A Canadian man who bilked elderly Americans out of millions of dollars by operating a telemarketing scheme recently received his day in court. In September, 57-year-old Mark Eldon Wilson was sentenced to over 11 years in federal prison for his role in orchestrating an $18 million scam that defrauded at least 60,000 victims across nearly 40 states, and which often preyed on the elderly.
Wilson’s sentence stems from his role in conning victims and seniors into paying for credit card fraud protection that did not actually exist. From 1998 to 2001, Wilson was the head of a telemarketing scheme that operated under various sham business names, including OPCO International, Inc. and American Fraud Watch Services.
Victims contacted by telemarketers were told false information designed to create a false sense of urgency and get their money, including:
The truth, as exposed in charging documents, was that Wilson and his companies were never associated with any legitimate credit card company. The protection services he promised were also a lie. Additionally, credit card providers do not hold victims financially responsible for fraudulent charges.
Wilson ultimately used the ill-gotten proceeds of his scheme to fund a lavish lifestyle, including luxury cars and boats and frequent vacations to Las Vegas. He also attempted to conceal the profits in an offshore bank account.
Telemarketing schemes like the one perpetrated by Wilson are unfortunately not uncommon. While their premise is simple in theory, they take organized work, willful deceit, and emotional manipulation. Victims of these schemes, including seniors, can suffer not only economic losses of significant value, but also emotional injuries and a loss of their ability to trust in others.
If you or a loved one are wary of any potential telemarketing scheme, remember not be persuaded or pressured into buying anything over the phone immediately. You should also look into the validity of businesses and any names, numbers, and addresses you can obtain, as well as any consumer complaints or reports with agencies like the Better Business Bureau.
At Meyer Wilson, we know seniors are a common target for fraud, including telemarketing fraud and investment fraud, and that they can suffer tremendous losses that decimate their retirement, life savings, and financial stability. In our experience, even knowledgeable consumers can be misled into seemingly sensible purchases or investments that later turn about to be scams.
If you or someone you love has been victimized by any of Mark Eldon Wilson’s businesses – including American Fraud Watch Services or OPCO International, Inc. – or have questions regarding your rights and options following any type of financial loss suffered as the result of consumer and investment fraud, our experienced investment fraud attorneys at Meyer Wilson are available to review your case and discuss how we can help. Contact us to request a free consultation.