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Press Release

Springfield Man Pleads Guilty to Advertising Scam

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

Springfield, Ill. – A Springfield, Ill., man, Andrew Miles Ross, waived indictment and pled guilty to defrauding more than 6,500 small businesses in more than 32 states in a telemarketing advertising scam.  Ross, 32, of the 3100 block of S. Woodward St., owned and operated a telemarketing company that sold advertising space on placemats or take-home menus purportedly to be used by popular Mexican restaurants.  As a result of the scheme, Ross sold more than $900,000 in false advertisements.

Ross appeared in federal court yesterday and entered a plea of guilty to five counts of wire fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Schanzle-Haskins. Ross is currently on bond awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled on Jan. 18, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough. 

The telemarketing company operated under various names including A. Ross and Associates and Coast-to-Coast Advertising, LLC, doing business as Nationwide Advertising and Nationwide Marketing.  Between 2005 and April 2011, as part of the scheme, advertising space was sold primarily to small businesses, such as auto repair shops, insurance agents and beauty salons located in the area of Mexican restaurants. The telemarketers falsely represented to small businesses that they were employed by or associated with a local Mexican restaurant that was selling the ad space on its placemats or take-home menus.  Further, the telemarketers falsely represented a one-time annual fee for purchasing advertisement, although Nationwide Marketing routinely debited the checking or credit card account of the small businesses without the businesses’ authorization or consent on multiple occasions during the year.

As part of the scheme, Ross, or someone else associated with Nationwide Marketing, contacted popular Mexican restaurants throughout the U.S. and attempted to persuade them to accept free placemats or take-home menus. Nationwide Marketing falsely represented that the items were a gift for being named in a survey as the top Mexican restaurant in the area. In some instances, although the restaurant advised that it did not want the items, Nationwide Marketing sent the placemats and take-home menus, which were of poor quality, regardless.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris.  The investigation was conducted by agents of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  The case was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

At sentencing, Ross faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three years to follow any term of imprisonment. The defendant may also be ordered to pay restitution.

Updated August 25, 2015

Financial Fraud