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3 Persons Facing Jail For Wire Fraud In $11-mln Telemarketing Scheme

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Three men who defrauded primarily elderly victims in the United States from call centers in Costa Rica through a $11 million telemarketing scheme
were sentenced to jail.

U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina sentenced Donald Dodt, 76, of Cleveland, Ohio, to 90 months, and ordered restitution of $7 million.

Thomas Sniffen, 58, of Peekskill, New York, was sentenced to 114 months' imprisonment, and ordered restitution of $11,236,857.65.

Michael Saxon, 50, of Ontario, Canada, was sentenced to 75 months in prison, and ordered to pay $2,593,574 in restitution.

Following a five-day trial in May last year, Dodt was found guilty on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and international money laundering.

In April 2019, Sniffen pleaded guilty to the above charges, while Saxon pleaded guilty in May.

According to court documents, the three convicts conspired together to commit the fraud and worked in a call center in Costa Rica, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

Falsely posing as federal judges, representatives of the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and other federal agencies, they contacted victims in the United States — primarily senior citizens — to tell them that that they had supposedly won a substantial "sweepstakes" prize.

After convincing victims that they stood to receive a significant financial reward, the trio told victims that they needed to make a series of up-front cash payments before collecting, purportedly for items like insurance fees, taxes and import fees.

The co-conspirators used a variety of means to conceal their identity, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services provided by Dodt that made it appear as if they were calling from Washington, D.C., and other U.S. locations.

The court determined that Dodt, Sniffen, Saxon and their co-conspirators collectively stole more than $11 million from victims.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-CI and the FBI with assistance from the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

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