San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Scams

Ohio man convicted in Costa Rica telemarketing scam

Another U.S. man has been convicted in a sprawling Costa Rica-based telemarketing scam, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice Wednesday.

Paul Ronald Toth Jr., 40, of Wintersville, Ohio, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of international money laundering concealment for his role in a sweepstakes scam that targeted elderly U.S. residents. The scam was operated out of Costa Rican call centers.

A sentencing date has yet to be set before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina.

According to the indictment dated Oct. 22, 2014, Toth knowingly collected more than $300,000 in ill-gotten gains from victims and sent roughly $200,000 through Western Union wire transfers to Costa Rica between November 2009 and November 2010.The remainder was Toth’s profit. The indictment said that Toth worked with Christopher Lee Griffin, a defendant in a related telemarketing scam case.

The Tico Times previously reported that a hydra of similar call-center scams operated in Costa Rica between 2002 and 2013 claiming to represent the bogus company “Lloyds of London of Costa Rica.” The scam, which defrauded victims of roughly $20 million, was largely carried out by U.S., Canadian and other English-speaking expats living in Costa Rica.

The Griffin indictment did not mention Lloyds of London of Costa Rica but described a similar operation: a telemarketing scam where large cash prizes were offered to U.S. residents over 55 years old and could only be claimed after paying fake insurance fees. Callers also allegedly impersonated officials from the “Federal Trade Commission” as part of the swindle. Prosecutors in that case asked for more than $10 million in forfeiture to cover the damage from the scam that lasted from 2007 to 2014.

As of June, Prosecutors in the Western District of North Carolina had convicted 46 defendants from the United States related to the sweepstakes fraud.

Contact Zach Dyer at zdyer@ticotimes.net

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