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Lottery company used 'sucker lists' to target elderly

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Lottery company used 'sucker lists' to target elderly

The New York Attorney General's office has secured $110,000 in restitution and civil penalties from three Erie County individuals who targeted senior citizens through a telemarketing scam involving the sale of "winning" lottery numbers.

Michael J. Geiger and Michael D. Marranca, the owners of Multi-Plays of America, Inc. and the company's general manager, Noelle M. Alessandra, all consented to the court order that permanently bars them from telemarketing to consumers or for charitable purposes in New York State.

"Consumers lose an estimated $40 billion a year to telemarketing fraud," AG Eliot Spitzer said. "It is especially egregious when scam artists target vulnerable seniors."

Spitzer's investigation revealed that the defendants operated a fraudulent telemarketing business which offered for sale numbers which were purported to be "most likely" to win various lotteries throughout the country.

Using so-called "sucker lists" — lists of consumers who had been defrauded by telemarketers in the past — the defendants called elderly consumers with offers to sell "likely winning lottery numbers" when, in fact, the real purpose was to gain authorization to electronically debit the consumer's checking account.

The scam began when seniors received telemarketing calls falsely telling them they had been "selected to receive the most likely winning combinations of the Lottery." The caller claimed that the company's "scientific formula" provided the most likely winning lottery combinations.

The telemarketer would further entice consumers with an offer of a one-week $39.99 trial package containing the winning combination numbers along with a coupon book, which generally turned out to be of minimal value, consisting largely of offers to "buy-one-get-one free" and for pre-paid credit cards.

Once the telemarketers gained authorization to access the individual's checking account, it debited not only the initial $39.99, but also continued to charge a monthly fee of $149.99 which was electronically withdrawn from the consumer's checking account.

At least 40 consumers, or in the case of some elderly individuals, their caretakers or relatives, have filed complaints against Multi-Plays since 2002. Prior to this agreement Spitzer's office successfully mediated many of those complaints. In settling the matter, Geiger and Marranca agreed to pay $100,000 and Alessandra agreed to pay $10,000. With those monies, Spitzer's office will establish a restitution fund of $80,000 from which refunds may be made to any consumer who requests a refund from Multi-Plays. The remaining $30,000 will cover civil penalties and costs of the investigation.

Any consumer wishing to obtain a refund from Multi-Plays through this settlement should file a complaint with the Attorney General's office within 90 days. To obtain a complaint form, consumers should call the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or to visit the office's website at www.oag.state.ny.us.

North Country Gazette

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10 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by justxploring.
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North Brunswick NJ
United States
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May 8, 2006
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Posted: June 9, 2006, 6:42 pm - IP Logged

Senior citizens wake upBed

    emilyg's avatar - cat anm.gif

    United States
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    November 9, 2001
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    Posted: June 9, 2006, 7:40 pm - IP Logged

    shame on them - Bash

    love to nibble those micey feet.

     

                                 

      Bryan's avatar - Lottery-002.jpg
      Mid-Missouri
      United States
      Member #644
      August 31, 2002
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      Posted: June 9, 2006, 8:08 pm - IP Logged

      I'm confused. What happens to all the wisdom you are suppose to accumulate over your lifetime here on earth? Unless, you have Alzheimer's why do people fall for this crap? Is it the fact they are elderly or the fact these people didn't have any sense when they were younger either? To many times you hear this over and over. If it sounds to good to be true, IT IS!

      If you didn't call them DON'T do it! Get a number and call them back (after you check them out) if you are interested in something that a telemarketer has said.

        Uff Da!'s avatar - InCelebration 001.jpg
        Washington State
        United States
        Member #33973
        February 26, 2006
        347 Posts
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        Posted: June 10, 2006, 3:00 pm - IP Logged

        I'm confused. What happens to all the wisdom you are suppose to accumulate over your lifetime here on earth? Unless, you have Alzheimer's why do people fall for this crap? Is it the fact they are elderly or the fact these people didn't have any sense when they were younger either? To many times you hear this over and over. If it sounds to good to be true, IT IS!

        If you didn't call them DON'T do it! Get a number and call them back (after you check them out) if you are interested in something that a telemarketer has said.

        Intelligence is on a bell-shape curve, and there is always going to be that bottom end of the curve who have trouble making reasonable decisions no matter what their age.  Add to that the elderly who are in the earlier stages of Alzheimers, those who have had strokes or other problems which have affected brain function.  Then add to that the number of widows and widowers who are now in a position that they make their own financial decisions when their presumably more financially-acute spouse had made decisions before.  And don't forget to add to that the number of elderly who are on medications, sometimes multiple medications, which mess up brain functioning. 

        There are people of any age who are easily fooled by scams, but I can see how the problem becomes worse among the elderly.

          justxploring's avatar - villiarna
          Wandering Aimlessly
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          Member #25360
          November 5, 2005
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          Posted: June 10, 2006, 11:21 pm - IP Logged

          I agree with everyone who has posted so far.  Shame on these people for scamming innocent victims. Also, Bryan is correct in assuming that just because a person is older, he isn't necessarily naive or gullible. Uff Da also has a good point, because so many elderly have recently lost a spouse and are facing decisions they never made before. However, the article reads:

          Using so-called "sucker lists" — lists of consumers who had been defrauded by telemarketers in the past

          So these parasites who survive by sucking the life out of people already have a targeted market. I actually think it's insulting for people to assume that, just because someone is over 65 or 75 (depending on your idea of what senior means) that person isn't qualified to make intelligent decisions. Mike Wallace is 88 and Walter Cronkite is 89 years old!  My Dad is 92 and not well, so he's becoming forgetful, but he's sharp as a tack.  

            emilyg's avatar - cat anm.gif

            United States
            Member #14
            November 9, 2001
            31343 Posts
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            Posted: June 10, 2006, 11:39 pm - IP Logged

            I agree with everyone who has posted so far.  Shame on these people for scamming innocent victims. Also, Bryan is correct in assuming that just because a person is older, he isn't necessarily naive or gullible. Uff Da also has a good point, because so many elderly have recently lost a spouse and are facing decisions they never made before. However, the article reads:

            Using so-called "sucker lists" — lists of consumers who had been defrauded by telemarketers in the past

            So these parasites who survive by sucking the life out of people already have a targeted market. I actually think it's insulting for people to assume that, just because someone is over 65 or 75 (depending on your idea of what senior means) that person isn't qualified to make intelligent decisions. Mike Wallace is 88 and Walter Cronkite is 89 years old!  My Dad is 92 and not well, so he's becoming forgetful, but he's sharp as a tack.  

            my definition of senior citizen is always 20 years up from my current age    lol

            love to nibble those micey feet.

             

                                         

              csfb's avatar - Lottery-001.jpg

              United States
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              May 13, 2005
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              Posted: June 11, 2006, 1:58 am - IP Logged

              shame on them - Bash

              I second that emotion - shame, shame on them.Bash

                Uff Da!'s avatar - InCelebration 001.jpg
                Washington State
                United States
                Member #33973
                February 26, 2006
                347 Posts
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                Posted: June 11, 2006, 11:19 am - IP Logged

                I agree with everyone who has posted so far.  Shame on these people for scamming innocent victims. Also, Bryan is correct in assuming that just because a person is older, he isn't necessarily naive or gullible. Uff Da also has a good point, because so many elderly have recently lost a spouse and are facing decisions they never made before. However, the article reads:

                Using so-called "sucker lists" — lists of consumers who had been defrauded by telemarketers in the past

                So these parasites who survive by sucking the life out of people already have a targeted market. I actually think it's insulting for people to assume that, just because someone is over 65 or 75 (depending on your idea of what senior means) that person isn't qualified to make intelligent decisions. Mike Wallace is 88 and Walter Cronkite is 89 years old!  My Dad is 92 and not well, so he's becoming forgetful, but he's sharp as a tack.  

                Oh, I don't think it is a matter of people assuming that all seniors are going to be gullible.  (I hope not.  I turn 65 soon myself!)  But if the operators of a scam have an option of using a list of younger people, where they might only get 1% suckers or a list of seniors, where because of the problems they have, they might get 2% suckers, which makes the most sense from a marketing standpoint?  Then add to that, in this case, where they got a list of those who had been dumb enough to fall for a scam before, and the percent return on investment may greatly improve. 

                I'm just using these percentages as an example, of course.  I have no idea what the percent may actually be.  I just think for all the reasons I listed in my previous post that seniors are a target of scams because of a greater return on the marketing dollar.

                  Uff Da!'s avatar - InCelebration 001.jpg
                  Washington State
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                  February 26, 2006
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                  Posted: June 11, 2006, 11:26 am - IP Logged

                  emilyg said:

                  my definition of senior citizen is always 20 years up from my current age    lol

                  Oh, I can handle "senior citizen" to mean age 60 or 65 or even 55.  It is when someone says "elderly" that I believe that only applies to people 20 years older than my current age!

                    justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                    Wandering Aimlessly
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                    Member #25360
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                    Posted: June 11, 2006, 5:54 pm - IP Logged

                    Emily, I agree!!  However, I've got to admit that the week I turned 50 I quickly handed my driver's license to the salesperson at a local Beall's clothing store for my "Senior" Discount.  I'm now 55 and wouldn't mind living in an over 55 community. I'd rather be 20 years younger so I could go back and undo all of the mistakes I've made for the past 20 years, but I bet I'd just screw up all over again.  I guess one thing I can look forward to is that in 10 years I can go on Medicare, if it still exists.

                    My big question is - When did I suddenly become a "Ma'am?"