Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Telemarketing Fraud - Outbound Calls

Types of telemarketing calls and other scams can be further broken down for clarification and understanding into two categories relating to the average dollar amount of victim losses per incident.

For our purposes we have chosen a dollar figure threshold of $1000 as the factor separating a perceived crime from being major or minor in nature.

This, sadly, is the first hindrance to deterring these crimes and it has allowed many perpetrators to operate for several years without fear of intervention or reprisals.

Whether an operation collects $100,000 from ten victims, $10,000 from one hundred victims, $1000 from one thousand victims, $100 from ten thousand victims or finally just $10 from one hundred thousand victims, they still manage to steal a cool $1 million dollars, as you will soon see.

Therefore, do not be swayed by this distinction but consider it more a classification process than anything else so that you are not overwhelmed by the total scope of the problem.

Comments from Call Center Workers

Anna, 20, student

The turn-over in workers is so high they give you a prize of one hundred dollars just for getting a friend to stay for one month.

If people knew we were using tight scripts and tried to express sympathy for us, we could not even go off script to sound more genuine and warm.

When they run those dialers too fast, your jaws feel like they could fall off from talking too much.

Jane, 34, Housewife

The script seemed to act like the place you were calling knew you, so I was surprised by a few people screaming at me that they would call the Better Business Bureau on me.

I later found out the sale was inflated from $25 to about $400 and that they start new people on the bad calling lists to test your mettle.

All over Canada offices have been buying these goods making Montreal telemarketing bosses millionaires.

Joanne, installation artist, 42

I phoned for a job at an office selling food boxes which sounded like something people always need. I started sitting in on the other people, which is how they train you in these commission only places. The boss paid fast and a straight 25% of every sale.

He prided himself on taking a young girl from a lower-middle class background who was working at a fast-food place and retraining her to earn $50,000 a year. Her earnings dipped sharply on their last project, selling bonds, because people do not like to buy bonds from a young sounding voice.

The food vouchers were something I could understand though I saw through the three prizes offered - $50,000 cash, a new convertible, or a sports boat.

I worked there a few days then I saw the food vouchers were not neatly printed sheets of discount coupons as I imagined. One worker sat clipping coupons from magazines! Amazing!

Samantha, 48, housewife

It bothers me that people think all people working in Montreal telemarketing are bad.

For example, I worked a few years ago at a children's charity which had a name very close to a real famous children's charity. Except that it wasn't the real thing, and there's the rub.

Every last one of us believed heart and soul in that charity and pushed to get in as much money as we could. The money requested did not seem big enough to be a scam office.

The telemarketing companies we hear about in the media are dealing in thousands of dollars per sale not tens.

We called lists the boss gave us and people always gave. I am sure they spent as little as possible on the children's festival or parade or picnic or whatever annual event gave them a long time to gather the money.

I felt good doing this job at first but became suspicious when they never gave tax receipts or accepted offers of volunteer workers at the event.

Dan, 24, student

I worked in magazines for a while. It seemed really easy to sell because of all the prizes attached to it though I wondered about the prizes.

The four year subscription thing also got to me because I found out there is no such thing as a four year subscription.

Both the buyer and I assumed that three or four bucks would be coming off the credit cards on a weekly basis, but no. They hit you with $1000 Canadian or about $650 US right away.

I left and about a year later I applied for a job at a low interest card place in the same building. It was spooky seeing the same guys running this place that had been running the magazine place. They would sure know who was having credit card troubles!

Prizes really help to make a sale and the leads were good at that office.

John, 38, ex-business owner

I work in travel sales. It is a high-ticket sale and only on commission. I am good at this, because you don't last in commission sales unless you are good. We only deal in Visa and MasterCard.

We have a very long script, and we can take our time on every customer, I like that. You paint a beautiful picture in their minds of the quality hotel accommodation in Florida, and then the cruise trip of a day or two with endless luxurious food and drink.

The name of the hotel is a very famous one. They have 1-800 hotlines and I am sure if there was anything wrong they would stop these affiliates in Montreal from selling these tours.

You get the husband and wife thing a lot, which all salespeople watch out for, because you work on one so long, then the other comes along and just cancels it in a second.

I like to tackle the issue immediately, and talk to both of them with the wife listening on the extension phone.

Sometimes I feel like am wrestling a big fish onto the deck and you just have to tug and tug to get that sale. I am paid on percentage and work regular hours. What I make is for me to know and you to find out.

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