Oct. 3 (UPI) — Several U.S. citizens have been charged for operating a Costa Rica-based telemarketing scam that tricked elderly people into sending money for prizes that never existed, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
Prosecutors say 34-year-old Roger Roger, originally from Hialeah, Fla., and currently residing in Costa Rica, supervised a telemarketing call center in the Central American country. The scam involved calling people to inform them that they won a sweepstakes prize worth hundreds of thousands of dollars but needed to pay customs fees or taxes in order to claim it.
If the victim sent money, Roger and his co-conspirators allegedly called back to get more money by telling the victim there had been a clerical error or that the prize increased by millions of dollars, which would require more money paid on the taxes and custom fees.
According to the indictment, the scam began around January 2014 and lasted until November 2017.
It’s unclear how much money was defrauded from victims, but the indictment lists several transactions in which victims sent in amounts ranging from $400 to $1,385.
“Scamming elderly people out of their life’s savings is deplorable,” U.S. Attorney Murray said in a statement. “Most older Americans live on a fixed income, so when scammers come along and steal these elderly victims’ limited financial resources, our mission is to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
Several of Roger’s co-conspirators were named in the indictment, including Paul Andy Stiep, 26, of Miami; Manuel Mauro Chavez, 27, also of Miami; David Michael Nigh, 49, of Oklahoma; Mark Raymond Oman, 33, of Long Beach, Wash.; Cole Anthony Parks, 33, of Pompano Beach, Fla.; and Nicholas Richer, 24, of Nashua, N.H.
The alleged telemarketing scammers each face one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and nine counts of international money laundering.