Operations and Task Forces
to Combat Fraud
Telemarketing Fraud Task Forces generally utilize a police/prosecutor
team approach to attack multi-offender, multi-offense, multi-jurisdictional
criminal organizations. The goal of the teams is to dismantle these
organizations through effective prosecution and civil, administrative,
and regulatory sanctions where appropriate. This requires coordination
with a number of law enforcement agencies and other executive branch
Each case involves detailed investigative planning using a "task
force" approach, producing complex charging documents followed
by intensive pre-trial motion activity, which may result in parallel
litigation for civil remedies, all of which must be coordinated
by the handling prosecutor.
Bi-National Database and Tape Library
A joint project with the National Association of Attorneys General,
in cooperation with CanShare and PhoneBusters of Canada, Consumer
Sentinel was launched in December 1997. Consumer Sentinel is a
bi-national, multi-state computerized consumer fraud database that
uses the Internet to provide secure access to over 150,000 consumer
complaints for almost 150 law enforcement organizations across
the United States and Canada.
The Commission and other law enforcement agencies have taken advantage
of the fact that many older consumers are eager to help combat
fraud. In an effort that began several years ago with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation and several state Attorneys General, many
older consumers, whose names had found their way onto lists used
by fraudulent telemarketers, have agreed to tape record telemarketing
calls they receive or to turn over their old telephone numbers
so that undercover investigators can tape the telemarketers’ pitches.
When a law enforcement agency receives a tape of a telemarketer,
the agency notes that a tape of the encounter is available and
shares that information with other law enforcers through a program
known as the National Tape Library. Through the Commission’s Consumer
Sentinel database, the index of the National Tape Library is
now accessible by means of the Internet to authorized law enforcement
agencies, making it significantly easier for consumer protection
agencies to learn of and share this incredibly valuable evidence.
The tapes prove invaluable in court, where the accused can easily
challenge the memories of duped consumers, many of whom are senior
Australia's version of the FTC - the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission - has had access to Consumer Sentinel data
for some time, but now other Australian law enforcement agencies
have been given broader access to verify fraud reports in their
own jurisdictions, find corroborating reports and witnesses, and
prioritize their investigative efforts based on the extent of a
Operation Disconnect, announced on March 4, 1993, was the first
nationwide undercover operation that the FBI conducted
against telemarketing fraud.
In Operation Disconnect, FBI undercover
agents pretended to sell a machine that would enable fraudulent
telemarketers to dial as many as 12,000 calls per hour. Such a
machine would have vastly increased the ability of telemarketing
schemes to contact large numbers of prospective victims.
By persuading the fraudulent telemarketers that in order to best
help them they needed to know exactly how they conducted their
telemarketing businesses, including specific information about
their most successful telemarketing techniques, the undercover
agents were able to obtain many damaging and revealing admissions
from the telemarketers about the fraudulent and criminal nature
of their business activities. As a result of Operation Disconnect,
several hundred fraudulent telemarketers were successfully prosecuted,
in some cases receiving prison sentences as high as ten years.
Operation Senior Sentinel
Operation Senior Sentinel, announced on December 7, 1995, was
the second —and to date, the largest —nationwide undercover
operation directed at telemarketing fraud by the U.S. Department
In Operation Senior Sentinel, federal agents and investigators,
who had taken over the telephone numbers of people who had been
repeatedly victimized by telemarketing schemes (or established
undercover identities as victims), tape-recorded thousands of fraudulent
and deceptive solicitations.
Phone calls from telemarketers were transferred to specially trained
volunteers from the AARP, or, in some cases,
to law enforcement agents or retired FBI agents,
who played the role of the intended recipient.
Thousands of fraudulent sales pitches were recorded and eventually
placed in the national tape library for use in telemarketing fraud
investigations. These were of incalculable value in determining
which schemes most warranted criminal investigation and in providing
evidence for search warrants and criminal indictments.
To date, Operation Senior Sentinel has resulted in approximately
1,000 fraudulent telemarketers being charged with a variety of
Operation Busy Signal
Guilty pleas to racketeering and conspiracy charges were accepted
from John A. Field III, who was the U.S.
Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia between 1972
and 1977 and former Director of Enforcement for the Commodities
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Co-accused Marcus K. Dalton of Colts Neck, N.J., was one of the
nation’s most prolific creators and marketers of securities
fraud schemes. He admitted responsibility for selling or promoting
at least $80 million in fraudulent securities, including shares
in phony wireless cable operations, bridge loans to finance a wireless
venture in America Samoa and fraudulent shares in Treasure Chest
television, a children’s television programming investment,
all of which he knew were not viable.
The charges capped a carefully planned operation in which the
Government’s cooperating witnesses, including Dalton, convinced
telemarketers with whom they had worked previously to sell investments
in a fictitious foreign currency fund.
The fund, with an accompanying prospectus, earnings history and
slick marketing folder, was created by agents of the FBI and
inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in coordination
with assistant U.S. attorneys in Newark.
In the undercover operation, the Government employed retired agents
of the FBI and Postal Service, as well as
volunteers from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP),
to pose as willing investors.
The cooperating witnesses fed the names, addresses and phone numbers
of these "investors" to the boiler room operators with
the explanation that they had obtained the names from a government
list of people who had recently cashed-in U.S. Treasury bills.
The fund was made to appear as though it were created and managed
by the United Currency Exchange, a fictitious company based in
Princeton that was actually run by federal agents. Nine telemarketers
and one boiler room "wholesaler" agreed to sell the fraudulent
fund for an undisclosed sales commission of at least 40%.
UNEX 2100 would also supposedly engage in riskier trading practices
than that disclosed in its brochure. The principals of United (
Feds ) told the telemarketers they would divide any additional,
undisclosed profits that the fund earned as a result of this riskier
trading. The fund - and ultimately its investors - would absorb
any losses resulting from the riskier trading.
Regardless of how UNEX 2100 "performed",
United would send each investor an account statement that falsely
represented that the fund had returned approximately 7 % in the
The cons were told that UNEX 2100 would
cease operations after six months, in an attempt to prevent scrutiny
by securities regulators, and that United would maintain all documents
offshore in an attempt to rule out possible future investigations
by securities regulators.
Some of the telemarketers even agreed to have their undisclosed
sales commissions wired to money-market accounts that they believed
were maintained offshore at a major international investment firm.
The Feds provided these telemarketers with debit cards with which
they could access the money in their accounts, at least until their
Task Force Sweeps
Protection and Enforcement Network - Provides
information on consumer protection laws in thirteen countries
and offer consumers a way to file complaints online at www.econsumer.gov .
Ontario Strategic Partnership
The FTC, the Toronto Police Service, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer
and Business Services, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the
Ontario Provincial Police and the Competition Bureau of Industry
Canada formed the Ontario Strategic Partnership to work together
and combat cross-border fraud.
Each agency pledged to provide resources to this common enterprise
and to work together supporting each other’s cases.
Participants in Task Force Operations
Palm Beach Sheriffs
Broward County Telemarketing Task Force
Central Florida Bank Fraud Workgroup
Central Florida Criminal Justice Council
Central Florida Fraud and Forgery Task Force
Duval Area Telemarketing Task Force
Hillsborough State Attorney Telemarketing Task Force
International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts
National Association of Attorneys General Pyramid Scheme Workgroup
Orange County Telemarketing Fraud Prevention Task Force
STOP Telemarketing Fraud
Society of Certified Criminal Analysts
Strike Force Against Fraudulent Enterprises (S.A.F.E.)
National Association of Bunco Investigators
Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association
on telemarketing fraud) Baltimore
Out Job Fraud"
and media-related investment scams)
solicitation of charitable donations)
marketing of "how to" guides)
promotions/ prepaid subscriptions)
ID ? Bad Idea"
new ID scams)
Trade Name Games"
direct mail schemes)
Operation Missed Fortune,
a federal-state crackdown, resulted in more than 75 law enforcement
actions against get-rich-quick self-employment schemes. A national
consumer education campaign was launched in conjunction with
the sweep, including an investor alert, a consumer alert, a tip
sheet, and five brochures.
Invention related crackdowns included one firm that had sold over
$90 million in fraudulent services and of the fraudulent direct
mail schemes, one firm used over 200 different business names and
bilked consumers out of $100 million a year.
09/02 - More than 30 consumer-credit consulting
companies have been targeted in a nationwide Federal Trade Commission
sweep against credit and telemarketing fraud. The FTC action, dubbed Operation
No Credit, targeted a wide range of fraud allegations
involving credit-repair services, payday-loan companies, debt-
adjustment programs and advance-fee credit cards.
The FTC periodically surfs the internet for offenders. One morning
in just three hours they found over 500 web sites or newsgroup
messages promoting apparent pyramid schemes. The Commission’s
staff e-mailed a warning message to the individuals or companies
that had posted these solicitations, explaining that pyramid schemes
violate federal and state law and providing a link back to them
at www.ftc.gov for
Reverse Boiler Rooms
To educate potential victims FTC staff have
participated in "reverse boiler rooms" coordinated by
the AARP and various Attorney Generals. The
reverse boiler room is a means of providing consumer education
to persons whose names appear on "lead" or "mooch" lists
and therefore are particularly likely to be contacted by fraudulent
The volunteers in a reverse boiler-room call consumers on the
lists, talk with them about the risks of telemarketing fraud, and
inform them that their names and telephone numbers are circulating
among boiler-room scam artists.
Over a four-hour period one evening, 40 volunteers placed a total
of 1,859 calls to Vermonters 65 years of age and older to warn
them of the dangers of telemarketing, mail, and door-to-door fraud..
Of that number, 1,043 involved a successful contact with the consumer;
in the remainder of calls, there was no answer, the listing was
incorrect, or the consumer declined to speak with the volunteer.
In addition, over 500 packets of information on how to keep from
becoming a victim of fraud were mailed. The calls were placed from
the National Life Insurance Company and the University of Vermont.
Scammed By The SEC
01/30/02 - Seeking to warn speculators who are too quick to leap
at questionable investment opportunities touted online, the SEC
launched a series of Web sites promoting bogus companies.
The first of the SEC's fake stock scam sites, Mcwhortle.com, went
live earlier this month and was accompanied by a bogus press release
that went out over PR Newswire.
Mcwhortle.com purports to be the Web site for McWhortle Enterprises
Inc. - a fake company claiming to have invented a miracle biohazard
detector. The Web site promises massive stock gains and says that
the SEC had "pre-approved" the company's initial public
The bogus investment site got 150,000 hits in three days but when
would-be investors attempted to pump money into the fake stock,
they were directed to a page bearing the warning: "if you
responded to an investment idea like this, you could get scammed."
The SEC does not pre-approve IPOs.
North Carolina Telemarketing Fraud Enforcement Project
North Carolina Department of Justice/Office of the Attorney General
114 Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC 27602
The North Carolina Office of the Attorney General (NCOAG) Consumer
Protection Section will hire an investigator to expand prosecution
of fraudulent telemarketing companies. In addition, funds will
be used to educate the public and key industries on how to identify
and stop telemarketing fraud. The specific goals of the project
are as follows: (1) increase investigation and dissemination of
information obtained by the NCOAG to other law enforcement agencies,
particularly agencies with criminal enforcement authority; (2)
develop telephone lines to facilitate criminal prosecutions in
state and federal courts; (3) increase availability of written
materials and speakers for the business community and the public;
(4) identify and educate key industries on methods to identify
scams; and (5) train volunteers to continue these functions after
the grant expires.
Operation Tough Call
California Department of Corporations
320 West 4th Street Street, Suite 750
Los Angeles, CA 90013-1105
The CDC will establish a command post and clearinghouse including
a task force of local, state, and federal law enforcement and regulatory
agencies to coordinate and consolidate investigations and enforcement
actions against illegal and fraudulent telemarketing activity.
Currently, the CDC does not have a central repository for information
gathering and sharing with other agencies to address telemarketing
fraud. The task force will establish a central office to coordinate
the following activities: identify potential targets; maintain
a database on the targets; identify and enlist the help of potential
victims; conduct public education and training, infiltrate illegal
telemarketing fraud operations; facilitate and coordinate investigation
and enforcement actions; and provide training to law enforcement,
prosecutors, and regulators.
Telemarketing Fraud Demonstration Site
Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs
Barry W. Reid
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
Atlanta, GA 30334
A Georgia Telemarketing Fraud Task Force will be created to increase
state and local criminal law enforcement against fraudulent telemarketing
practices in Georgia. The team members will include the Georgia
Office of the Attorney General, the Governor’s Office of
Consumer Affairs (OCA), and the Georgia Office of the Secretary
of the State (SOS).
Each task force member is committed to some or all of the components
of the demonstration site - investigation, prosecution, or prevention.
The specific goals of the project are as follows: (1) reduce the
number of fraudulent telemarketing operations in Georgia, (2) criminally
prosecute subjects involved in illegal operations, (3) provide
training at state wide police academies to instruct local law enforcement
officers regarding identifying and investigating telemarketing
operations, and (4) provide instruction and information to potential
victims of fraudulent telemarketing scams to prevent citizens from
Telemarketing Fraud Taskforce
Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office
800 East Kennedy Boulevard, 3rd Floor
Tampa, FL 33602
The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office will establish
a Task Force comprised of the following state and local agencies:
the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, the Florida
Department of Banking and Finance West Central Region, the Office
of Statewide Prosecution, the Florida Office of the Attorney General,
the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Department
of Insurance, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services, and the Bay Area Legal Services. The Task Force will
specifically target telemarketing fraud against the elderly and
coordinate and integrate investigative and intelligence resources
to increase overall expertise of the group and effectively manage
telemarketing fraud cases.
National White Collar Crime Center (NWCCC)
Telemarketing Fraud Enforcement Task Force
West Virginia Office of the State Auditor
Building 1, Room W-100
Charleston, WV 25305
NWCCC will continue to work with the Telemarketing Fraud Task
Force and will support the development of a high quality training
program focusing on jointly training state and local investigators
in the complex issues involving fraudulent telemarketing activities.
NWCCC participated on the task force project advisory committee
as a representative of state and local investigators, participated
in the selection process of the demonstration sites, and developed
a needs assessment to be used to assist in the identification of
potential recipients of training.
In addition, APRI and NWCCC developed a needs assessment survey
to ascertain the specific needs of local prosecutors surrounding
telemarketing fraud. The information gained from the Telemarketing
Task Force will be compiled into a comprehensive final report.
The National White Collar Crime Center provides a national support
system for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of economic
crimes. These multi-jurisdictional white collar crimes include
investment fraud, telemarketing fraud, boiler-room operations,
securities fraud, commodities fraud, and advanced-fee loan schemes.
The Center's mission also includes providing investigative support
services to assist in the fight against economic crime, operating
a national training and research institute focusing on economic
crime, developing partnerships with public and private agencies
to address economic crime issues, and developing the Center as
a national resource in combating economic crime.
National Fraud Information Center
The National Fraud Information Center's purpose is to fight the
growing menace of telemarketing fraud by improving prevention and
National White Collar Crime Center Partnership
with the National Fraud Information Center
West Virginia Office of the State Auditor
Building 1, Room W-100
Charleston, WV 25305
NWCCC provides a national support system for the prevention, investigation,
and prosecution of economic crimes. The National Fraud Information
Center (NFIC), a project of the National Consumers League, has
been providing valuable assistance to the public and to law enforcement
agencies in the fight against telemarketing fraud since 1992. Consumers'
fraud reports are transmitted daily by the NFIC to a database jointly
maintained by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association
of Attorneys General. The database is accessible to law enforcement
agencies seeking specific information.
NWCCC and NFIC will form a partnership to meet the following goals:
(1) increase the number of agencies served by the NFIC by 25% by
the end of the grant period, (2) design and conduct service needs
assessment for agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution
of telemarketing fraud, and (3) develop a training program in video
format with related print materials.
NFIC and NWCCC will work together in the training of telemarketing
fraud investigators and prosecutors in the Telemarketing Fraud
Enforcement Task Force Targeting the Elderly Project. NFIC will
serve as a consultant in developing training programs and materials.
In addition, NFIC will provide insight about the most common types
of telemarketing fraud reported by consumers, the tactics fraudulent
operations use to lure their victims, and the methods of payment
and means of transmitting payment.
Telemarketing Fraud Enforcement Project
National Association of Attorneys General
750 S Street, NE, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20002
NAAG convenes and coordinates the work of the Telemarketing Fraud
Training Task Force, a multi-agency committee charged with coordinating
the planning and provision of criminal law training to state attorneys
general, district attorneys and investigators. The Task Force includes:
the American Prosecutor’s Research Institute, NAAG, the National
White Collar Crime Center, and the American Association of Retired
Persons. NAAG works with the task force to train and assist the
ongoing network of state and local investigators and prosecutors
to continue to initiate telemarketing fraud and to bring criminal
The project’s goals are to (1) continue to broaden criminal
and civil enforcement efforts by increasing the numbers of state
and local telemarketing prosecutions against both companies and
individuals, (2) coordinate state wide and local investigations
and prosecutions, and (3) enhance technical and case preparation
assistance for state and local prosecutors. In addition, NAAG works
on increasing cross-border cooperation between U.S. and Canadian
law enforcement to reduce the cross-border flow of telemarketing
fraud and to consolidate gains make in domestic enforcement of
Telemarketing Fraud Enforcement: A Prosecutor's Response
American Prosecutors Research Institute
99 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 510
Alexandria, VA 22314
As part of the Telemarketing Fraud Training Task Force, a multi
agency committee led by the National Association of Attorneys General,
APRI assists in the development of a high quality training program
focusing on jointly training state and local investigators and
prosecutors in the complex issues involving fraudulent telemarketing
activities. APRI has (1) revised the current training manual, including
a section on Internet fraud; (2) conducted training courses on
the topics of telemarketing fraud and Internet fraud; (3) assisted
BJA in the selection of three demonstration sites; and (4) developed
an interdisciplinary approach with AARP in promoting senior fraud
prevention programs to prosecutors.
Under Public Law 106-534 Congress enacted the "Protecting
Seniors From Fraud Act" which financially supports,
to the tune of $1,000,000 per year from 2001-2005, the awareness
and research efforts of the TRIAD Program which was initially
sponsored by the National Sheriffs Association, International
Association of Chiefs of Police, AARP and others to reduce the
criminal victimization of the elderly.
The National Association of Triads, Inc (NATI) is a tax exempt
affiliate of the National Sheriffs Association and acts as an umbrella
organization offering support to the 775 Triads which have been
established around the world.
Operation Fraudstop has produced a three part roll call training
video for police officials which is available at the $6.95 cost
price from NATI, 1450 Duke St., Alexandria, Virginia 22314 703-836-7827.
Telemarketing Fraud: Prevention and Education
American Association of Retired People Foundation
PO Box 51040-RSG
Washington, DC 20091
As part of the Telemarketing Fraud Training Task Force, a multi-agency
committee led by the National Association of Attorneys General
(NAAG), the American Association of Retired Persons Foundation
(AARP) works to provide education and training to state and local
investigators and prosecutors and other related professionals on
telemarketing fraud. The purpose of the training is to prevent
and effectively combat telemarketing fraud, particularly schemes
targeting the elderly - a disproportionately affected group - by
expanding public and law enforcement professional education and
broadening the number of enforcement efforts thereby increasing
the number of prosecutions and reducing the amount of consumer
Telemarketing Fraud Enforcement
Vermont Office of the Attorney
William E. Griffin
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609
The Vermont Office of the Attorney General (VOAG) will increase
case referrals and decrease susceptibility to telemarketing fraud
through community outreach and education. Volunteers and senior
advocates will be trained and will train others to recognize possible
telemarketing fraud activity and will screen and refer cases to
the VOAG for investigation and possible prosecution.
The national and international strategy is to enhance United States
and Canadian efforts to stem fraudulent telemarketing through criminal
prosecutions of, or notices of possible civil violations to, list
brokers who support the fraudulent activity and through serving
as a liaison between Canadian prosecutors and Unites States Offices
of the Attorney General. The specific goals of the project are
as follows: (1) to increase the number of telemarketing fraud cases
that are identified, investigated, and prosecuted; (2) to decrease
the effectiveness of fraudulent telemarketers in the future; and
(3) to enhance Canadian efforts to prosecute fraudulent telemarketers.
Vermont's Efforts to Coordinate Support
The Office of the Vermont Attorney General has developed a two-tier
approach to combating telemarketing fraud and other scams directed
at the elderly. One tier takes place on state and local levels
and focuses on aggressive case identification, investigation, criminal
prosecution and prevention.
The other is national/cross-border in nature and focuses on coordinating
support for criminal prosecutions in Canada, and on decreasing
the number of American companies that provide assistance to fraudulent
This Telemarketing Fraud Project will be part of the Consumer
Protection Unit of the Public Protection Division of the Vermont
Attorney General's Office.
The national and international strategy is to enhance United States
and Canadian efforts to stem fraudulent telemarketing through criminal
prosecutions of, or notices of possible civil violations to, list
brokers who support the fraudulent activity, and hope to provide
assistance to Canadian prosecutors of telemarketing fraud by serving
as a liaison to victims, law enforcement and offices of State Attorneys
General in the United States.
Such coordination is extremely important. Victim testimony must
normally be presented in person in the Canadian courts, and many
of the victims reside in the United States. Consequently state
offices of the attorney general can play a crucial role in locating,
interviewing, and helping to transport these witnesses to Canada.
Rather than requiring Canadian authorities on their own to navigate
a largely unfamiliar network of fifty state offices, a coordinator
in a single state can work with Canadian authorities to identify
the appropriate contact people in each state, motivate colleagues
in other states to devote resources to supporting Canadian prosecutions,
and periodically share investigative protocols and experiences
with all state offices of attorney general.
Such assistance often takes the form of gathering information
from U.S.-based victims, and making those victims available to
testify in Canada. At present, there is no person at the state
or national level who is charged with this coordinating function,
although Vermont, with very limited resources, is serving that
function in one current Canadian prosecution.
An important factor in considering jurisdiction is the comparative
ease of extradition from Canada by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Should federal court be the more appropriate jurisdiction, the
U.S. Attorney has cross-deputized an Assistant Attorney General
to co-counsel the case in federal court.
The other cross-border responsibility of the attorney would be
to work with Canadian and United States authorities to develop
civil cases against companies based in the United States that provide
substantial assistance to Canadian telemarketers.
The major source of consumer information for those who create ‘mooch
lists’ for fraudulent telemarketers is mail and phone surveys
and sweepstakes/contest entry forms received in the mail. The
second major source of consumer information used by telemarketing
criminals is the contest entry boxes that are found at many fairs,
carnivals, craft shows, car and home shows, etc.
At a meeting in mid-1998 between members of "Project Colt" in
Montreal (the Quebec telemarketing strike force) and representatives
of state offices of the attorney general, the Project leadership
expressed its belief that a major blow would be dealt to cross-border
fraud through an effective campaign in the courts mounted against
the United States list brokers that provide names of potential
victims to Canadian telemarketers. There is already interest at
the FTC staff level in pursuing such firms civilly in the United
Specifically, a grant-funded attorney would work on identifying
list brokers that do business with Canadian telemarketers, utilizing
industry, consumer group and law enforcement sources to develop
this information. The attorney would organize other state offices
of the attorney general, using the now well-established multi-state
approach, to investigate the activities of known list brokers and
to determine whether cases could be made out, on the basis of existing
evidence, for violations of the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule
and state consumer protection statutes.
If so, cases would be filed by those states willing to do so,
on the model recently used by several offices of the attorney general,
in concert with the FTC and one Canadian province, in taking action
against fraudulent lottery companies.
If not, letters of warning would be sent to the list brokers,
including a roster of fraudulent companies and business practices.
This would serve to put each broker on formal notice of facts sufficient
to allow a civil case to be brought on a "knew or consciously
avoided knowing" theory under the Rule in the event that the
broker continued to provide consumer names to any of the listed
companies or types of business. List brokers would thus run the
risk of substantial civil liability if they were to continue unabated
their past support for fraudulent Canadian telemarketers.
They also plan to implement a taping system similar to that employed
successfully by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Under
that system subsequent telemarketing calls intended for past victims
(so-called "reloads") can be routed to the Attorney General’s
Office and taped. Specified staff in the Attorney General’s
Office would take the calls for victims of his or her own gender.
This method would generate additional, more easily provable, criminal
cases for prosecution.
The undercover "mooch line" operation, being run in
cooperation with the FBI’s San Diego Boiler Room Task Force
will continue to run in the office. This provides investigative
leads for both Vermont and other jurisdictions.
Many Canadian telemarketers come to Vermont to use mail drops,
to open bank accounts, and to open fulfillment houses because we
are very close to Montreal, Quebec and it is relatively easy for
them to cross the border to establish a presence in the United
States. Fulfillment houses typically send out premiums, or conduct
billing services for the telemarketers.
Approximately 95% of Vermont's open investigations involve Canadian
There have been a number of impediments to the success of trying
to establish closer working ties with Project Colt, the telemarketing
fraud task force in Montreal, and with Project Emptor, the telemarketing
fraud task force in Vancouver, including lack of funds for travel
to Canada, and a variety of cultural and other cross-border differences
in the working styles of the Canadians and this office. Offices
of Attorney’s General around the United States are the remaining
crucial yet missing parties at these task forces.We continue to be greatly hampered in our ability to investigate
these cases by several factors, including our lack of an investigator
and the fact that all but four of these cases originate in Canada
where, despite our best attempts, it is very difficult to conduct
an investigation.We continue to investigate each case as fully as we can in the
United States, and to provide full cooperation to Canadian authorities,
with a request for the same, in the investigation of these cases.
To date, though, we’ve had no positive response on our investigative
requests to Canadian authorities.Locally, we continue to have a difficult time getting state and
local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to look at these
crimes.We’ve had a senior citizen, who lost a considerable sum
of money in an "Australian Lottery" telemarketing scam,
transfer her home telephone number to our undercover line where
an investigator will answer when telemarketing criminals continue
to call. These calls will be tape-recorded, and the tapes will
be sent to the National Tape Library. Both Iowa and Ohio
have had success with transferring phone lines, and we hope to
replicate their success.Our experience with recruiting and maintaining a volunteer force,
both of senior citizens and of professional advocates, was frustrating
and has not paid offAARP has three other videos on fraud topics, including charities
fraud, investment fraud and home repair fraud. Our recommendation
is to customize these videos with a state or county specific message
about where to call locally for more information, and to have copies
made for distribution to local community cable access television
For an investment of a few hours time and several hundred dollars,
we were able to send copies of all three videos to all of Vermont's
community access stations. The stations aired each video repeatedly
for months as fillers between regular shows, and as long public
service announcements. We received excellent response from all
of the channels, and most asked for more videos on related topics.
OREGON BANKER’S ASSOCIATION FRAUD PREVENTION KIT
Every bank in the United States was mailed a copy of this kit,
which includes several videos, cassettes, training materials, and
public education materials. The kit was developed by the Oregon
Banker’s Association and the Oregon Department of Human Services,
Senior and Disabled Services Division.
You may order more copies, at a cost of $50 each, from: Roger
Auerbach, c/o Aileen Kaye, Oregon Department of Human Resources,
Senior and Disabled Services Division, Abuse Prevention Unit, P.O.
Box 14750, Salem, OR 97309, telephone 503-378-2529.
National Association of Bunco Investigators
The Baltimore-based National Association of Bunco Investigators
(NABI) is an association of law enforcement agents who pursue confidence
swindlers which can be reached at (410) 752-8150, by fax at (410)
357-5191, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
False Web Registration Ban Targets Scam Artists
05/02 - Based on complaints from law enforcement that say they
cannot protect people because they don't know the identities of
the operators behind criminal Web sites, Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.)
and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) introduced a bill which outlaws
the intentional submission of false information to Internet domain
Coble and Berman are the chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively,
of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the
Internet and Intellectual Property.
Customer information maintained by Internet registrars in their "WHOIS" databases
is often useless because scammers submit false names and contact
numbers when registering Internet addresses.
The legislation would criminalize the submission of false information
when registering Web addresses but is designed to target online
criminals not ordinary, law-abiding Internet users who fail to
include all of their information on automated domain-name registration
Many ordinary domain name holders often have good reason to submit
incomplete or incorrect information to Internet registrars as they
simply want to avoid a deluge of unsolicited e-mail from e-mail
marketers which mine WHOIS databases.
The Coble-Berman bill allows for fines and jail sentences up to
five years for violators.
Hope Springs Eternal
06/17/03 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United
States and 29 other countries Tuesday announced an effort to
track down spammers, telemarketers and other scam artists who
operate across international borders.
The agreement would make it
easier for governments to investigate and apprehend fraudsters
who operate on a global basis, officials with the U.S.
Federal Trade Commission and several other countries
The Internet and plunging
long-distance telephone rates have made it easier
for scam artists to pitch miracle health cures,
get-rich-quick schemes and other fraudulent products
to a global audience.
Complaints about international
fraud nearly doubled to 30,798 last year, according
to FTC statistics, while Nigerian e-mail hucksters
fleeced U.S. residents out of at least $100
million last year, according to the Customs
Even spammers based
in the United States commonly route their messages
through overseas computers to cover their tracks,
The 30 mostly European
and North American member countries of the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development agreed
to work together to fight cross-border fraud,
beef up their own consumer-protection laws where
necessary, and make it easier for consumers to
"They can run but
they can't hide, because our members will ensure
there is no safe haven for fraudsters," said
FTC Commissioner Mozelle Thompson, who helped
draft the guidelines.
Thompson and other FTC
commissioners asked Congress last week to give
them more authority to live up to the agreement,
while other countries may need to change their
laws as well. The United Kingdom's Office of
Fair Trading, for example, currently does not
have the authority to recover damages from fraudsters.
Officials from the United
Kingdom, France, Canada and Australia appeared
in person and by videoconference to unveil the
principles, while Japan and Finland sent statements
The governments of Nigeria,
Brazil and other developing-world hotspots did
not sign on to the agreement as they are not
OECD members. Nevertheless, Thompson said he
thought the agreement would provide a model for
those governments to follow.
"I'm hoping this
will be the beginning of sort of a cascade effect," he