FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The manager of a telemarketing call center in Pompano Beach pleaded guilty in connection to a nationwide $300 million fraud scheme that targeted more than 150,000 elderly victims and spanned more than 20 years, according to the Department of Justice.
Jannice Kristina Laur, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, appeared in U.S. District Court on Friday where, as part of her guilty plea, she agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution to victims.
Laur was one of 60 defendants who were named in indictments, which alleged that over the past 20 years they participated in the fraud scheme that is now known as the “magazine case.”
At least 150,000 victims have been identified, with their losses totaling nearly $335 million. The defendants come from 14 states and two Canadian provinces.
According to authorities, defendants would call mostly elderly people who had one or more existing magazine subscriptions offering to reduce the cost of an existing subscription.
The fraudsters were not calling from legitimate magazine companies, but were tricking the victims into signing up for new subscriptions. The telemarketer was signing the consumers up for an expensive and fraudulent subscription. The magazines would never arrive.
Many of the victims were billed by several, sometimes even dozens, of the magazine companies every month. Some victims were bilked out of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Other so-called “mega victims” were scammed out of $50,000 or more.
The defendants would then call to offer to cancel the magazines and say they would pay off money the subscribers “owed” in exchanged for a large payment, often of $199 or $507.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has set up a website for anyone who believes they were part of the fraud scheme and how they can submit claims for restitution.