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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 30, 2020

Owner Of Minnesota And California Magazine Sales Companies Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Commit Mail Fraud

Defendant participated in a $300 Million Nationwide Telemarketing Fraud Scheme

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the guilty plea of BRIAN JAMES WILLIAMS, 51, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. WILLIAMS, who was indicted on October 27, 2020, entered his guilty plea today before Chief Judge John R. Tunheim in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was the first guilty plea following the October 27, 2020, indictment of 60 individuals for their involvement in fraudulent magazine sales.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, WILLIAMS owned and operated several companies involved in fraudulent magazine sales, including Readers Club Home Office, Pacific Renewal Service, and Tropical Readers in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Pacific Beach Readers Club in San Diego, California. WILLIAMS’ companies operated telemarketing call centers in both St. Paul and San Diego at which telemarketers used deceptive sales scripts designed to defraud victim-consumers—many of whom were elderly or otherwise vulnerable—by tricking them into signing up for expensive magazine subscription packages. WILLIAMS conspired with and participated in this scheme with many others, including with company owners, lead brokers, and telemarketers located across the country. In total, WILLIAMS and his companies defrauded thousands of victims out of more than $29 million.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, WILLIAMS agreed to pay $29,262,249 in restitution to victims of his fraud conspiracy. WILLIAMS faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

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 Joseph H. Thompson, Harry M. Jacobs, and Melinda A. Williams are prosecuting the case.

Defendant Information:

BRIAN JAMES WILLIAMS, 51

Long Lake, Minn.

Convicted:

  • Conspiracy to commit mail fraud, 1 count

 

 

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated October 30, 2020