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.