California Resident Sentenced to 121 Months in Prison for Facilitating Telemarketing Conspiracy that Defrauded Thousands of Vulnerable U.S. Consumers
A California man has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for partnering with call centers in Peru that defrauded Spanish-speaking U.S. residents through lies and threats.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will vigorously pursue and prosecute fraudsters who prey on others through international telemarketing schemes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Consumer Protection Branch, working alongside the Postal Inspection Service and our U.S. Attorney’s Office partners, will bring to justice those who threaten and defraud consumers, including immigrants who may be vulnerable to schemes that involve false threats to their liberty and ability to remain in the United States.”
According to court documents, Angel Armando Adrianzen, 46, partnered with a series of Peruvian call centers that contacted U.S. consumers, many of whom were vulnerable recent immigrants, using internet-based telephone calls. Those callers claimed to be attorneys or government representatives, and falsely told victims that they had failed to pay for or receive delivery of products. The callers also falsely threatened victims with court proceedings, negative marks on their credit reports, imprisonment, or immigration consequences if they did not immediately pay for the purportedly delivered products and settlement fees. Many victims made payments based on these baseless threats. Adrianzen received the victims’ payments and shipped products to the victims for these call centers, knowing that the call centers used fraudulent and extortionate means to extract money from vulnerable victims. Adrianzen was also convicted of and sentenced for two counts of possession of child pornography, found on his laptop computer and cell phone when search warrants were executed upon those devices.
As part of his guilty plea, Adrianzen admitted that from April 2011 until at least September 2019, he was the owner and operator of AAD Learning Center (AAD). Adrianzen operated and oversaw AAD from California and worked in partnership with call centers in Peru to contact Spanish-speaking consumers in the United States, including in the Southern District of Florida. At AAD, Adrianzen participated in a fraudulent telemarketing scheme that offered various products to Spanish-speaking consumers in the United States to obtain payments from vulnerable victims.
“Today’s sentence serves not only as just punishment for this defendant, but also as notice to others who may prey on vulnerable victims,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida. “The Justice Department and its partners will aggressively investigate such criminal activity. We will find you and ensure you are held accountable for your crimes.”
“In this international telemarketing scheme, deceptive scare tactics were used to threaten thousands of vulnerable U.S. consumers into purchasing undelivered products by falsely purporting to use America’s legal system against them and coercing them out of millions of dollars,” stated Inspector in Charge Joseph Cronin of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division. “Today’s sentencing hopefully brings relief to U.S. residents and immigrants who were victimized by this transnational fraudulent scheme. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, along with the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, are committed to holding individuals who use the U.S. Mail to defraud consumers accountable.”
In pleading guilty, Adrianzen admitted that he assisted his co-conspirators in Peru in setting up and staffing call centers that contacted victims in the United States and, at times, provided the call centers with lists of consumers to contact and call scripts to use when doing so. The scripts incorporated various false statements, including directing callers to falsely claim to be attorneys with the U.S. Department of Education. In other scripts, the callers were directed to falsely claim to be associated with Spanish language television channels, radio stations, or toothpaste companies.
Adrianzen further admittd that his co-conspirators falsely claimed that they were lawyers, sometimes calling from a “legal department” of a company, or from a supposed “minor crimes court.” Adrianzen’s co-conspirators falsely threatened to have victims deported, arrested, and charged with crimes, and to have negative marks placed on their credit reports if they failed to pay the hundreds of dollars of demanded fees. Ultimately, Adrianzen processed over $3,500,000 in payments as part of the scheme.
Adrianzen was sentenced to serve 121 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr., to be followed by fifteen years’ supervised release. He was also ordered to make restitution payments to victims of his offenses. Adrianzen was arrested on Sept. 16, 2019, and has remained incarcerated. On Nov. 21, 2019, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Miami Division and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Phil Toomajian and Joshua Rothman of the Consumer Protection Branch prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertila Fernandez of the Southern District of Florida assisted with the prosecution of the child pornography charges.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch, visit its website at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.
Click to view the Spanish language version of this press release.