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March 24, 2016

Downingtown man pleads guilty in $13M phone scam that targeted seniors

A Downingtown man pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to charges that he was part of a telemarketing scam that netted more than $13 million from senior citizens throughout the country. 

According to the United States Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, Marc Roy Ferry, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering for his role in a scheme that "bilked tens of thousands of senior citizens out of more than $13 million."

According to court documents, beginning sometime in 2009 through March 2014, Ferry and Ari Tietolman, a Canadian resident who has been charged elsewhere, used a network of telemarketers in Canada and India to target American senior citizens with deceptive telemarketing calls. 

In information released Thursday, the attorney's office said that through the scheme, telemarketers sold "old, worthless or non-existent services" to senior citizens and then charged the victims’ bank accounts without their consent. 

Court documents note that the scammers operated fake companies under the names: Fraud Watch, Patient Assistance Plus, Legal Eye and Trust One. 

According to law enforcement officials, the worthless or non-existent services sold by the telemarketers included fraud protection and discounted legal services, as well as a discount prescription card. The telemarketers lied about the costs of the services they sold, claiming it was free or would cost less than the amount that would eventually be billed to the victim's bank account.

The scammers also claimed they were associated with legitimate businesses, like the victim’s bank, insurance company or the United States government, said the attorney's office.  

According to law enforcement officials, Ferry admitted that Tietolman paid him and others to form corporations with the sole purpose of processing the funds generated by the telemarketing scheme. 

Ferry faces a maximum possible sentence of 70 years in prison and, the attorney's office said he could be required to pay restitution to the victims as well as other fines. 

Ferry's sentencing hearing has been set for June 22.