number is valid for call back but they ONLY want to hear "Yes I'm interested" or they hang up. NO HELP FROM FTC, what a friggin joke with our tax dollars.

Can we not get the FBI involved and have this US pharmacy stopped? My goodness, I can't keep paying for minutes on my cell phone unless the government wants to pay for it since they can't stop this.

US Pharmacy doesn't care who they talk to or try to sell to. I've been harassed by them for at least 15 years. They have said they would take me off their list, never did, I have NEVER bought anything from them & tried so many different methods to see if any would stop the calls but they just continue to call. They use different numbers if you somehow report one that gets blocked from the donotcall list (because I've reported too many to count). They use private & out of area numbers. If you do answer, again they don't care WHO they talk to...it could be a child! I've had a teenager answer for me several times-she TOLD them she was under age & they STILL tried to sell her VIAGRA! She told them she was going to get in trouble because they were calling her emergency cell phone, so they said it was ok & kept talking to her, even said talk to your mom if you want any medication & get her credit card!!! I was with her (we had this all planned before she answered & she was actually 19 but she told them she was 13, she sounds 13)....it FLOORED me what these guys were saying to her! I had one week where they called every day & 1 day a few times, so by the 3rd time I answered I was even in tears asking them to PLEASE STOP CALLING??? Needless to say, they didn't since that was about 10 years ago. They aren't human & I really don't even understand what they achieve by harassing people that will never fall for their scam. REALLY-they have been calling my same number for 15+ years & I still haven't given them any money, so why are they wasting MORE time calling me? I don't get these idiots...of course I don't get thieves either but at least move on to a new number-not the same one that you still get a NO from. By the looks of things, they are getting a LOT of NO's...hmmm, so why/how are they still in any kind of "business", maybe that is a better question!?

What do you say to a group of thieves that steal more than $20 million from tens of thousands of older consumers??? = NOTHING April 2016 and I get 20 calls a day from US pharmacy

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