Florida telemarketers get prison for fraud

prison-400Daniel Carrasco, age 54, was sentenced to serve 121 months in federal prison, and Federico Martin Gioja, age 45, was sentenced to serve 108 months in federal prison, for their operation of telemarketing companies in Argentina whose representatives consistently lied to consumers about products they would receive and threatened consumers with consequences of failure to pay for their shipments.

Carrasco and Gioja were also ordered to forfeit a variety of assets, including approximately 20 pieces of real property, an automobile, motorcycles, a boat, a jet ski and firearms.

Carrasco’s and Gioja’s telemarketers promoted products such as vitamins, lotions and English-language training products. They also promised buyers would receive valuable gifts such as expensive watches and perfumes, gift cards and medical assistance and insurance. However, the companies frequently did not deliver products ordered by consumers. Since the companies did not have many of the products they promised to send to consumers, they sent other products instead. Then, after consumers refused delivery of the companies’ shipments, the Argentinian phone room telemarketers called and falsely threatened consumers with arrest, deportation or fines on their gas and electric bills.

As part of their guilty pleas, Carrasco and Gioja admitted they routinely changed the names of the companies under which they did business to evade consumer complaints, regulators and law enforcement. A variety of state agencies contacted the businesses regarding their illicit practices. Those working with Carrasco and Gioja referred to these companies tainted by complaints as “burnt.” Rather than changing the “burnt” companies’ practices, Carrasco and Gioja incorporated new companies and started the same illegal practices again.

Also in pleading guilty, Carrasco and Gioja admitted their telemarketers falsely represented to consumers that they were affiliated with Spanish-language television networks. This fraud first came to light when the Spanish language network Univision informed the USPIS they believed a company was involved in a fraud scheme in which it misrepresented its affiliation with the network. Subsequently, USPIS investigated the case, submitted the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrested the defendants.

“Sadly, these types of crimes create a distrust in people and leave victims feeling ashamed for falling for a scam,” said Inspector In Charge Ronald Verrochio for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service remains committed to pursuing crimes that are furthered via the U.S. mail and building trust with consumers. Postal Inspectors will investigate and bring the criminals to justice.”

Carrasco and Gioja were originally charged by criminal complaint and arrested on June 26, 2013. Both defendants were later indicted on July 25, 2013, and pleaded guilty on September 24, 2013. Carrasco and Gioja, and a third individual, Romino Tasso, also were named in a civil suit filed by the Justice Department. In the civil case, the Justice Department requested and obtained from the court a preliminary injunction barring further lies to consumers and freezing the assets of Carrasco, Gioja, Tasso and companies under their control.

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