Three people pleaded guilty Monday for their roles in a nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that swindled some 183,000 victims out of more than $335 million, Minnesota U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald announced Monday.
Terry Lynn Christensen, 73, of Fort Myers, Fla., and Jessica Marie Prince, 40, of Thayer, Mo., each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Todd Allen Hughes, 47, of Holstein, Iowa, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The sprawling scheme allegedly involved 60 people from across the U.S. and Canada who bilked victims, many of them elderly, over two decades.
Christensen worked as a call center manager for several fraudulent magazines, training telemarketers to trick victims into signing up for pricey subscription packages, according to court documents. Between 2009 and 2020, the companies he worked for defrauded victims out of about $99 million. He agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution.
Prince was a call center manager for Readers Club of America. The Missouri company targeted elderly and vulnerable consumers using deceptive sales scripts and “deliberate lies and misrepresentations,” authorities said. The company collected $4 million from victims between 2014 and 2020. Prince agreed to pay back that sum in restitution.
Hughes worked from his Iowa home as a telemarketer for the Magazine Deal, using fraudulent sales scripts to defraud elderly victims out of hundreds or thousands of dollars. He falsely claimed consumers owed large debts for subscriptions and told them they could pay off the balance in a single payment. Hughes will pay $50,000 in restitution.