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2 Arizonans among 60 people charged in $300M telemarketing scam

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — Sixty people have been charged in a widespread magazine telemarketing scam that authorities say netted $300 million from more than 150,000 elderly and vulnerable people nationwide, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald called the scam the largest elder fraud scheme in the country.

MacDonald said the 60 defendants face a host of charges, including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and violating the Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams Act of 1994. The defendants are from 14 states and two Canadian provinces, including two defendants from Arizona.

Cody and Irma Timmerman of Maricopa were two of nine defendants charged in the United States v. Timmerman indictment for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and violating the SCAMS act.

The nine defendants allegedly used a cancellation script to lure 20,000 victims out of approximately $30 million.

The United States v. Timmerman case was one of five cases implicated in the indictment.

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where fraudsters are willing to take advantage of seniors, who are often trusting and polite. It’s my hope that this prosecution is a call for vigilance and caution,” MacDonald said in a statement.

The indictments allege that many of the defendants used a fraudulent “renewal” script in which the telemarketers falsely claimed to be calling from the victim’s existing magazine subscription company with a phony offer to reduce monthly subscription costs.

In reality, the callers had no existing relationship with victims and signed them up for expensive, new magazine subscriptions. As a result, consumers ended up having multiple subscriptions with fraudulent magazine companies.

Some of the defendants are also accused of using a “cancellation” script that targeted people who had been previous victims. According to the indictments, these defendants took advantage of victims’ desperation to make the subscriptions stop and offered to consolidate and cancel existing subscriptions and pay off an alleged “outstanding balance” in exchange for a large lump sum payment. In reality, victims owed no money.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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