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Law Commentary - California Edition

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Federal Prosecutors Indict Five Canadians for Targeting California Elderly in Telemarketing Fraud

Five Canadians targeting elderly Southern Californians in a marketing scheme were indicted by federal prosecutors on Tuesday in California.

The investigation was conducted in a joint effort by the United States Secret Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

US Assistant United States Attorney Monica E. Tait of the Major Frauds Section is the prosecutor in the case.

The mass-marketing fraud involved alleged actors defrauding elderly American residents to pay off some non-existent debts for magazine subscriptions. Mass-marketing fraud encompasses any fraud that uses mass solicitation methods such as phone, email, internet, etc.

According to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, the federal grand jury on December 4 issued a ten-count indictment. All of the five indicted men, who now live in Quebec province, face conspiracy charges and nine counts of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges losses of more than $1 million. If convicted, the five Canadian men each face US prison terms for each count in the indictment for a minimum of twenty years.

The defendants charged in the mass-marketing indictment are:
Ahmad Eraif, 35, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec;
Mohamed Eraif, 37, of Pierrefonds, Quebec, who is Ahmad Eraif’s brother;
Jonathan Massouras, 30, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec;
William Gampel, 29, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec; and
Kevin Gampel, 26, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, who is William Gampel’s brother.

Prosecutors said the scam was ongoing for about two years, from 2013 - 2015. The alleged con men targeted elderly residents of Garden Grove, Ventura, Beverly Hills and Granada Hills, California.

The defendants would allegedly call their elderly victims and claim to work for fictional magazine subscription services. On the calls, the Canadians allegedly told their victims they owed money for magazine subscriptions, and that if they paid their debts they would no longer receive phone calls.

The Department of Justice said the victims were threatened by the perpetrators, who warned the victims if they did not send money to them, then they would suffer legal actions and also see their credit damaged.

The victims shared their personal and financial information with the fraudsters, who charged the victims’ financial accounts and also stored this information for what prosecutors consider probable future illegal use.

Currently, six offices are taking part in the Transitional Elder Fraud Strike Force (TEFSF). The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles explained the strike force “brings together the resources and expertise of federal law enforcement and non-governmental organizations to combat international fraud schemes that disproportionately affect American seniors.”

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