Federal and state officials have brought criminal charges against dozens of people whom they accuse of bombarding senior citizens with unsolicited telephone calls intended to coerce money from them. Authorities have charged defendants for operating a huge magazine-subscription scam that targets senior citizens and collected more than $300 million from consumers for these unwanted subscriptions.
According to officials, the magazine-subscription elder fraud scheme has harmed more than 150,000 people nationwide. Some victims paid for unwanted subscriptions for years. Most of the magazines purchased were never even received, according to officials.
How the scam worked
According to court filings, here’s how the subscription scam worked: Call centers place calls to senior citizens offering to discount magazine subscription renewals. However, the defendants were not actually offering discounts or even renewals. They were duping people into new magazine subscriptions that “which they did not want and often could not afford”. Defendants shared “lead lists” with each other, containing the names and numbers of victims. Consequently, some consumers received calls from multiple defendants and were coerced into unwanted subscriptions multiple times by different defendants.
Payment-Reduction Scams also Target Senior Citizens
Fraudsters also bombard senior citizen consumers with phone calls and dupe them into paying high fees for so-called “payment reduction” services. These frauds start with consumers receiving telephone calls where they are told that they owe large outstanding debts on magazine subscription accounts. The fraudsters offer to reduce the amount of the debt for a one-time payment. In one instance, officials claim that a wiretap shows that, a fraudster told a senior citizen that they owed 1,100 to the “Family Readers Club” but that she could pay a one-time payment of $499 to eliminate the supposed debt. The consumer refused to pay and ended the call. Minutes later the defendant called back and left a threatening message intended to coerce the consumer into paying substantial monies for a bogus debt.
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If you or a family member have been a victim of Telemarketing Fraud, then contact our experienced consumer protection attorneys for assistance.