BEVERLY HILLS—On Tuesday, December 8, the United States Attorneys Office for the Central District of California announced that five Canadian men have been charged with conspiracy and nine counts of wire fraud for a telemarketing scam that targeted elderly victims in Southern California.
The federal charges allege that the defendants ran a million-dollar telemarketing scam that deceived victims into paying off non-existent debts from magazine subscriptions. Many of the victims were elderly residents from Los Angeles.
On Friday, December 4, a federal grand jury charged Ahmad Eraif, 35, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec; Mohamed Eraif, 37, of Pierrefonds, Quebec, who is Ahmad Eraif’s brother; William Gampel, 29, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec; Kevin Gampel, 26, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, who is William Gampel’s brother; and Jonathan Massouras, 30, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec.
From 2013 to September 2015, the defendants allegedly contacted victims throughout the United States and claimed to be calling from magazine companies such as “Global Readers,” “Magazine Readers,” and “American Reader Services.” The defendants claimed that the victims owed money for magazine subscriptions.
The indictment alleges that scammers in the scheme told the victims that if they paid off what was “owed” their non-existent debt would be satisfied and they would not be contacted again. The victims’ personal information was stored in order to charge the victims and make phone calls demanding payments.
“In reality, the victims did not owe the money demanded by the callers. Even when they paid, the defendants and others acting at their direction often called the victims again, sometimes repeatedly, demanding additional payments for other purported debts related to magazine subscriptions,” the United States Attorneys office said in an official statement.
It is further alleged that the defendants threatened to bring legal actions against the victims or threatened to damage their credit if the victims did not pay the demanded amounts.
The indictment alleges specific telephone calls between telemarketers in Canada and victims in Beverly Hills, Granada Hills, Ventura, and Garden Grove. Total losses in the case exceed $1 million. Each count in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
The case was investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the United States Secret Service.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles is one of six offices participating in the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force. The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force was established by Attorney General William P. Barr in 2019 in order to focus on investigating and prosecuting individuals associated with foreign-based fraud schemes that affect American seniors.
“Fraud against the elderly is on the rise. One of the most significant and pernicious causes for this increase is foreign-based fraud schemes. The new Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force will bring together the expertise and resources of our prosecutors, federal and international law enforcement partners, and other government agencies to better target, investigate, and prosecute criminals abroad who prey on our elderly at home. The Department of Justice is committed to ending the victimization of elders across the country,” said Attorney General Barr in an official statement back in 2019.