WASHINGTON, March 31 A scam in which
telemarketers targeted elderly victims' bank accounts - stealing
more than $20 million by impersonating government and bank
officials through fake companies - was shut down by a U.S.
court, the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.
The scam took advantage of tens of thousands of people, many
of them elderly, between May 2011 and December 2013, the FTC
said. Some of that money was returned to the victims, the FTC
The FTC accused Ari Tietolman, Marc Ferry and others of
setting up a boiler room in Canada to cold-call senior citizens
and others, saying they were from the government or from the
victim's bank and were selling fraud protection and
pharmaceutical benefit services or other services.
Once the seniors were convinced to give their bank account
information, the group would withdraw money without
authorization, the FTC said.
The FTC said consumers often learned of the defendants'
unauthorized debits only after noticing them on their bank
statements, the complaint said.
Ferry and two defendants agreed to court-issued preliminary
injunctions on March 27. Judge J. Curtis Joyner from the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania imposed
a preliminary injunction on a fourth that same day, ordering
Tietolman to shut down pending trial.
The FTC said that the defendants violated the FTC Act and
the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule.
"They targeted and called senior citizens and lied to them
to get their bank account information. Then they used this
information to withdraw money from their bank accounts," said
Jessica Rich, director of the commission's bureau of consumer
The shuttered companies had names such as First Consumers
LLC and PowerPlay Industries LLC. Those companies, and the
defendants, were not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bernard Orr)