Lotteries 2006

Schemes, Scams, Frauds.

Home Up Site Directory

Canadian Sweepstake 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 indictment states.

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.

The Gazette

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 Lottery Fraud

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 Jr.

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 restitution.

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 Inc.

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

[Home] [Up]

Order a book

Crimes of Persuasionon

Home Page / Model Scams Index / © 2000-2017 /Disclaimer / Privacy Statement