Local woman among 60 indicted in $300M telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted seniors

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A San Diego woman is one of 60 defendants indicted in an alleged $300 million nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted scores of senior citizens over the past two decades, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Officials say the defendants defrauded more than 150,000 victims, many of whom were seniors, by calling and claiming to be from magazine companies the victims had existing subscriptions with. The DOJ alleges the defendants offered to reduce the monthly cost of a victim’s existing subscription, but were actually signing him or her up for new subscriptions.

The Department of Justice says the scheme was carried out by a network of dozens of fake magazine sales companies located in the United States and Canada, which operated telemarketing call centers whose employees used “deceptive sales scripts designed to defraud victim consumers by inducing them — through a series of lies and misrepresentations — into making large or repeat payments to the companies.”

Among the defendants is San Diego resident Caitlin Colleen Schlussler, 28, a call center manager and telemarketer, who is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and violating the SCAMS Act, according to the DOJ.

An indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota alleges she was the manager of the Pacific Beach Readers Club’s call center, located in San Diego. Her initial court appearance is Nov. 5.

She’s charged in a case with 42 other defendants who allegedly took more than $300 million from 125,000 victims.

Two other indictments charge 17 other defendants, who collectively took more than $30 million from more than 33,000 victims, the DOJ alleges.

“The thieving greed of fraudsters who target senior citizens knows no bounds,” said FBI Minneapolis Special Agent in Charge Michael Paul. “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.”

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