By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant
A U.S. district court has permanently barred the leader of a multi-million dollar fraud that targeted seniors from all telemarketing activities. The FTC filed suit against Ari Tietolman, alleging that the Defendant established a network of U.S. and Canadian entities to carry out his scam which drew in over $20 million dollars in illicit gains from May of 2011 to December of 2013.
Defendant and his associates cold-called seniors claiming to sell fraud protection, legal protection, and pharmaceutical benefit services. The cost for the defendants’ alleged services ranged from $187 and $397. The telemarketers deceived consumers to obtain their bank account information, sometimes even impersonating government and bank officials.
They then allegedly used the account information to create remote checks drawn on the consumers’ bank accounts, which were deposited into corporate accounts. In this way they were able to debit consumers’ accounts without their permission, in violation of the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.
The defendants’ businesses included First Consumers, LLC, Standard American Marketing, Inc., and PowerPlay Industries LLC. From at least 2009 until 2013, these companies allegedly scammed consumers under several different names, including: Patient Assistance Plus, Legal Eye, and Fraud Watch.
The court found these actions to violate the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, and awarded a judgment of $10,734,255.81 to the FTC, which they estimated to represent the consumer harm. The court also barred Defendant and his corporate entities from all telemarketing activities.
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