Bay Area Business Council and American Leisure Card telemarketing scam
On October 29, 2007, Peter J. Porcelli, II, was sentenced to a term of 13 years imprisonment, followed by 5 years supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $11,886,317.19.
On March 21, 2007, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Illinois returned a 19 count indictment against Peter J. Porcelli, II, then age 55, of Oldsmar, Florida. The charges arose out of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with substantial assistance from the Federal Trade Commission in Chicago.
The indictment alleged that the scheme operated out of Florida and Utah and utilized U.S. outbound call centers in Utah, Kansas, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Virginia, Florida, Caribbean outbound call centers in Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincents; an outbound call center in Toronto, Canada, and outbound call centers in India. The scheme was so pervasive, the indictment alleges, that there were victims in 34 of the 38 counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
The indictment alleged that the defendant, and his co-conspirators, obtained lead lists of consumers who had applied for and had been turned down for credit cards. Utilizing these lists, a cold call was made to consumers by telemarketers. According to the indictment, the telemarketer would begin the conversation by telling the consumer that “our records indicate that within the past 12 months, you filed an application for a credit card and you are now eligible to receive your MasterCard.,”implying that the caller was calling from the consumer’s financial institution. The telemarketer would then ask the consumer questions about her monthly income “to verify that my records are still correct.” After the consumer provided the information, she would be put on hold “for computer authorization” after which the consumer would be told that she was to receive a “MasterCard.” The consumer was further told that the card would improve her credit rating, specifically through Equifax. After paying what was characterized as a “one time” processing fee of anywhere from $159 to several hundred dollars, the consumers generally received a “benefits package.” Rather than containing a credit card as promised, the package contained an application for a stored value MasterCard, a form of debit card that had no credit line and which had to be “loaded” with funds before it could be used. That application, the indictment alleges, had to be submitted with an additional fee of $15.00 to receive a debit card which had no money loaded on the card. The indictment alleges that as many as 100,000 or more angry customers called the offices of Bay Area Business Council to complain. In addition, Bay Area Business Council received correspondence from various State Attorneys General and the Better Business Council on behalf of consumers who had complained to them. The indictment alleged that the defendant’s correspondence with State Attorneys General and the Better Business Council contained misrepresentations and furthered the scheme.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.
To any victim who plans on attending any Court proceeding:
Victims have the right to attend public Court proceedings, subject to some limitations as determined by the Court. For many reasons Court proceedings may be cancelled or rescheduled on short notice. If you are planning to attend a scheduled hearing, please check this web site for any updates before coming to Court.
The following are some of the public filings with the Court, in Adobe Acrobat format.
FTC Civil Action
The Federal Trade Commission also filed a civil action against the defendant. Copies of the FTC’s press releases in connection with this litigation, with links to their Court filings, are as follows:
August 13, 2002 Civil Complaint http://www.ftc.gov/os/2002/09/bayareabccmp.pdf
April 14, 2003 Permanent Injunction
Title 18, United States Code, Section 3771(a) provides:
A crime victim has the following rights:
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public Court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public Court proceeding, unless the Court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district Court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
Since there are a very large number of victims in this prosecution, this case has been designated a “Multiple Crime Victim” case by Court Order under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §3771(d)(2). Accordingly, the principal means of communicating and consulting with the investigators and government lawyers in this case will be through the completion of the “Contact Us” form below.
If you are a victim, and wish to contact us, please send an email to us at USAILS-VW_ILS@usdoj.gov. Please provide your full name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address. Given the large number of victims in this matter, and our need to efficiently manage our multiple victim prosecutions, we ask that you communicate with us by email. If necessary, we can have someone respond to you by telephone.
United States Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois
9 Executive Drive
Fairview Heights, Il 62208