FTC Charges Telemarketers With Scamming Elderly People Out Of At Least $10 Million

In a day when the stock market is unpredictable and huge financial institutions sometimes appear to be built out of nothing but smoke and mirrors, it can be tempting to want to invest your nest egg in something more concrete, especially something like “precious metals,” a phrase that, to some, exudes wealth and security.

But the Federal Trade Commission has charged a telemarketing group with preying on elderly consumers by misleading them into buying precious metals on credit with the promise of low-risk financial rewards.

According to the FTC, the company allegedly scammed customers out of at least $10 million $10 million by not disclosing the true costs of the scheme.

Potential investors were not told that their investment was just a start and that they would have to pay more money later or lose their investments, which generally turned no profits anyway.

The FTC alleges:

[T]he defendants failed to clearly disclose the investments’ total cost, and often failed to disclose that about 80 percent of the purchase would be financed through a loan with interest. The defendants also allegedly misrepresented or failed to clearly disclose fees and commissions, such as a $200 account opening fee and that consumers would be charged as much as 39 percent of their investments in commissions. The defendants also failed to tell consumers they were likely to receive equity calls on their accounts. When a consumer’s equity decreased to a certain level, an equity call was issued, and the consumer had to invest more money or allow the investment to be liquidated at a loss. In some instances, consumers were not told their accounts were liquidated.

Most investors lost money both because the investments were failures and through accumulated fees and commissions.

The telemarketers have been charged with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. It has filed its complaint with a U.S. District Court in Florida and is calling for a halt to the allegedly deceptive practices and refunds for affected customers.

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  1. menty666 says:

    Now we just need a Seal team to track down those “Rachel/Stacey at cardholder services” sheisters.

    • scurvycapn says:

      Oh, how I hate that fictional woman! I’ve also gotten some calls from “Cardmember Services.” They have had the courtesy to give me multiple final courtesy calls. How courteous of them.

    • Alexk says:

      I find those calls quite entertaining. I press 1, then play with the saps trying to sell me something. It’s my hope that I’ve ruined their days, thus encouraging them to seek legitimate employment (and washing dishes for a living is more legitimate than selling scams via illegal phone calls).

    • T&J says:

      Apparently I am not the only one getting the courtesy final call. I even push the dgiit to stop future calls and then I get another one in a few days. I guess we will have to wait until Eric Holder is no longer protecting us with “Fast and Furious” so he can find out how so many millions of people still get calls when they are on the “No Call List”. Maybe Rachel does not call the Washington, DC area so the elites have no idea.

  2. axhandler1 says:

    As punishment, they will be fined $5 million.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    $10 million $10 millions? That’s… $10,000,000,000,000 million!!

  4. TheOnlyBob says:

    just need to throw them in a pit that has sharks with laser beams on their heads

  5. Dave B. says:

    I can’t even fathom how much $10 million $10 million is…

  6. Dr.Wang says:

    Attention everyone over the age of 70:

    You are not required to answer your phone. All telemarketers are liars and thieves. If you don’t recognize the number of the incoming caller don’t answer the phone. The more you answer the more they will call. The more you talk the more they will lie to you. Never talk to telemarketers. If you are lonely, adopt a cat.

    • eezy-peezy says:

      I don’t believe people get stupid as they get older. I think the stupid old people were probably once stupid young people. Stupid old people make the news more because there is usually someone overseeing their finances, like their kids. When you are 40 and get scammed you don’t tell anyone about it.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Come back when you are 70 and let me know how that philosophy works out for you.

        • eezy-peezy says:

          My spouse is 72 and I can’t imagine him being taken in by any kind of scam.

          • HogwartsProfessor says:

            My dad is 75 and he got the “we need to get your computer passwords and fix your computer!” scam call. He just laughed and told them he doesn’t have one. Bye bye!

            I kind of wish they’d call me. I would love to have some fun with them.

        • huadpe says:

          Well, my boss is 72 and perfectly able to tell the scam calls at our office from the legitimate ones.

          At an office, especially one where alot of the sales happen over the phone, we do have to answer every call that comes in.*

          *Almost, we have a machine that filters out calls from known-harassment sources and sends them to their own answering machine in the abyss.

          • HogwartsProfessor says:

            There’s a solution for screening every call that comes in. It’s called a receptionist. I can do this and many other things your automatic phone can’t do.

            Actually I am hating being a receptionist these days and these scam callers are one reason why.

  7. longfeltwant says:

    Wow, ten million dollars is a big fraud. I bet the FTC could levy a fine of up to one thousand dollars as punishment!

  8. Not Given says:

    I read that they only get a few thousand complaints every year about telemarketers, so I have made it my mission to complain every time I get a call from one.
    http://www.fcc.gov/complaints

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      They probably get so few complaints because the people who used to complain years ago when the DNC list came out never saw any results, and have given up. Like me.

    • icerabbit says:

      I report most of our SPAM calls to DNC & FCC as well.
      It is kind of the only thing you can do to fight back, hoping that enough of a volume of complaints will finally result in action.

      I’d love to claim the $1500 per scam call, but where do you start, when all you have is:
      - a fake caller ID #
      - a fictitious person named “Rachel”
      - a fictitious company named “Cardmember Services”?

      I’ve had probably 100 calls from them alone over the years.

      If we had a way to identify and get a claim against the telemarketers, that would add up to a nice vacation and/or donation to retirement fund.

  9. framitz says:

    I think we need to add about three zeros to that number. Most of these crimes go unreported.

  10. runswithscissors says:

    Now why would they fine the scammers when commenter logic dictates that this is entirely the elderly people’s fault for letting themselves get scammed? I mean, they should fine the elderly if anyone, right?

    /s

  11. oldwiz65 says:

    The scammers have already probably moved their profits to offshore. They just declare bankruptcy and then start over in another state under another name. They know full well they will never face jail or anything like that.

  12. rlmiller007 says:

    The perps will be responding from their luxury villa in a country that has no extradition.