In the 1980s, households around Naples, Fort Lauderdale and Broward County began to experience the first major wave of what became known as telemarketing. Businesses used telemarketing as a means of advertising and making sales by calling households on the phone to spread the word about products and services. Eventually, telemarketing became a very common practice. Not long after, scammers began leveraging the power of telephone marketing to advance their schemes. In recent years, such cases are aggressively prosecuted, making it imperative for those in Broward County charged with telemarketing fraud to retain the services of a Naples or Fort Lauderdale telemarketing fraud defense attorney.
Telemarketing fraud is a white collar crime that often involves the following:
- identity theft and credit card fraud insurance;
- lottery scams;
- advance fee loans;
- guaranteed government grants.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Identity theft and credit card fraud insurance protection scams
Florida telemarketing scammers often leverage common fear as a tactic to convince people to hand over their hard-earned money or sensitive personal information. Credit card fraud and identity theft have risen to the forefront of consumers’ minds as fraudsters have become more sophisticated in the ways they extract data from victims. Therefore, it is no surprise that many telemarketing scams are based on the concept of selling fraudulent insurance to consumers who are simply looking to protect their fiances from high-tech means of theft. Scammers will often execute these schemes by calling a potential victim and misrepresenting him or herself as a representative from Visa, Mastercard, or another financial institution. Scammers may also make fraudulent promises to potential victims. Examples of false promises telephone fraudsters commonly use include:
- telling potential victims fraud has been detected on their account(s);
- telling potential victimss the FTC has directed the fraudsters to contact customers and collect their credit card numbers and expiration dates;
- telling potential victims they may opt out of the fraudulent insurance coverage at no charge;
- claiming credit card fraud insurance is a necessity and has a lifetime guarantee;
- telling potential victims that consumers are automatically liable for fraudulent charges that exceed $90 therefore they need the non-existent insurance.
If the phone call is successful, the target will provide his or her credit card to the person who is executing the scam. At that point, the fraudster can charge the victim for the fraudulent insurance or simply use the victim’s credit card information to make unauthorized purchases.
Telemarketing lottery scams
Florida lottery scams involve callers who fraudulently tell potential victims they have won a large sum of money in a foreign lottery. Usually, the caller will have sent a check amounting to a couple thousand dollars in the mail to potential victims prior to calling; sometimes, the caller may send the check after speaking to the person he or she is targeting. The target is then instructed to deposit the check to cover taxes and postage fees to receive a larger check for the lottery winnings. Once the target deposits the check and sends the money to the fraudster to cover the “fees,” the victim’s bank realizes the check was counterfeit. By then, it is too late to stop the transfer of the fees. In the end, the victim loses the amount of the “fees” the fraudster requested to cover expenses related to disbursing the lottery winnings, which never existed in the first place.
Advance fee loans
Advance fee loan scams prey on people who are financially distressed and are unable to qualify for a loan from most major banks. The person who needs the loan may be contacted by someone who is posing as a loan officer. The person who claims to be a loan officer informs the loan applicant that he or she will be approved upon paying a fee. After the victim pays the fee, he or she discovers the loan does not exist.
Guaranteed government grants
The guaranteed government grant scam begins when a caller contacts someone and informs the person that he or she is eligible to receive a guaranteed grant from the government. If the call recipient is receptive, the caller will then begin asking a series of questions to make the process seem legitimate. Within the exchange, the caller will also request the potential victim’s bank account information, presumably for the purpose of depositing the grant funds into the potential victim’s account. The deposit is never made, and the victim later realizes money has actually been deducted from his or her now compromised bank account.
Becoming involved in a telephone scam in Broward County
Telephone scams are often perpetrated by companies that appear to be completely legitimate businesses that even hire everyday people to work for them. When the federal government investigates the company, innocent people may be accused of a very serious crime. People who believe they or their employer may be under investigation for telephone fraud should contact a Fort Lauderdale telephone fraud attorney prior to speaking with law enforcement. Telemarketing fraud is a federal offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment along with paying fines. These charges are also combined with related offenses such as mail fraud as many telephone scams involve following up with victims by mailing checks. If convicted of a related offense, the accused may be required to serve an additional prison sentence and/or pay additional fines. Being accused of telemarketing fraud in Broward County or elsewhere in Florida can have a devastating impact on a person’s professional career and reputation. Conviction is likely to be even more costly. A Naples or Fort Lauderdale telemarketing fraud lawyer can protect the rights of the accused and help minimize some of the negative effects of being the subject of such a serious accusation.