3 found guilty in $300 million telemarketing scheme targeting elderly

Three people have been found guilty for their roles in a $300 million telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted the elderly.

Following a trial in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, a jury found that Amondo Antoine Miller, 47, of Littleton, Colorado, Tashena Laverna Crump, 39, of Minneapolis, and Ballam Hazeakiah Dudley, 37, of Plymouth, knowingly conspired to carry out the telemarketing scheme that victimized numerous vulnerable people.

According to a press release, evidence presented at trial showed the three successfully ran the scheme by calling victim-consumers who had one or more existing magazine subscriptions, offering to "renew" the existing magazine subscriptions at a reduced cost.

However, victims were then tricked into signing up for entirely new magazine subscriptions, which they did not want and often could not afford – with some being fraudulently billed by as many as ten companies at a time for more than $1,000 in monthly magazine charges.

"This was one of the largest elder fraud schemes in our nation, with over 150,000 elderly victims across the country," said United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger in a statement. "We are pleased with the verdict. Combating elder fraud and abuse is one of the Justice Department’s top priorities, and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to combat systemic fraud of our most vulnerable citizens."

Miller, Crump, and Dudley were all found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud during a month-long trial in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Their sentencing hearings will be scheduled at a later date, according to the release.

The case was the first to be charged under the Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams Act of 1994 in Minnesota, which creates enhanced penalties for persons convicted of mail or wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. 

The scheme that began more than 20 years ago involved at least 40 other people.