2 Arizona residents plead guilty in $300M telemarketing fraud scheme

Feb 27, 2021, 4:00 PM | Updated: 7:32 pm
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Two Arizonans have plead guilty for their roles in a $300 million telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted elderly and other vulnerable victims nationwide, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

James Anthony Sierra and Irma Beatrice Timmerman were part of a group of 11 defendants who entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Sierra, a manager of telemarketing call centers in Tempe, agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution to all identified victims as part of his plea.

Timmerman, an owner and operator of Arizona-based companies involved in the scheme, agreed to pay $1,853,293 in restitution as part of her plea.

In October, 60 people were indicted in the widespread magazine telemarketing scam that authorities say targeted more than 150,000 people.

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

The defendants participated in the scam through various roles, including telemarketers, call center managers, or magazine company owners, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The defendants are alleged to have used fraudulent sales scripts to coax consumers into making large or repeat payments to what they believed were magazine companies.

Victims, many of whom were elderly or otherwise vulnerable, were defrauded out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, according to a press release.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has set up a website with information for victims, including how to submit claims for restitution.

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2 Arizona residents plead guilty in $300M telemarketing fraud scheme