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Nevada: Multimillion scam targeted elderly victims

An individual who ran multimillion-dollar prize promotion scams was sentenced this month to serve 87 months in prison by a federal judge in Nevada, the Department of Justice announced.

Glen Burke, 58, of Las Vegas, on March 12 was ordered to pay $2,785,508.36 in restitution, reflecting the consumer loss from one of Burke’s schemes, the department said.

Burke pleaded guilty in December 2017 to criminal contempt of court and conspiracy charges arising from his operation of two predatory schemes that defrauded thousands of victims, many of whom were elderly, out of more than $20 million, the Justice Department said.

Burke conducted those fraudulent campaigns in violation of a 1998 court order obtained by the Federal Trade Commission permanently banning him from telemarketing and making misrepresentations to consumers, the department said.

A co-defendant, Michael Rossi, 52, also of Las Vegas, also pleaded guilty in connection with one of Burke’s schemes.

Rossi is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.

Burke pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of court for violating a court order prohibiting him from making misrepresentations to consumers. The charge stemmed from Burke’s operation of a mass-mailing fraud scheme that misled consumers into believing that they had won large cash prizes, often millions of dollars, the Justice Department said.

Burke specifically mailed consumers solicitations that used fake names and, in many cases, looked like they came from law firms or financial institutions, advising consumers to pay a fee – usually $20 to $30 – to claim their promised winnings, the department said. Once consumers paid, however, Burke never sent any consumer a promised prize, the department added.

Burke, along with Rossi, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for running a fraudulent telemarketing operation.

Telemarketers working for Burke and Rossi falsely told victims that they had won one of five valuable prizes, typically a Chevy Camaro; a Boston Whaler boat; a diamond-and-sapphire bracelet; $3,000 cash; or a cruise that could be exchanged for $2,300. To claim the prize, consumers were told to pay hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of dollars.

Once they paid, victims received a nearly worthless piece of costume jewelry or nothing at all.

In January 2013, the FTC filed a civil contempt case against Burke for violating the 1998 court order. The district court found Burke in civil contempt and ordered him to pay contempt sanctions of over $20 million, reflecting consumer loss from both the telemarketing and mass-mailing schemes.

“This case exemplifies the department’s commitment to halt schemes that target seniors, which the attorney general announced in a historic elder fraud sweep a few weeks ago,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said in a statement.

“We are sending a clear message: Perpetrators of telemarketing fraud will be prosecuted and law enforcement will not stop until fraudulent mass-mailing practices are halted,” Readler said.

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