Scammer Who Targeted Elderly Sentenced in California

Inside Subprime: Sept 24, 2018

By Grace Austin

A Canadian man who targeted American seniors in a large-scale, highly profitable scam has been sentenced to more than 11 years in U.S. federal prison.

Vancouver native Mark Wilson, 57, is accused of duping at least 60,000 people through a telemarketing scheme. He was sentenced in California on Monday.

Prosecutors say Wilson was owner of telemarking companies that sold non-existent credit card protection service. The scam told targeted consumers that they were working with their credit card companies and they were susceptible to fraud.

Victims were charged about $300 for credit card fraud protection and were assured a 100 percent-back guarantee.

Officials say between 1998 and 2001, Wilson made about $18 million. The scam extended to people in 37 states.

Prosecutors say Wilson profited well from the scheme, with purchases of half-million dollar luxury boats and high-end cars taken out in the name of his phony companies. Authorities say he transferred $100,000 to an offshore bank account in the South Pacific.

He’s said to have fought extradition to the United States for more than 10 years.

Wilson was extradited from Canada in February 2017, and in March 2018, convicted of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud after a five-day trial.

Telemarketing scams are on the rise. In July, the IRS and Justice Department broke up an India-based phone scam that impersonated, among other things, payday loan debt collectors.

AARP notes senior victims lose billions each year from fraud. The organization recommends un-listing phone number so scammers can’t reach potential victims or replacing a landline telephone with a cellphone, in which scam calls are less frequent. And opt out of junk mail so fraudulent mail is more noticeable. Also be weary of scam emails; most of the time they are sent to a junk mailbox but some do pass through.

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