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A Major Takedown of Telemarketing Scams ... and What It Means to You


Cracking Down on Telemarketing Fraud GraphicWe strongly urge you today: take a close read of our tips to avoid telemarketing fraud. And, if you're elderly, review our special web page on Protecting Senior Citizens.

Why? We already know telemarketing fraud needlessly victimizes millions of Americans every year--especially the elderly and other vulnerable citizens. All told, it's a bustling $40 billion-a-year enterprise, raking in more money than all but 33 U.S. corporations last year. Even in the age of the Internet, the good-old fashioned telephone is still the favored way to commit mass marketing crimes.

And Monday's announcement on Operation Roaming Charge, a massive, multi-agency, and multinational crackdown on telemarketing fraud since January 1, is further proof of just how widespread and sophisticated these crimes are becoming.

The cumulative numbers from this initiative are staggering:
... total consumer losses of over $1 billion;
... more than 5 million victims;
... 65 investigations launched by the FBI alone, involving nearly half of our field offices and several of our offices overseas;
... and over 135 arrests, a quarter of which took place beyond our borders, in countries like Spain, the Philippines, Canada, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom.

The schemes ran the gamut: fake charges on telephone bills ... deceptive credit card offers ... bogus sweepstakes. In one case, criminals even pretended to be law enforcement representatives who would help victims of telemarketing fraud recover their losses if they would just pay certain "fees."

As Chief Superintendent Peter German of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Financial Crime Division said on Monday, "Fraudulent telemarketers ruin lives." Don't let them ruin yours. Get educated on the dangers and warning signs. Just say "no" to these outrageous scams.

And if you think you may have been a victim or a target of telemarketing fraud, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission by calling its toll-free number, 1-877-FTC-HELP, or by visiting its web site. In Canada, contact Phonebusters, the national call center, at 1-888-495-8501 or at www.phonebusters.com.

Links: DOJ Press Release | Remarks by FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker | White Collar Crime page