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CANADIAN TELEMARKETER SENTENCED TO OVER NINE YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON IN BOND SCAM INVOLVING LOTTERIES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2010

LOS ANGELES – A Canadian man who ran a telemarketing outfit that pitched European prize bonds to primarily elderly Americans with promises that the victims’ money would be pooled and used to purchase lottery tickets has been sentenced to more than nine years in federal prison.

John Raymond Bezeredi, 49, of Vancouver, British Columbia, was sentenced late yesterday to 109 months in prison. The sentence was issued by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess, who said Bezeredi’s scheme was “cold, calculating, callous behavior that destroyed people’s lives.”

In addition to the prison term, Judge Feess ordered Bezeredi to pay $4.6 million in restitution.

At yesterday afternoon’s sentencing hearing, Judge Feess also commented that most of the 4,500 victims were elderly at the time of the offense, and that many of the victims had not lived long enough to see justice done in this case.

Bezeredi was first charged in this criminal case in 2004, and a grand jury indicted him in May 2006. Bezeredi was extradited from Canada to the United States in August 2009, and he has remained in custody since that time. Bezeredi pleaded guilty in September 2009 to one count of mail fraud, admitting that he targeted elderly victims. The mail fraud count to which Bezeredi pleaded guilty specifically related to one victim in Glendale, California.

According to a statement of facts read in court when he pleaded guilty, Bezeredi’s scheme, which started in approximately 2000 and ran until October 2005, was organized around several fraudulent, Vancouver-based bond companies with names that included Imperial Investments, Dominion Investments and Eurobond Fidelity Ltd. Telemarketers using aliases at the fraudulent bond companies solicited money from elderly Americans with false promises, such as that the victim had won a large sum of money, that the victim would be participating with a small group of others in a lottery drawing for large sums of money, or that the victim had a very good chance of winning money. The telemarketers told victims that their money would buy a “bond” and that their investments were guaranteed, meaning that they could obtain refunds of their initial investments after a short period of time.

But, as Bezeredi admitted when he pleaded guilty in 2009, the victims’ money was never used to provide any benefit to the victims and none of the victims ever received any substantial payment from the fraudulent bond companies. Some victims received small payments that were purported dividends or winnings, but most victims only received additional solicitations to send in more money.

The case against Bezeredi was investigated jointly by the RCMP Project Emptor Task Force in British Columbia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Trade Commission.

In April 2007, the FTC obtained a court order that directed Bezeredi to repay victims $4.76 million. In the case that named John Raymond Salvator Bezeredi as the defendant, the court order also bars Bezeredi from engaging in similar illegal conduct in the future and prohibits him from calling consumers whose numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry (see: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/04/bezeredi.shtm).

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Release No. 11-010

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