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.

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.

They sure are. They've been calling my house every week day for a week.

YES, they have called us. They are simply switching tactics.

They called me today, 8/26/2014.

they called me today

These phone calls have not stopped, in fact getting at least 2 or 3 a day...wish there were something you can do to stop them. I have registered complaints to no avail...btw, we are on a do not call list and have been registered for years. Phone calls come from all different area codes, including our local area code and local numbers.

Just called me, there still going. I just ask them for an IP address they are monitoring and they hang up

Yes, they just called again with a new number. I can only block 20 numbers with my home phone so I may have to get a new number to stop this. But what really makes me mad is that today they also began 'following' me on Pinterest. I blocked them and told Pinterest they are spammers. Hopefully, they will do something as the FTC hasn't stopped this. I get multiple calls a day at all hours of the night and day. Maybe they get paid by call instead of sales.

Does anyone know any of their physical locations. I will pay them a visit.

I wish I did. They are still calling! I got a super loud whistle.

mumbai india, they call everyday and so i ask them questions

And going and going there calling a number that is not on lol.

they got me with Verizon wireless internet for the home at 59.99 charge and i'm afraid they will try to get 19.99 for 18 months or so they said, aug. 29,2014 how do i go about getting my money back and help putting a stop to these theifs?

They are still doing this- I constantly receive calls from them daily although I am on the DO NOT CALL list and request this every time . It's annoying and totally unacceptable that they can use a phone farm to call US citizens and harass them.

They are still at their game. A man calls us every week and he is selling Viagra Pills or pain medication.

Thank you for sharing your experiences. We can't address complaints that come through the blog comments. Please go to ftc.gov/complaint to report this.

Why can't you do something about this why do we have to go through the harassment how dare they why is it that they are allowed to harass us and we can't harass them I'm tired of it I am outraged the fact that I live in the country and work all my life so they can be allowed to scam people we have the technology find them find them simply find them

I already have and so have many other people but not a single thing has happened. I usually get about 20 calls per week.

I get about 3 calls per day which has persisted for about 1 year now. They call from blocked numbers and different fake numbers. Wish there was a way to hurt their ears over the phone cause nothing else is working.

I get the same call at least 5 times a day. I have blocked the # but it does me no good because they call from a different # everytime.

As of April 13 2015 this number is still calling people and trying the scam. NO reason that this number Really FTC - try harder, take the number out of service along with the scammers

Current technology makes it easy for scammers to fake or “spoof” caller ID information, so the number you see on your phone probably isn’t real. The FTC analyzes complaint data to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns, and is pursuing technology-based solutions to combat illegal calls and practices. The Robocalls information page has details about the FTC’s Robocalls Initiative and a list of some recent cases.

They shut down nothing. They just called me, with the SAME PHONE NUMBER. That laugh at and give the finger to our FTC that does NOTHING to stop this nonsense. The technology exists to STOP these calls, but it is not enforced.

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.

US Pharmacy calls me 4 times a day. It is from a different phone number every time. How can I stop them?

If your number is on the Do Not Call Registry, you can add it at donotcall.gov.

When your number is on the Do Not Call list, a company can call still you if you did business with it recently, or gave it written permission to call you. But if you ask a company not to call you again, it must honor your request.

If your number is on the Do Not Call registry and a company doesn't honor your request to stop calling, you can file a complaint at complaints.donotcall.gov.

And if you get a call that uses a recorded message (not a person) you can file a complaint with the FTC at complaints.donotcall.gov.

You can file a complaint about recorded calls even if your number isn't on the Do Not Call list.

 

You guys ask for information that is impossible to gather. These "Canadian Pharmacy" or "Us Pharmacy" companies mask their phone numbers. Each call comes from a different number (including from your own are code) so it is impossible to know if you are getting a marketer's call. The donotcall list is a joke. The only way to do something for us, the victims, is to find out who is the merchant that charged your credit card. After that, we can send the marines to fix them :-)

I file a complaint with every call received from these low life but the calls keep coming. I keep a record of date/time/phony number used/any name even when I know it is phony. Filing a complaint this often has not gotten rid of them.

The calls are apparently coming from India. So what can we expect a U.S. agency to do to help us? We would need some cooperation from the Indian government side. That means our divided government would have to cooperate with India.

They call me about 2 times per month - ALWAYS a different number. The guy is from India who calls and I ask them every time to stop calling me but the don't - it's infuriating!

I am getting phone calls from them every day from different states up to 3 times s day. Still going on NOT SHUT DOWN

If you’re getting repeated calls from the same number, your phone company may be able to block that number, but first ask whether there’s a fee for this service.

If you’re getting unwanted calls from a lot of different numbers, look into a call blocking solution. There are online call blocking services, call blocking boxes, and smartphone apps that block unwanted calls. Do an online search to look for reviews from experts and other users, and find out whether the service costs money.

I have never had an option to block calls & just had to stop answering my phone. I also don't have a smartphone. Now after being harassed for 15+ years have a phone that has it's own call block on it, however that is only if a number shows up-if it's out of area than I obviously can't block anything. Like just a little while ago from US Pharmacy "out of area" & I tried to get some additional information by being nice & pretending I may actually buy something but it didn't work this time, no other information but at least I did get the company name. Not like that is a big deal because they call enough anyway & have been for too many years & clearly will NEVER stop calling. There will be nothing I can do, just block the numbers I can but they know how to get around it & I've never EVER ordered from them I don't know why they have harassed me for so many years?

You can file a complaint about the company with the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. You can also report the company to your state Attorney General’s office.

They call me 3x a day, every day on my cell phone from all different phone #'s/ states. They introduce themselves as "State Pharmacy" ...... it's takes some of the joy out of one's day. Please end this FTC !!!

You can help law enforcement by reporting the calls at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

WHY? When nothing is being done about it? This report is TWO years old, and I get 4-8 calls PER DAY. I do not have the time or resources to report a problem the FTC is WELL aware of.

COP aka US Pharm doesnt even talk when I do answer now. They just wait and hang up. So they have moved on to crank calling and phone stalking!

These fools keep calling me so I just yell at them in German, Swedish and Russian. Fun but futile. Anyone have a number for them?

we are now getting text messages!!

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.

I have been plagued by "Rachel with Card Holder Services" calling me, when we are on the Do Not Call registry. I am terribly concerned about this particular call because the caller ID showed my home number when it called me at home. I don't know how this company is able to get away with this, but it is very disturbing that it continues. I have filed multiple complaints on the DoNotCall.gov site and am seeing no improvements. I could not even file a complaint on the website because it was the same number. This same company (foreign, b/c I was curious to see who it was)has multiple numbers from which it called. They started out as out of area and slowly became more local and now my own number. How is it that a company is able to modify their number for caller id??

The FTC is not helpful in stopping the robo calls and the DoNotCall Registry also fails to help consumers. I receive 3-5 scammer calls per day. My new tactic is NOT TO ANSWER THE PHONE. I will let all calls go to voice mail and call back only those that are tried and true. Additionally, I also press *60 on my phone and add the scam numbers to my block list. If we all band together and don't answer our phone calls personally,the scammers have no one to speak to other than a voice message. Take that you scammers!

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. ...(!!)

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