Federal Jury Finds Three Defendants Guilty in $300 Million Nationwide Telemarketing Fraud Scheme Targeting the Elderly
MINNEAPOLIS – A Blaine man has pleaded guilty to wire fraud after devising an employment opportunity scheme to defraud hundreds of jobseekers out of approximately $600,000, announced United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
According to court documents, Charles Edward Fields, 44, was the owner and operator of a series of companies through which he pitched employment opportunities to prospective workers throughout the United States. The employment opportunities that Fields purported to provide were through his businesses, some of which included HOMESoft Systems Incorporated, WaterTek Marketing Corporation, Water Innovations Group, Inc., W I G Holdings Corporation, Mile High H20 Corporation, and the NEW H20. Fields, claimed that, after job applicants paid him an upfront deposit of approximately $3,000 to $5,000, he would hire them as sales contractors to sell products nationwide to the public, primarily home security or water filtration systems. As part of the scheme, Fields also misrepresented his affiliation with, and his authority to act on behalf of, Company A, a long-standing international company that designs and distributes various models of water machines and filtration systems.
According to court documents, Fields routinely posted nationwide online employment advertisements promising job seekers training, sales leads, and $6,000 in guaranteed monthly profit. Despite paying Fields the required upfront deposit, many of his victims never received the product or the training that they paid for as a condition of their employment. In reality, the employment opportunities never materialized as promised by Fields. In addition, Fields misrepresented to job applicants that their deposits would be securely held in escrow and subsequently refunded to them upon request. However, rather than provide victims with the promised equipment or employment opportunities, Fields instead used much of the victims’ funds for his own personal use and benefit or to refund some victims using other victims’ money. In order to conceal his fraud and stave off scrutiny, Fields lulled his victims with bogus excuses as to why he was unable to fulfill his promises or return their funds. In total, Fields defrauded at least 250 victims of at least $600,000.
Fields pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court before Senior Judge David S. Doty. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew S. Ebert is prosecuting the case.