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11 more people charged in massive magazine scam plead guilty

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Eleven more people who were charged in a $300 million nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme involving fake magazine subscriptions have pleaded guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota announced Friday.

Last fall, federal prosecutors in Minnesota charged more than 60 people, including 15 Minnesotans, in connection to the “largest elder fraud scheme in the nation,” saying their magazine scam netted $300 million from mostly elderly and vulnerable victims.

The 11 people who recently plead guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud includes two Minnesotans:

  • Jared Thomas Michelizzi, 37, of Ramsey, owned and operated fake magazine sales companies in Fridley, Minnesota, and San Diego, California. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 25 and agreed to pay $22,076.363 in restitution.
  • Carlos Kentrell Smith, 41, of St. Louis Park, was a telemarketer at a call center in St. Louis Park. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 5 and agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution.

The others who pleaded guilty are:

  • Jannice Kristina Laur, 39, of Florida, was the manager of a telemarketing call center and agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution.
  • Vasean Berioisova Ricks, 53, of Mississippi, was a telemarketer and agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution.
  • James Anthony Sierra, 55, of Arizona, was the manager of a call center and agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution.
  • Daniel Mathias, 62, of Mississippi, was the owner and operator of a company involved in fraudulent magazine sales and agreed to pay more than $2.7 million in restitution.
  • Lloyd Joseph Loftis, 60, of Florida, was the manager of a call center and agreed to pay $50,000 in restitution.
  • Irma Beatrice Timmerman, 47, of Arizona, was the owner and operator of companies involved in fraudulent magazine sales and agreed to pay more than $1.8 million in restitution.
  • Ronald Ollo Coleman, 59, of Georgia, was the owner and operator of companies involved in fraudulent magazine sales and agreed to pay more than $1.7 million in restitution.
  • John Michael Blalock, 53, of Florida, was the owner and manager of a fraudulent magazine sales company and agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution.
  • Sharon Denise Mcewen, 54, of Mississippi, was a telemarketer and agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution.

At least three other people have pleaded guilty in connection to the case.

Prosecutors say the scheme, which spanned 20 years, involved call center workers using fake scripts filled with lies and misrepresentations to trick people into making large or repeat payments, prosecutors have said, defrauding more than 100,000 people out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota has a website dedicated to this case here. On the website, people who believe they may be a victim of the scheme can find out how to get a portion of their money back.

Those who plead guilty or are convicted by a jury could face up to 30 years in prison, the website notes.

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