60 Charged In Scam That Took $300 Million From Elderly Victims

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60 people have been charged in connection with a phone scam that stole $300 million from more than 150,000 elderly and vulnerable people across the country, the Associated Press reported.

According to the indictment, scammers used a network of fake magazine companies and convinced victims to pay large amounts of money for subscription services, the Associated Press reported. Employees allegedly called victims on the phone and used deceptive tactics to trick them, such as pretending to be a representative from the victim’s existing magazine subscription offering a lower price. (RELATED: Josh Hawley Urges Twitter To Call In FBI To Help Stop Massive Cyberattack)

The victims were then signed up for a new, expensive subscription, leaving them with multiple subscriptions to various fraudulent magazine companies, the indictment alleges according to the report. Once the consumers were desperate to end the multiple subscriptions, some of the scammers allegedly called them offering to end the subscriptions by paying off a nonexistent “outstanding balance” in exchange for a large amount of money.

“Using a tactic like telemarketing magazine sales, these deceitful scam artists bilk hard earned money from their aging victims – leaving so many financially devastated in their retirement years and without recourse for recovery,” FBI special agent Michael Paul said according to the Associated Press.

The operation was the largest elder fraud scheme in the country, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said. According to the indictment, the scam went on for 20 years.

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where fraudsters are willing to take advantage of seniors, who are often trusting and polite,” MacDonald said in a statement. “It’s my hope that this prosecution is a call for vigilance and caution.”

The defendants are charged with a variety of crimes including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and violating the Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams Act of 1994, MacDonald said according to the report.