Federal Jury Finds Three Defendants Guilty in $300 Million Nationwide Telemarketing Fraud Scheme Targeting the Elderly
MINNEAPOLIS – A Georgia woman has pleaded guilty to her role in a $300 million nationwide telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea, from 2016 through February 2020, Rita Antoinette Albritton, 59, of Stockbridge, Georgia, knowingly conspired with others to devise a telemarketing scheme that victimized numerous individuals across the United States, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable. Albritton worked as a telemarketer for World Wide Publication Inc., a Georgia-based company involved in fraudulent magazine sales. The company, owned by co-defendant Ronald Coleman, used fraudulent sales scripts to defraud victim-consumers, many of whom were elderly or otherwise vulnerable, out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The fraudulent sales scripts were designed to induce consumers, through a series of lies and misrepresentations, into making large or repeat payments. When acting as a telemarketer, Albritton at times used the alias of “Cynthia Alvarez.”
According to the defendant’s guilty plea, among other misrepresentations she made as directed by the scripts, Albritton falsely claimed that the victim-consumers owed a large outstanding balance for existing magazine subscriptions and fraudulently offered to pay off that balance in exchange for a one-time payment of $199.99. In reality, the victim-consumers did not have any existing subscriptions with World Wide Publication, they did not owe the company any outstanding balance, and the company did not have the ability to cancel the victim-consumers’ ongoing magazine subscriptions. In the course of the scheme, Albritton, Coleman, and their co-conspirators defrauded thousands of victims of approximately $1,749,959.
Albritton pleaded guilty yesterday before Judge John R. Tunheim to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for January 23, 2024.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additional assistance was provided by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry M. Jacobs, Matthew S. Ebert, Garrett S. Fields, and Melinda A. Williams are prosecuting the case.