In March, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Miami County Prosecutor Gary Nasal announced the guilty plea of the ringleader of a telemarketing fraud scheme that stole millions of dollars from thousands of victims across the country.
The plea was a major victory for the Consumer Protection Section’s Economic Crimes Unit, which works with local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute consumer fraud of a criminal nature.
Victims in the case, many of them elderly, owned inexpensive, vacant land throughout the United States. Members of the telemarketing ring targeted the elderly victims, claiming they could sell their land. They told victims their land was worth up to 15 times its assessed value and that they had eager buyers who wanted to purchase the land.
Property owners were told to pay fees as high as $16,000 to guarantee the sale of the land for the inflated value. Other victims were told that a solar energy plant had agreed to purchase their land for the overstated price, but in order to finalize the sale, they had to pay closing costs. Ultimately, there were never any buyers, closings, or sales. In all, the enterprise defrauded people in 41 states out of more than $2.8 million.
Based in Miami County, the criminal ring began operating in 2007. It involved 18 individuals, and of those, 15 have been convicted so far.
The Economic Crimes Unit discovered the scheme and led the investigation with extensive cooperation from law enforcement agencies in Ohio and Florida, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
To learn more or to report potential fraud, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov