Lottery Winnings Program Scams - Foreign Internet Email, Telephone
and International Advance Fee Mail Fraud Lotto Ticket Sales
Scam Victims - 2006
Montreal scam artist fraudsters bilked seniors of millions -
ringleader wanted by U.S.
01/08 - Several Montrealers, including a 43-year-old Hampstead
resident alleged to be the ringleader, face charges in the U.S.
alleging they were part of a fraudulent telemarketing outfit that
targeted vulnerable seniors.
An indictment filed recently in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles
provides details of an eight-month investigation that ended Dec.
19, 2006, when 200 police officers, led by the RCMP, rounded up
39 people and shut down two boiler rooms in Montreal.
Twenty-two people, almost all from Montreal, face 25 counts of
wire and mail fraud in Los Angeles. They also face a specific charge
alleging they committed telemarketing fraud against the elderly.
In the U.S., telemarketers who cheat the elderly can have 10 years
added to any other prison sentence they receive.
The U.S. Justice Department intends to file extradition requests
soon, an RCMP spokesperson said yesterday.
Among those arrested in Montreal more than a year ago was John
(Pizza Man) Bellini, 43, of Hampstead. The 28-page indictment portrays
him as the leader of a group of telemarketers alleged to have bilked
elderly people in the U.S. and Canada out of millions.
The indictment describes how Bellini once laughed and called one
telemarketer "a funny f--k" after the telemarketer joked
that one of the elderly victims "has the worst case of Alzheimer's
I've ever seen in my life." As part of the scam, telemarketers
identifying themselves as lawyers or lottery officials would tell
their victims they had won a lottery but had to send money to cover
administrative fees if they wanted to collect their winnings. Victims
sent money ranging in amounts from $1,500 and $60,000.
According to the RCMP, the telemarketers went after 500 people
per week and bilked victims out of $5 million to $10 million annually
between 2003 and 2006.
Bellini faces four weapons charges in Montreal after police seized
a prohibited firearm during the Dec. 19, 2006, raid. The arrests
were made as part of Operation Civil, an investigation by Project
Colt, a joint task force based in Montreal that includes several
Canadian and United States law-enforcement agencies.
In 2001, Bellini was sentenced to a 30-month prison term after
he pleaded guilty in Montreal to drug trafficking.
The U.S. indictment alleges "Bellini served as the organizer
and leader of the telemarketing operation." He is alleged
to have obtained leads, or lists of names and phone numbers of
potential victims, from Rayme Freedman, 26, a Pierrefonds resident
also charged in Los Angeles.
"Working from the leads, at the direction of Bellini, the
defendant telemarketers would contact victims and falsely inform
them they had won a large sum of money in a sweepstakes or lottery," the
Bellini is also alleged to have supplied cellular phones used
to contact victims, provided the facilities from where the calls
were made, and trained rookie telemarketers on how to pitch scams.
Victims paid the "administrative fees" through money
counters like Western Union and MoneyGram. Five of the people charged
in Los Angeles are alleged to have run such counters in Montreal
and were in on the scam.
Western Union and MoneyGram closed the outlets when Operation
Civil was carried out.
Phone scammer needs good defense attorney.
09/07 - CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A man from Montreal, Canada, has
pleaded guilty in New Hampshire to conspiracy to commit wire fraud
stemming from a telemarketing scheme originating in Canada and
targeted toward U.S. citizens.
Corey Richard Fleischer faces a maximum sentence of 15 years.
The prosecution started in 2002, when a grand jury in New Hampshire
indicted 15 Canadian citizens in connection with a nationwide telemarketing
fraud targeted at the elderly. Seven defendants are serving sentences
in federal prison, three are awaiting trial and two are fugitives.
One case was dismissed and one defendant wasn't prosecuted because
Canada would not extradite him.
Scam Artist Goes to Jail for Bilking Elderly in Telemarketing
09/06 - TAMPA - More than a dozen elderly victims will receive
part of $200,000 in restitution from a man who pleaded guilty Monday
to managing a telemarketing lottery scam.
Vasilios "Billy" Kolitsidas, 38, was sentenced to just
over 51/2years in prison by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody
The judge gave Kolitsidas credit for time served in a Canadian
prison while he awaited extradition to the United States on charges
of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering.
He must serve another 21 months to complete his sentence.
As part of a plea agreement, Kolitsidas turned over $200,000 in
His attorney gave prosecutors a check at the hearing.
He also must forfeit another $337,000.
Kolitsidas pleaded guilty to his role in a sweepstakes and lottery
scheme that scammed more than $1.6-million from victims across
Florida and in South Carolina.
An indictment charged him and Serges Jacques Descent, also known
as Jack Descent, with persuading 14 people to turn over thousands
of dollars in fees and taxes between October 1998 and September
1999 for winnings that never existed.
"I would like to take this time to apologize sincerely to
all the victims and their families that were involved, and for
all their unjustly suffering," Kolitsidas told the judge.
The telemarketing firm targeted older people who had previously
entered sweepstakes contest or been the victims of fraud.
The men said they were calling on behalf of the Canadian government,
pretending to disburse winnings, prosecutors said.
The catch: taxes and fees had to be paid first.
The men would have the victims send checks to an address in Montreal
and a St. Petersburg address to a company called Group Crown International
In one scam detailed in court papers, 79-year-old Ada Korf was
told she won more than $1-million.
She sent four checks totaling $429,000 to the St. Petersburg address
and was told if her bank asked about the money, to say she was
investing in Florida real estate.
Descent, who Kolitsidas said approached him about "investing," is
serving 10 years in prison.
St. Petersburg Times